Babyface is exactly the kind of artist that excites me most to see appear behind the Tiny Desk. He’s been celebrated for decades (the man has 12 Grammys) but stands just short of being a household name. His beloved songs — mostly written for other singers — can be hard to appreciate under layers of studio gloss. He’s the kind of guy you just know has insane musical chops, even if he doesn’t always get to show them off.
Needless to say, Babyface didn’t disappoint when given the opportunity. For the second entry in NPR’s celebration of Black Music Month, he was joined by Tank, Avery Wilson, and a radiant Chanté Moore to present his hits largely unadorned. Especially jaw-dropping was Moore’s rendition of one of Babyface’s first “girl songs”: “Superwoman,” originally released by Karyn White in 1989. And of course, the inclusion of Boyz II Men‘s number one hit “I’ll Make Love To You“ was a pretty massive flex.