Monday, June 14, 2021

Babyface Remembers Natural Evolution of ‘Boomerang’ Soundtrack (EUR Exclusive!)

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babyface & toni braxton - give u my heart (boomerang)

*As one of the funniest romantic comedies to grace the silver screen, “Boomerang” is a certified classic.

And as the saying kind of goes, behind every great movie is a great soundtrack. Particularly when that soundtrack boasts triple platinum status with an all-star roster  and legendary music duo Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Antonio “L.A.” Reid at the helm.

While Edmonds and Reid, who presided over their label LaFace Records at the time, were firmly able to put the soundtrack together for a successful run, it was the guidance of “Boomerang” star Eddie Murphy, co-producer Warrington Hudlin and Hudlin’s brother and “Boomerang” director Reginald Hudlin that laid the foundation for the overall effort.

“Ultimately, Reggie and Warren and Eddie Murphy were making the calls with what ultimately they liked. So we were kind of working to please them,” Edmonds shared with EURweb.

Considering he and Reid never worked on a movie soundtrack before, Edmonds went on to mention how it felt “kind of surreal” to be on the “Boomerang” set to draw inspiration from scenes shot for the film as well as meeting Murphy’s co-stars.

“We got to watch it as it was being made. We were able to see scenes of it as well. So as we were writing music for it, the whole thing was new for us because we hadn’t written for a film at that point. This was our first soundtrack that we were doing and it was not just a soundtrack. Because as we’re actually able to see the film and try to write specifically for the particular scenes, obviously, it was huge because this was an Eddie Murphy film. Back in the day, this was the biggest star in the world,” the singer-songwriter-music producer stated”

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds
Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds

“To think that we were involved. I mean, I remember we got to go down to the set and we saw Robin Givens. We saw Halle Berry. We were seeing these movie stars that were there and it was kind of surreal. We had a really cool relationship with Reggie and Warren and always, we just kind of clicked from the moment that we met and started talking. And so to be a part of the whole process was pretty amazing.”

Edmonds and Reid’s pursuit of the “Boomerang” soundtrack came from noticing the success of the soundtrack to the 1991 film “New Jack City,” which enjoyed an eight-week stay at number one on the Billboard Top R&B Albums chart and included the hit single “I’m Dreaming” by Christopher Williams. Although Edmonds confessed, “we didn’t have complete knowledge about what we were doing because we hadn’t done it before,” the mission was set to bring music lovers a compilation that was on or above the same level of the “New Jack City” soundtrack.

“And that’s specifically why we went after it. Because we were like, ‘Wow. They had success with that, so we should try and do that.’ And we got lucky enough to be a part of this particular film, which ultimately became a classic because this was a film that hadn’t been done quite that way in a while, where it was an upscale black film in a comedy, romantic comedy, ” the music veteran noted. “We hadn’t seen that on a movie screen in a long time, where you had people that were successful and in business and black, the companies were black. And so it was important in that way and I think we might have felt like it was important as we were doing it, but we didn’t realize it was as important as it became.”

Released on July 1, 1992, “Boomerang” centered on Murphy’s character, Marcus Graham, a successful, womanizing ad executive who meets his match in his boss Jacqueline Broyer, played by Givens. In addition to Murphy, Givens and Berry, the film featured Martin Lawrence, David Alan Grier, Tisha Campbell-Martin, Grace Jones, John Witherspoon, Eartha Kitt and Chris Rock.

The day prior to “Boomerang” arriving in theaters, the “Boomerang” soundtrack made its mark with material to rival the talent onscreen. Hits featured included Johnny Gill’s “There You Go,” P.M. Dawn’s “I’d Die Without You,” “Give U My Heart” from Babyface and Toni Braxton, “Hot Sex” from A Tribe Called Quest,” “Braxton’s “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” and Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” which sat on top of the Billboard Hot 100 for a then-record 13 weeks.

“They were clearly the ones in mind. They kind of rode it in that whole Philly kind of thing,” Edmonds said about singling Boyz II Men out for “End of the Road” as he remembered the early life of the group’s signature hit, which boasts Reid and Daryl Simmons as co-writers.

“Actually, it was kind of written fast. I had most of the song kind of written. I remember I wrote it in this hot little house that I rented in Atlanta that was close to the office. I just rented this house just for working there. So I would kind of start and I would work on the music for a while. And Daryl came in when I had most of the song done. And then L.A. came in towards the end for us and I kind of played it for him and he added a couple of things and then at that point it was ready to go. It wasn’t really a lot of time. It was probably a day.”

Although “End of the Road” helped cement the “Boomerang” soundtrack’s top spot on the Billboard’s R&B Albums chart, the tune was never featured in the film. To hear Edmonds tell it, he tried composing “End of the Road” for a “particular part of “Boomerang,” but the moment eventually passed.

“We just went to write a song that would work with Boyz II Men. And it was a song, I think I was trying to write it for a particular part of the film, but it didn’t get placed to where we wanted it to get placed. Plus, it was already kind of set. We didn’t go in early enough and I’ve often said that to Reggie. I don’t even remember the scene at this particular point, but I do remember thinking as I was writing it, ‘This should be for this scene,’ but it didn’t go where I thought it was going to go.”

One scene that did fit with Edmonds and Reid’s strategy of intertwining their music with scenes from “Boomerang” was the scene where Berry’s character, Angela Lewis, confronts Marcus after he comes home from being out late. That clip and the infamous line from it put Braxton on the map as a vocal force to be reckoned with.

“There were particular songs that we wrote for the film, watching the dailies and going on and then watching the whole part of when Halle said to Eddie Murphy…I forget the character’s name at that particular point, but she was very emotional and then he said, ‘I love you,’ and she came with the famous line, and she said ‘Love? Love should have brought your ass home last night,’ Edmonds recalled.

“So it was like, ‘Ding!’ and so immediately I went back and I worked with the piano player, Bo Watson, who was from Midnight Star. We sat and wrote that actually in L.A.’s house on his piano. And that lyric stuck with me and then I said, ‘We should write that, ‘love shoulda brought you home last night.’”

Braxton may have ended up with the song, but there was another songstress Edmonds originally in mind to sing “Love Shoulda Brought You Home.”

“When we wrote that, actually, we wrote it for Anita Baker,” the music man revealed. “And we sent it to Anita Baker and she passed on it. Hence, we had already signed up Toni and Toni was waiting in the wings. Toni even demo’ed the song. At that particular point, it was like, ‘Alright, this is Toni’s calling’ and that obviously became a very important song for that whole album…. that’s what you called a meant-to-be moment.”

A reason behind Baker’s rejection of “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” is a mystery for Edmonds, but the situation proved fruitful with bringing Braxton to the forefront while she stepped out of her comfort zone.

“We had to push her and she didn’t want to sing high, but we kept on pushing her to go for those things,” said Edmonds. “When we heard Toni Braxton the first time, the first time I heard her at an audition with her sisters, the thing that I got excited about was I heard her voice and I heard this pain in her voice. And I get excited about pain because that means, ‘Ok, a great emotion.’ I know it sounds weird, but so knowing that we had that, then once we got her in, then it was just, it was wonderful to do because you had this girl that just had this incredible tone and she was finding her voice at the time, finding out how to sing.

“So we were working with her, trying to find it and shape it at that point. Certainly early days and then she just kind of just started finding herself and finding her own. It‘s when you look back at it now, it seems magical. Nothing ever seems magical so much when you’re doing it. It’s just the work is what you do. But when you look back on things in the time period, then you realize that we were actually in the process of making magic.”

“We thought it would have been a great coup on our part if we got her [Baker], but she didn’t do it and it turns out that it was the best thing that ever happened to us,” added Edmonds. “Because of that, Toni Braxton was born.”

And the rest, they say, is history. Braxton’s success with her “Boomerang” soundtrack singles perfectly segued into her solo career, which included more hit songs and albums, various awards, reuniting with Edmonds for a couple of duet albums and a sexy image to boot.

Braxton wasn’t the only LaFace artist on the “Boomerang” soundtrack. Aside from a few notable exceptions, the album was a virtual showcase for the label’s entire roster, which was prominently featured throughout the 12-track opus.

Among those exceptions was A Tribe Called Quest, one of two rap acts on the mostly R&B soundtrack. In Murphy’s eyes, according to Edmonds, the hip-hop vibe of Tribe and P.M. Dawn meshed well with what he wanted to present with the album.

“I think it was a question of Eddie Murphy’s favorite artists,” Edmonds voiced. “I think he really loved A Tribe Called Quest and then there was one of my favorite songs on that record as well from P.M. Dawn (“I’d Die for You”). So some of those songs came in as suggestions from them [Murphy and the Hudlins]. And obviously we were fine with it. We were just trying to get an album together. That’s how it happened.”

Fortunately for moviegoers and music fans, the “Boomerang” soundtrack was the ideal bookend to the film, proving that Edmonds and Reid’s knack for making quality music was not limited to individual artists and their respective albums. Yet there was always the question of how the compilation would register with the public.

“We never had any real idea about that kind of stuff, at least I didn’t. You put it out and cross your fingers that it was something special, you know, and you hope that it was gonna work. And with that, I think that we kept getting lucky,” Edmond said while expressing his reaction to people loving the “Boomerang” soundtrack.

“Obviously, that was great to see and to feel that happen because it was something that you never know whether it’s gonna work or not. And that was such a high profile movie, that you certainly crossed your fingers that it worked in a big [way]. And obviously it worked out great for us.”

Looking at the overall project, Edmonds has to fall back a bit before sharing which “Boomerang” soundtrack song is his favorite as well as what tune best captures the true essence of the “Boomerang” film. For him, there’s no definite pick. It’s more of a testament to how music and movies are the perfect combination for representing a particular time in life.

“I don’t know if I have a favorite. Obviously, you would think it would be “End of the Road.” The truth is from “End of the Road” to “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” or even Johnny Gill’s “There You Go,’ when you listen to things, you hear where we were at the time, you know, who we were at the time. That’s what’s I think is ultimately kind of cool about it. It’s in listening to things from the past is that it takes you there to that time period. And that’s a special thing, a clear vision at that point,” the Edmonds expressed.

“I think it’s hard to put that on one particular song [to capture the essence of “Boomerang”]. I think the whole thing because as you mentioned, A Tribe Called Quest. That was such an important part and the P.M. Dawn record was important. “End of the Road” was important. “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” was important. Johnny Gill was important. Everything had a place. So I think the project as a whole, it’s not one particular song I think that defines it. And when that happens, then I think you’ve done your job well.”

To hear “Boomerang” soundtrack hits “Give U My Heart” and “I’d Die Without You”, scroll below:

 

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