*Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Teddy Riley may be one of the most underrated artists of our generation. Credited with the creation of the New Jack Swing genre, Teddy pushed the boundaries of music and constantly reinvented his brand through his production work with artists such as Michael Jackson, Bobby Brown, Doug E. Fresh, Keith Sweat, Heavy D., Usher, and his memorable hits with groups Guy and Blackstreet.
Millennials may not know – but NEED to know – that Riley had a “massive impact on the formation of contemporary R&B, hip-hop, soul and pop since the 1980s.” Sadly, however, he’s only won a single Grammy in his entire career.
While the music industry may not ever properly award Teddy for inventing a completely new genre of music, VH1 compiled a noteworthy list of Teddy’s accomplishments, starting with the creation of New Jack Swing.
1. He Created New Jack Swing.
Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines new jack swing as “pop music usually performed by black musicians that combines elements of traditional jazz, electronica, smooth jazz, funk, rap, and rhythm and blues.”
The genre has its roots in Teddy’s hometown of Harlem, New York. New Jack Swing (AKA Swingbeat) spoke for the people on the streets. Classic movies like “New Jack City” and “Boyz N the Hood” featured some of the biggest New Jack Swing artists at the time, like Christopher Williams, Keith Sweat and of course Teddy himself. As VH1 notes, “the sound of new jack swing comes from the hip hop “swing” beats created by drum machine, and hardware samplers, which was popular during the Golden Age of Hip Hop, with contemporary R&B style singing.”
2. Teddy is responsible for making Michael Jackson rap for the first time.
Riley co-produced half of Michael Jackson’s album “Dangerous,” which featured Teddy’s co-produced singles “Remember the Time”, “Jam” and “In the Closet.” The album remains the most successful New Jack swing album of all time with 32 million copies sold.
3. He discovered The Neptunes.
We certainly hope Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are sending Teddy a thank you card every Christmas because they may not be as successful as they are today had it not been for him. Riley noticed the duo after they entered a local talent contest. Impressed by their skills, he signed them following their high school graduation. The duo got their first break working with Teddy on Wreckx-n-Effect’s sophomore album, “Hard or Smooth.”
Click here to read the rest of the article, and if you’re familiar with his work, let us know why you believe Teddy remains music’s most unappreciated producer.