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Youth Movement

Howie B.
Mark Alesky

Tot-Hop: Howie B. grooves for the youngest members of his listening audience on "For the Babies"

On 'For the Babies,' hip-hop master Howie B. croons ambient love songs to the infant crowd

By Nicky Baxter

WHEN I FIRST heard For the Babies, I couldn't believe who was responsible. Hip-hop's larger-than-life (literally, if not figuratively) Howie B had actually put together an all-instrumental effort. And it's aimed not at the babes but at babies. For the Babies (Island Records) isn't, it can be said without much fear of contradiction, what Frank Zappa would call a strictly commercial venture, although parents of toddlers ought to set their preconceptions aside and give the album a try. What's not to like about a record that soothes rather than assaults. Picture it: young LaConda joggling atop your lap cooing her little heart out in no particular key or time. Meantime, daddy's head is nodding to the Stevie Wonder­style grooves Howie B and company are cutting.

Like much of the disc, the title track is ambient in the way that early Pink Floyd was; indeed, if the Wonder connection doesn't ring a bell, try the Floyd's "Echoes" for a comparable sense of the cosmic. No doubt, this music will puzzle people used to the cherubic hip-hop head's bobbin' beats, but they probably don't know about B's recent collaborations with sonic tinkerer Eno and U2. Trip-hop for tots, For the Babies is a boldly contemplative view of life in the often racket-wrecked parenthood.

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From the August 29-September 4, 1996 issue of Metro

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