9/26/2007

For The Love Of Teddy..Riley That Is...


I would like to take a moment and introduce a new contributor to THE ZRO HOUR, ANDREA. Andrea has a passion for R&B music and she has a wealth of knowledge about some of the greatest R&B acts of the hip hop generation (late 70's-present). From time to time, Andrea will examine these greats, their music and many others that have been overlooked or forgotten about. Just in time for the 2007 VH1 Hip Hop Honors, Andrea examines the career and journey of the creator of "New Jack Swing", TEDDY RILEY. Check out our Teddy Riley Tribute from 2004 HERE. If you would like to read more on the history of New Jack Swing, check this SITE. Take it away Drea...


I was going to use this opportunity to talk about the Pied Piper of R&B, R.Kelly but this time I chose another musical genius to talk about. T.R. himself, Mr. Teddy Riley. Teddy had the 90's on lock-down for sure. Everyone who was anyone worked with him. His beats were crazy and he produced numerous hits. New Jack Swing was the label that was put on his sound. It was definitely different from anything you heard. I have the utmost respect for this man as far as his talent as a producer and musician goes. As a singer.... no comment. I will say he can talk a song. I felt more proud due to the fact that this brother was not only from Harlem (just as I am), but the  projects he lived in at the time was neighboring to mine (Holla). I do have a tiny, slight disagreement with him though. You will see why after I give you some of his background. In 1988, Teddy Riley formed a group called Guy. When the video for "Groove Me" (the first single) was released, we were introduced to three young men. T.R. and brothers Aaron (lead singer) and Damion Hall but when you buy the CD (or cassette tape.... I'm telling my age now), you see Teddy, Aaron, and this other dude whose name is Timmy Gatling. If you were to read the liner notes, you see Damion Hall's name and no mention of Timmy. He released a solo album in 1989 but the only time I heard him sing was on "You Can Call Me Crazy" & "My Business" off the debut album. I sort of remember a video but then again.... Then you have the 1990 release of "The Future". Teddy really showed his skills on this CD. He had issues with the management he was working with previously but in the end, they were able to resolve them. Little did we know that "The Future" was going to be the end of Guy. ""Let's Stay Together" is a song on that album that Teddy later stated in an interview was a subliminal plea for the group not to split. Later on, in 1994 we were introduced to Blackstreet. Again, Teddy did the damn thing producing a string of more hits with his new group. "We want to be the next Temptations",  I've heard him say on many occasions. Ended up being the truth to a point. That group changed members more than the average person change their underwear.... ok... I'm exaggerating but you get the point. In the meantime, Aaron Hall released three solo albums. "The Truth" which was released in 1993 is the only one worth mentioning in my opinion. Through research, I found out he released a third one in 2005 which I will be checking out but the second release was a waste for me. Damion Hall released "Straight To The Point" in 1994. I personally enjoyed this CD. My family teased me by saying that I would be the only one at his concert. I did buy it because he was my favorite member of the group but I really think the public should have given it a chance. He released the single "Satisfy You" featuring Chante Moore from that CD.

In 2000, Guy fans were treated with not only a reunion but a new release simply titled "Guy III". I thought it was a good album but it was short lived. Teddy found himself going back to Blackstreet in 2003. In 1999, the world lost a man who was an idol of and a huge influence on Teddy. This man had everyone interested in "Computer Love". I am speaking of course about the late Roger Troutman. I remember watching a tribute show to Mr Troutman and saw Teddy speaking about how much he admired him and wanted to work with him. He said when Blackstreet would do a show, he would have an extra set -up just in case he wanted to get on stage with him. This is true. I remember seeing Blackstreet when my boys New Edition did their "Home Again" tour and I saw the extra keyboard but I thought it may have been for back up. Anyway, if I'm wrong then I'll be the first to admit it but I feel like this- Why didn't he just call whoever he needed to call to get to work with this man? Why would Teddy think that his mentor would seek him out? Keith Sweat worked with him on is 1994 release "Get Up On It". The song is called "Put Your Lovin Through The Test"  which is a slow song and it starts off with Roger in his computer voice saying, "Let me go down on you, Baby". Oh Lawd, have mercy on my soul.  He also worked with Johnny Gill on his 1996 release "Let's Get The Mood Right". The single "Girl It's Your Body" deserves an Oh Lawd, have mercy on my soul too. Of course these are two of many who has worked with the late Mr. Troutman. What's Teddy's excuse? I feel that Teddy had a dream and was blessed to be able to follow through with most of it. Somewhere along the line though, ego may have gotten in the way. Not saying that it was all his fault, but he had two groups that didn't last and lost the chance to work with the one man who inspired him to pick up a keyboard (with a long plastic tube) to create a sound that millions love and later copied. Though I'm on the outside looking in, one plus one equals two. Teddy Riley made music that is loved by many and is timeless but he didn't achieve his goal of having a successful group that was long lasting. Again, only my opinion.

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