Please join the Albumism team in celebrating Teddy Riley’s musical legacy and share your personal memories of him with us in the comments below!
Born: October 8, 1967
Biography (via TeddyRiley.com): An innovator credited with creating New Jack Swing, a genre of music whose influence permeated musical categories including contemporary R&B, Hip-Hop, Gospel, Soul and Pop since the early ‘80s, Grammy award winning , multi-platinum mega-producer Teddy Riley continues to remain a relevant force in entertainment.
Companies including Yamaha, PreSonus, and AKAI have benefited from the his technical expertise lending to the creative properties in some of their products which have been major contributions on today's ever-evolving market. For more than 30 years, Teddy Riley’s career has embodiedingenuity as a recording artist, Songwriter, Producer, Composer, Arranger, Engineer, Music and Technology expert and World music trailblazer. With over 1000 credits to his name, the musical icon has been inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame and was recently awarded the Soul Train Legend award for his works in creating The New Jack Swing Era of music whose impact changed the sound of R&B indelibly.
As a child prodigy since the age of 5, Teddy Riley’s gifts manifested themselves as he began playing multiple instruments at church in his hometown of Harlem, New York. His uncle owned the famed Harlem club The Rooftop and built a studio in the club in which at age 14, a precocious Riley would spend most of his time crafting beats for local New York emcees. Under the tutelage of local music producer Gene Griffin, Riley formed his first group, the short-lived Kids at Work.
In 1985 Riley worked on the production of Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew's "The Show,” but things would take off for the producer when at the age of 17, he would produce rapper Kool Moe Dee's 12" single, "Go See the Doctor" which would became a crossover hit, reaching #89 on The Billboard Hot 100. Sought after for his impeccable ear, and masterful ability to fuse musical styles to create a fresh feeling, Riley’s writing and producing for other artists was ushering a new sound that would become known as New Jack Swing.
On November 25, 1987, the New Jack originator co-produced R&B singer Keith Sweat’s debut solo studio album titled Make It Last Forever, which sold three million copies. The biggest hit from this album was the song that inaugurated the New Jack Swing era, "I Want Her" (#1 R&B/#5 Pop), and was nominated for the 1989 Soul Train Best R&B/Urban Contemporary Song of the Year award, while the title track from the album hit #2 on the R&B charts.
In 1987, Riley, Aaron Hall, and Timmy Gatling formed the R&B group Guy. Managed by Gene Griffin, Riley's work with Guy pioneered the New Jack Swing style of R&. Riley infused his own unique blend of hip-hop beats, R&B progressions and the Gospel vocal stylings of Hall to create the archetypal New Jack Swing sound on Guy's eponymous debut.
In 1989, Riley produced Big Daddy Kane's "I Get The Job Done", as well as other work for The Jacksons, The Winans, James Ingram; he also created the highly successful remix of Jane Child’s "Don't Wanna Fall in Love,” which became a crossover pop smash. During the era of New Jack Swing, Riley composed, produced and/or wrote Billboard chart topping, award winning RIAA certified hits and LPs for his Multi-Platinum R&B hit group Guy (“Groove Me,” “Let’s Chill,” “I Like,” “Teddy’s Jam”), Johnny Kemp (“Just Got Paid”) Bobby Brown (“My Prerogative”), Heavy D (“Now that We Found Love”), High Five (“The Kissing Game”), The Winans (“It’s Time”), Wreckx-N-Effect, SWV, Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, Patti Labelle, Whitney Houston, Al B. Sure!, MC Hammer, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, NSYNC, Big Daddy Kane, New Kids on the Block, Joe, Kenny Lattimore, Robin Thicke, Boys II Men, Lady Gaga, and an extensive list of others.
After the release and tour of Guy's second album The Future, Riley co-produced half of Michael Jackson's album Dangerous, on the recommendation of Jackson's long-time producer Quincy Jones. He also won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album Non-Classical. Featuring the Riley co-produced singles "Remember the Time,” "Jam" and "In the Closet,” Dangerous remains the most successful New Jack Swing album of all time with 32 million copies sold. The album also received three Grammy Nominations for Best Pop Vocal Male, Best R&B Vocal Male and "Jam" as Best R&B Song. Nine singles were released coupled with hit song “Remember the Time” and it was Michael Jackson's fastest selling album in the United States with gross earnings for Sony at a bit over a billion dollars. The RIAA certified Dangerous seven times platinum. This was the most successful New Jack Swing album of all times. Riley also produced four songs on the Invincible LP by Michael Jackson in 2001.
Guy disbanded in 1992, and Riley moved on to the production, performance and promotion of Wreckx-N-Effect's second album Hard or Smooth. Based in Virginia by this time, Riley discovered and signed production duo The Neptunes, composed of Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, during the making of Wreckx-N-Effect's smash hit single "Rump Shaker.”
In late 1991, Riley formed a second group, Blackstreet. The group would go on to release several major hits, including "Don't Leave Me" (1997), the number one single "No Diggity" (1996, featuring Dr. Dre and Queen Pen), and "Girlfriend/Boyfriend" (1999, with Janet Jackson, Eve, and Ja Rule).
Making a natural progression in composition, Riley hit the big screen with his film score/composition credits boasting placements in films like Do the Right Thing, Rugrats The Movie, House Party, CB4, Money Train, Panther, Get on the Bus, The Preacher's Wife, Wild Wild West, Two Can Play that Game, King's Ransom and American Reunion. Teddy Riley is the first African American music producer from the U.S. to produce K-Pop (Korean Pop Music) and bring it to America. The hitmaker spends part of the year working in Korea with S&M Entertainment for their top recording artist in his studio in Seoul, Korea. In late March 2015, he produced another world-wide No.1 K-Pop hit titled "Call Me Baby" by EXO which had over 18 million YouTube views within a month, the song reigns on the Billboard charts in 9 categories and is holding the No.1 position on World Album charts.
There is a non-conventional and technical driving force that continues to flow within Riley’s musical dexterity bringing only the most prolific legendary signature sound to the multi-genre masses historically and today alike. From composing and producing R&B, Hip Hop, Pop and K-Pop hit songs, his schedule remains non-stop in the studio. He continues to perform with his group Blackstreet aka BS2 coupled with solo engagements and even stints on television shows like VH1’s hit show Love & Hip Hop. Teddy Riley, BS2 and several of the famed artists he historically produced continue to tour and perform timeless hits. Between his studios in Seoul Korea, Los Angeles and Atlanta, this iconic force stays creative in the lab working on tracks for numerous artists and special projects.