by Sean Smith
The Songwriters Hall of Fame announced the list of inductees for its 2017 class last week. The artist’s who are to be enshrined this year are Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, songwriting duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Swedish producer extraordinaire Max Martin, Peter Cetera, James Pancow and Robert Lamm of the band Chicago, Kenneth “Babyface Edmonds, and Jay Z. The induction ceremony is slated to take place in New York on Thursday, June 15.
Jay Z will become the first rapper to be inducted into the prestigious Songwriters Hall of Fame. He has won a record 21 Grammy Awards, holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist with 13 and has sold well over 100 million records throughout his career. He has written hundreds of songs and has released a total of sixteen albums; twelve solo efforts and four collaborative projects.
Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds has written and/or produced 26 songs that have hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The 11-time Grammy winning R&B singer has put out sixteen albums of his own; eleven solo projects, three as a part of the group The Deele and two as a member of Manchild. He has written songs for the likes of Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Madonna and Michael Jackson to name a relative few.
These two titans of the music industry are more than deserving of the honor of being included into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. It can be argued that Jay Z has been at the top of his respectful genre for the better part of the last two decades. It can also be argued that there was no one better within R&B than Babyface in the late 1980s and the early to mid 1990s.
When the Songwriters Hall announced this years inductees and Jay Z and Babyface were among the artists being honored, we knew that the subject of this week’s edition of #tbt here on Clizbeats had to be the 1997 Jay Z single which featured Babyface on the hook “(Always Be My) Sunshine.”
Jay Z made his official debut in the rap game by dropping his debut solo album Reasonable Doubt in 1996. It was received moderately well by critics, who noted Jay’s heavy use of mafia linked lyrics. The album did decently well on the charts as it peaked at #23 on the Billboard 200 album chart. However, it was not initially thought of at the time as the classic it is considered to be today.
With that being said, Jay Z followed up his debut album with his second LP which dropped in the fourth quarter of 1997. The new album, called In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, had a bit less mafia talk and a little more pop sound to it. The biggest example of this on the record was the album’s second single “(Always Be My) Sunshine” featuring Foxy Brown and Babyface. It is considered by many critics and fans alike to be one of the weakest singles of Hov’s career. The album itself is also ranked by many towards the bottom of Jay Z’s entire discography.
The song was produced by Daven “Prestige” Vanderpool of The Hitmen, a group of in-house producers working for Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Records. (Side Note: Puffy’s Hitmen had a big hand in crafting the overall sound of Vol. 1, producing nearly half of the tracks on the record.) The tone of the track is very much of the time period and in the Bad Boy style. In other words, it’s shiny suit rap. If there was any doubt about that fact, just watch the hype Williams directed music video. It’s got Jay Z wearing a bright, almost neon, green colored suit. It’s got him dancing over a rainbow of colored blocks which make up the dance floor. It includes heavy use of the fisheye camera lens. It is everything that you don’t think of when you think of Jay Z.
So with it being announced that both Jay Z and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame this June, this week we take a moment to remember the song that they did together back in 1997 “(Always Be My) Sunshine.” Enjoy.
Jay Z Featuring Foxy Brown And Babyface
“(Always Be My) Sunshine” (Explicit Lyrics)
From: In My Lifetime, Vol. 1,
Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam Recordings