Smooth Urban Grooves is an edgy, jazzed-up compilation of songs written by some of today's most prolific pop, hip-hop, and R&B hit songwriters. If there was any doubt as to whether the songs of hip-hop culture could transcend the genre, then this compilation by the Soul Providers featuring Bob Baldwin serves notice that a hit song can make it in any idiom as long as it's in the hands of a creative musician. The ensemble created exciting new arrangements of such songs as Jay-Z's mega hit "Encore," Nelly's "My Place," and monster hits by Mariah Carey. The Usher/Lil Jon/Ludacris composition titled "Lovers and Friends" retains its soulful ballad ways, while the addition of certain jazz elements delivered from Baldwin's keyboards and the soulful horn charts played to the hilt by Nelson Rangell and Marion Meadows give a whole new urban jazz feeling to "Hate It or Love It," originally written by the Game. Additional songs by 50 Cent, John Legend, Mariah Carey, Anthony Hamilton, Alicia Keys, and Kanye West make this compilation an enjoyable listen, so get your groove on.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein