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POP EYE

L.A. Reid & Babyface May Dissolve R&B Reign

July 25, 1993|David Adelson

The celebrated team of L.A. Reid & Babyface, one of the most prolific and profitable songwriting and production partnerships of recent years, may be on the verge of a split.

The two, who co-own the highly profitable LaFace record label, have been a key force in shaping R&B music in the past few years, and rank with Teddy Riley and the team of Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis as top creative figures in the genre. Among the artists who have benefited from their production skills: Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown, TLC, Paula Abdul and Johnny Gill.

Since both partners have declined to comment, it's not clear when or why the rift started. But the word is that Kenny (Babyface) Edmonds has grown restless and is looking to work on his own, apart from Antonio (L.A.) Reid.

Edmonds' successful solo career--his 1989 album "Tender Lover" sold 2.5 million copies--has been cited as a possible reason for the breach, but according to a reliable source, it wasn't a factor. His second solo album for Epic, "For the Cool in You," is due in late August.

There have been discussions with attorneys in an effort to reach an agreement. Both parties are reportedly hoping for an arrangement that would keep the partnership intact while allowing for independent work, but the possibility exists that this could be the end of the team. When the dust clears, there will be an announcement detailing the results of the negotiations.

Edmonds and Reid remain contractually bound as a team, however, through LaFace, a joint venture with Arista Records. To date, LaFace has provided Arista with the "Boomerang" soundtrack album and the debut album from TLC, both of which have sold more than 2.5 million copies.

In addition, LaFace just released the debut album by Toni Braxton, featuring the L.A. Reid & Babyface-produced single "Another Sad Love Song," which industry handicappers say is a lock to go Top 10.

"Whatever agreement they reach will have absolutely no impact on their label deal," says Arista executive vice president Roy Lott, who noted that the LaFace deal with the company has "a long time to go."

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