Teddy Riley talks ‘‘Verzuz’’ battle with Babyface, his legacy, give props to Chris Brown and H.E.R., and more

In an exclusive interview with REVOLT, Teddy Riley discusses his IG Live battle with Babyface, his legacy, the current state of R&B and more. Read here!

  /  04.27.2020


REVOLT.TV is home to exclusive interviews from rising stars to the biggest entertainers and public figures of today. Here is where you get the never-before-heard stories about what’s really happening in the culture from the people who are pushing it forward.

Teddy Riley believes in doing it for the culture.

Since entering the music scene in 1987, Riley has shown that he is a chameleon, and able to adapt to the shifts and turns that come with the ever-changing music business. Real diehard fans might recall that he made his debut with his breakout group Guy in 1987. Throughout their time together, they released three studio albums. As for babies – however – they often draw reference to Riley’s Blackstreet days, which started in 1993 and served as a powerful R&B group with himself, Thomas R. Taliaferro and Chauncey “Black” Hannibal.

In addition to his successful career in boy bands, Riley proved that his songwriting abilities are untouchable. No matter the generational age gap, it’s quite impossible not to sing along to some of his staples including “Piece of My Love,” “Deep,” “Goodbye Love,” and “Is It Good to You” to name a few, which all have an undeniable amount of soul, love and authenticity that is hard to find in R&B songs today.

With his long list of accomplishments, Riley doesn’t have to compete at this point in his career. Earlier this month, he took part in a friendly Instagram Live “Verzuz” battle in which he went hit-for-hit with Babyface, who he considers an inspiration. Prior to the big day, fans had their calendars marked for the special occasion and were taken aback when the two had to postpone the special event several times due to technical difficulties and unforeseeable circumstances.

Nonetheless, when the highly anticipated battle finally took place, it was a night to remember. Fans from various parts of the world – over 4 million to be exact – tuned in to the broadcast, which broke Instagram’s record for the most viewers tuned into a live session. The two music legends also saw an increase in streaming numbers following the event, which further proved that the love for classic R&B will never die.

In our exclusive interview with the music icon, Riley opened up about his epic battle with Babyface, his thoughts on the current state of R&B, his legacy and more. Read below!

Yourself and Babyface finally had the chance to go head-to-head in an IG Live battle. How was that experience for you?

For me, it was amazing. It was like taking the finals for a big college test. The first test I failed (laughs). I came with too much. I was trying to give everybody more. I was doing an afterparty. I wanted to do 20 or 40 more songs and it just didn’t turn out right due to the technical difficulties. I still felt amazing about it. I always say, “God has a plan” and that plan was just organic of it being postponed. It was rescheduled for Monday. So, in between Saturday and Monday, the memes, they got at me. It was the most incredible cyber of roasts, ever. I’ve never been roasted.

Prior to the battle’s official date, there were a lot of unforeseeable circumstances that almost prevented it from happening. Why did you decide to go through with the battle?

To me, it wasn’t a battle. It was for the culture. It was us jamming, playing music for the people and keeping them engaged. That was my thought pattern. I would never battle Babyface, but if it’s something for the culture, you know, I’ll do it just for the fun of it.

What surprised you the most about that experience?

The views surprised me and the people who couldn’t get in. It was like going to The Palladium in New York or Bentley’s [Discotheque] and you have to exchange wristbands with somebody who is not going back in the club and take their ticket. That’s exactly what happened. People couldn’t get in. It was over capacity with over 4 million plus.

Do you have any favorite moments from that night that will resonate with you for a long time?

My favorite moment was when Babyface pulled out the guitar and played one of my favorite songs. We’ve known each other for a long time and I’ve always looked up to Babyface. When this all came about it, I just said, “I’m just playing my songs with him because this guy is the No. 1 writer of all time” in my book.

What are your thoughts on the current state of R&B?

From the result of “Verzuz,” R&B is coming back. People want that. People want to feel loved again. R&B is at a neutral level right now. It’s about to really take off.

