An architect of new jack swing as a singer in Guy and a songwriter and producer for many acts, Teddy Riley helped forge a new direction by combining the smooth harmonies of soul and doo-wop with hip-hop’s swagger and force. Formed in New York in 1993 after Guy’s breakup, Blackstreet saw Riley take full advantage of the vocal prowess of his new bandmates Chauncey Hannibal, Levi Little, and Joe Stonestreet. Two hits from the self-titled 1994 debut, “Booti Call” and “Before I Let You Go,” were arresting showcases of Riley’s mastery as both a producer and arranger. But “No Diggity” was the true game changer. With the supremely funky Dr. Dre collaboration that led off 1996’s Another Level, Riley fused R&B and hip-hop—along with a bluesy sample from Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands”—to create a sound whose impact and influence would be felt for decades. (Indeed, Drake and Bruno Mars are just two artists who owe Riley a big debt of gratitude.) Unfortunately, internal disputes prevented Blackstreet from maintaining momentum and Riley soon retired the band and released a new album with Guy in 2000. Still, there was plenty of the old firepower on display when a Riley solo project became Blackstreet’s fourth album, Level II, in 2003. While Riley found yet more success as a producer as part of the QDT team with DJ Quik and Snoop Dogg (he also became one of K-pop’s secret weapons), Hannibal and Little launched a new version of Blackstreet in 2014 for a spate of international tours.
ORIGINNew York, NY