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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

*** VARIOUS ARTISTS, "Soul Food" soundtrack, LaFace/Arista

September 14, 1997|Elysa Gardner

The last film soundtrack that producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds graced with his multi-platinum touch was the acclaimed "Waiting to Exhale," which showcased a dizzying array of contemporary R & B and hip-hop luminaries, including Aretha Franklin, Toni Braxton and Chaka Khan. This time out, Babyface and his co-executive producers, wife Tracey E. Edmonds and Antonio "L.A." Reid, have amassed an equally eclectic and star-studded lineup, ranging from Puff Daddy to the G-rated harmony group Boyz II Men.

What most of the songs on this album share are lithely sensuous arrangements and unabashed sentimentality. Whether it's the Boyz offering "A Song for Mama" in sweet, pining tones or the En Vogue ladies dreamily pledging their love on the ultra-romantic "You Are the Man" or Total cooking up slyly suggestive, bass-heavy funk on "What About Us," these tunes celebrate the ways people connect with and complete one another.

Or, in the case of Dru Hill's slow-groovin' "We're Not Makin' Love No More" and OutKast's sultry, pulsating "Let's Do It Again," they plead for such connection and completion. If you're willing to run the risk of a little sugar shock, this is tasty, often nourishing stuff.

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Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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Hear the Music

* Excerpts from these albums and other recent releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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