The Life Of BLACKstreet’s Riley

Dec. 5, 1996 — While Blackstreet has made a name for itself with “No Diggity” (which sat atop the singles chart for four weeks), the multi-talented Teddy Riley has been a prime mover in hip hop since the early 80s.

Before reaching the top of the charts this year with the song “No Diggity,” producer/writer extraordinaire Riley created a new genre of music in the 80s. Combining R&B vocals and hip hop beats, Riley invented “New Jack Swing.” But Riley’s first foray into music started on the streets of Harlem in New York City.

“I’m from the rap world,” Riley told MTV News. “I came up with rap. When Flash was rocking the beatbox, I was rocking the beatbox too.”

After recording two platinum albums with the R&B trio Guy, Riley went on to write and produce hits for Wreckx-N- Effect, Kool Moe Dee, Michael Jackson and Bobby Brown. Brown’s tune was in fact a collaboration with future Blackstreet member Chauncey “Black” Hannibal.

“We (Riley and Hannibal) were working
on Bobby Brown, the third album, and what happened was we were writing a song for him. We started writing it, he started singing, I said ‘Yo, we should put a group together cause this sounds good man, we should keep this song for ourselves.’”

They didn’t keep the song but they did keep their partnership going by forming Blackstreet in 1993. This year, Blackstreet released their latest album, “Another Level,” with two new members, Eric Williams and Marc Middleton. The Blackstreet/Bobby Brown connection will continue this winter when the group joins New Edition for a U.S. tour kicking off in Albany, New York, on December 26.