Interview: Teddy Riley on His Success, Heavy D, Michael Jackson, K-Pop, and Making a Baby

You’re logged on to with a front row seat in the Liquid Lounge for our next featured interview! This guy’s an international music icon and a true super producer. His multi-platinum-selling, multiple-awards-winning career in the recording industry is the stuff of legend. He reshaped Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Pop music as a singer, songwriter, producer and musician, plus laid a foundation for generations of artists to follow. Grammys, #1 hits and albums, he’s done it all and is still doing it. Here he is – Teddy Riley!


Liquid Lounge Radio: Teddy, you’re referred to as a super producer. You’re also a great songwriter. Having the talent to do both well has helped fill your catalog with timeless hits. How do you make them both come together so well?


Teddy Riley: Making a record work is not always in the writing and production. Sometimes it’s in the concept. It’s in the concept of the video. It’s in the execution, and the execution is what matters. The end result is what matters.


Liquid Lounge Radio: Well, the concept of “Rump Shaker” has been reused repeatedly by countless artists. This also makes us think of “Nite and Day” by Al B. Sure. He used a subtle concept from Guy’s “Groove Me” where he echoed snippets of the hook throughout the verses. And like “Groove Me” it still holds up today.


Teddy Riley: Yo, “Nite and Day” stands the test of time because Al B. Sure was one of the guys who wasn’t afraid to explore his falsetto. And the style of that music, we don’t really have anyone today besides Maxwell to really hit it hard with the falsetto. Back in the day we had Philip Bailey and the Chi-Lites. And I can’t forget Ron Isley. For that style of music there’s still a void. And a song like “Nite and Day” is still filling the void. A lot of people don’t know what they’re missing until they hear it. But I’ll tell you this: the lovers in the bedrooms know all about it! Put on “Contagious”. Somebody’s making a baby!


Liquid Lounge Radio: Your work as a recording artist making soul music with Guy and Blackstreet made a lot of babies and spawned lots of end results that still matter to this day. But as a producer of other artists your music’s been everywhere and across multiple genres. What’s it like to hear so much of your music from other artists too?


Teddy Riley: Man, it’s like being the little kid in Five Heartbeats when she heard her brother’s song on the radio! That’s how I feel every time I hear my music. That was the one thing that really gave me inspiration. It let me know my music was meant for the masses.


Liquid Lounge Radio: The way you make music today, is that affected by you getting older?

Teddy Riley: Well, most of the time when you get older, and you get older in the business, you feel like “maybe my music is getting dated”. But I’m like a scientist, and I strive to find new discoveries by using ideas that’s different from what’s out there.


Liquid Lounge Radio: Like what you’ve done with the K-Pop movement in Korea. We still don’t think the masses realize how involved you’ve been.


Teddy Riley: Yeah, I’m pretty famous out there! I’m working with a few companies there. I’ve stayed there long enough to build a lot of relationships with the right people. That’s why they want me to keep coming back. They want me to do video interviews and a few shows out there. I’m all about seeing what I can do to take it to the next level.


Liquid Lounge Radio: You’ve built relationships with an incredible number of iconic artists. Talk to us about your relationship with Heavy D for a moment.

Heavy D.

Teddy Riley: He’s the cause of me moving back to America because I was living in Korea! I felt like I wouldn’t want my family to experience losing me out of this country like his family with him being in LA. His family wasn’t there to really be there to help him, or get him to the hospital. They just weren’t there. I feel like he’s one of the reasons why I moved back. He was one of my best friends in the whole wide world. I lost a brother, I lost a friend, I lost a musical partner that when we put our heads together it was like magic beyond magic. But it’s more than music. My home was his home. He was family through in-laws, so we had a great connection.


Liquid Lounge Radio: You were also able to bond personally and professionally with Michael Jackson. What was it like working with “The King of Pop”?


Teddy Riley: It was amazing, man! It was like school. It was like doing a science project that could control the world, and if you failed…you’re out! It was like being nervous but you have to be in control because you’re the producer. Michael put me on the spot a few times to become the controller, not the writing partner or collaborator. He wanted me to control what I wanted him to do and sing.


Liquid Lounge Radio: Teddy, you continue to have an impact on singers. We saw it in the movie ‘Pitch Perfect’, which was a global hit that spawned two sequels. We saw it in the eyes of all the young artists in attendance at the Soul Train Music Awards when you received the Legends Award. You’ve made a big impact on so many careers, but who made the biggest impact on yours?

Teddy Riley: The people who played a very, very, very important part in my life and my whole career was Michael Jackson, Don Cornelius, Arsenio Hall, Donnie Simpson, and Frankie Crocker. Those are the people who really got me here. |LLR


[Written By Jiddoe S’Phatt | Interview by Jiddoe S’Phatt | Edited By Mr. Joe Walker | Thank you Teddy Riley and thank YOU for visiting to enjoy this interview! | Don’t miss our radio show “Liquid Lounge” with host DJ Metro on 97.3FM The Beat, Saturdays 6 – 9pm EST | “From Grand Rapids to the World.”]


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