What do you feel like R&B is missing today?

R&B is missing the caidence, it’s missing the love. It’s missing the essence of blackness. People want to be pop. Instead of being real with the world about how much we need love, and how much we need to be together and save relationships, you know, people are falling out of love. Marriages are being broken up because we don’t have the tools to keep it together, which is the love music.

You’ve put in more than twenty years into your craft. Do you feel as though you get the credit that you deserve? If not, does it bother you?

Everyone always says that I don’t get the credit I deserve. I can only go with my flow. The truth will come out or the truth has with this “Verzuz.” “Verzuz” has brought Babyface and I — and our streams — to everything. Our catalogue went up. I literally feel like this is amazing. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m getting my just due. I’m doing what I love, which counts for me.

Who do you feel is underrated or who people should be paying attention to?

That’s a great question. I really feel like artists like Joe, he’s probably one of the ones that I feel like people should pay attention to. He’s an incredible singer. There’s also Charlie Wilson, Anthony Hamilton, Maxwell, Eric Benet, and Toni Braxton, who’s been in the limelight for so long. I’m just excited to see R&B artists really come to the forefront. It’s going to be dependent on what they come with. Sometimes, artists can be in their own way, and that’s the reason why you don’t hear from them. So, that’s my take on it. It’s really about what you do and how you approach your audience. It takes the right thing at the right time.

I want to thank Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. I also want to thank Diddy for him coming out and saying, “I want to bring R&B back.”

What producers do you credit for paving the way for the next generation of artists?

Producers like Timbaland and Pharrell are at the utmost because they’ve made an impact in music, and really impacted a lot of artists. You don’t find a lot of people birthing artists. Producers of today like London [on da Track] and DJ Mustard, who is responsible for Ella Mai. The producers that birth artists, that’s respect, period. You bring in something new to the platform.

We need our new Micheal Jackson. We need our new Whitney Houston. Ella Mai, for me, and H.E.R., are like the new Prince meets baby girl Aaliyah. If they keep up the great work, they will fulfill those spots. When a person leaves us, there’s always one that comes back like them. H.E.R. is the female Prince to me. She’s growing to be that if she keeps up the great work. She plays incredibly. I’m like, “Wow.” It blows me away when I hear females perform as strong as artists you would never think that we would get again. I didn’t think we would get a rendition of a Prince or Michael Jackson. I’m hoping that Chris [Brown] just keeps it up so he can fulfill that spot. You got Usher. He’s that superstar. The other artists that I mentioned are growing into their superstar. Usher and Chris are already there.

With the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic, what are some of the ways that you and your family are finding ways to cope?

My family and I connect every day. It’s really about family. My mom is here [with me], so every morning I wake up to my mom. She cooks for us every day. We had the battle and she was here supporting me. It’s been really cool chilling with my family that’s here. My family is also in Atlanta, California and different parts of the south.

Before the IG battles come to an end, what two artists or producers would you love to see face off?

I would love to see the females. I would love to see Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson, and Keri Hilson. A lot of people don’t know how many hits [Keri] made. Ciara, too. She’s been around a long time, and made some amazing and impactful records. I think that women deserve that platform and they gotta do it. I’d also like to see Diddy and Dr. Dre. We’ll see who steps up.

What does your quarantine music playlist look like? Who are you jamming to at the moment?

I’m not jamming. I’m rolling with the flow of things that come on Instagram. I’m usually doing music. I have a studio in my bedroom and I have two other ones. We’re in the studio every day. Right now, I’m cyber working with everyone. My playlist [consists of] other people’s new songs that I’ve been working on.

With everyone social distancing, many are taking the time to do self-reflection. When you look back on your legacy, what do you want to be remembered for?

The battle, the concerts and the Blackstreet concert. I think so far, I’ve made some impact, you know, especially with the battle. We’ve got more concerts coming. We’ve got a concert coming with Keith Sweat and myself. I want to be remembered for keeping the families going, keeping people in the home to watch concerts, and the activities that we’re putting together for them. I want to be remembered for speaking to the Atlanta board, and a lot of people in Atlanta because they’re [re]opening up Atlanta [amid Coronavirus]. To me, that’s a setup. I think that everyone needs to stay in as much as they can. If you really need to go outside, go get stuff, but then bring it right back.

Describe what your perfect exit looks like. 

I don’t know if there will be an exit. I’ve seen my godfather, who is an incredible composer, and he’s still doing it. Quincy Jones is still rolling and he’s in his 80s. So, I don’t know what my perfect exit looks like. If it’s resting or chillin’, that’s what I’m going to be doing – chillin’. Family trips. When we get older, we want to feel more family. We want to feel the presence of family members.




View More



View More


Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicks off at Central State University

On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.

  /  11.14.2023

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour visited Mississippi Valley State University

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.

  /  11.22.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

Walmart continues HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour during lively Virginia State University stop

After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.

  /  11.14.2023

Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University

On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart has everything you need for the tech enthusiast on your shopping list

Check out our gift guide that highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds in time for Black Friday.

  /  11.10.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicked off at Central State University

In October, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University. The HBCU located in Wilberforce, OH was the first stop on Walmart’s Black and Unlimited HBCU Tour.

  /  11.28.2023

Groovey Lew on hip hop style, Johnell Young's industry secrets, BGS salon's wig mastery and more | 'Black Girl Stuff'

Fashion King Groovey Lew on masterminding hip-hop’s most iconic looks. Actor Johnell Young reveals the secret to breaking into the entertainment industry. Celebrity hairstylist Dontay Savoy and got2B ambassador Tokyo Stylez are in the BGS Salon with the perfect wig install. Plus, comedian Lauren Knight performs.

  /  11.15.2023

Pheelz talks expressing himself through music & his biggest inspirations | 'On In 5'

On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!

  /  07.11.2023

Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!

  /  07.10.2023

Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'

On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.

  /  07.12.2023

BNXN talks leaving IT for music, linking with Wizkid, going viral & new album | 'On In 5'

For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!

  /  08.08.2023

From city lots to lush gardens: The power of urban farming with Karen Washington

This is the inspiring story of Karen Washington, a pioneering urban farmer who has been revolutionizing urban spaces by transforming them into vibrant community gardens and educational hubs. Sponsored by State Farm.

  /  11.17.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

Best chef's kiss | 'Bet on Black'

“Bet on Black” is back with an all-new season! Watch as judges Pinky Cole, Bun B, Van Lathan, and Target’s Melanie Gatewood-Hall meet new contestants and hear pitches from entrepreneurs Saucy D and Chef Diva Dawg.

  /  10.24.2023

Good taste test | 'Bet on Black'

With the help of host Dustin Ross and correspondent Danielle Young, entrepreneurs Diva Dawg, Brooklyn Tea, and The Sable Collective pitch their ideas to the judges. Watch the all-new episode of “Bet on Black” now!

  /  10.31.2023

Lauren London sparks conversation on how Black parents unintentionally give kids negative outlook on money

At the live taping of “Assets Over Liabilities” at REVOLT WORLD, Lauren London opened up about how witnessing the financial decisions adults made during her childhood fueled her outlook on money. 

  /  10.26.2023

Madam DA Fani Willis proclaims, “A lie has been told on African American men”

“Every time I’m in trouble, it’s been Black men that have come to my aid,” Madam DA Fani Willis said at REVOLT WORLD while speaking on the stereotype that they are not dependable or worth dating.

  /  10.11.2023

Black media leaders stress the space's importance because we're always antagonists in mainstream's storytelling

“I definitely feel those ‘heavier is the crown’ moments. But I also believe that Black entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to be successful in the future,” Detavio Samuels said at AfroTech.

  /  11.03.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes