The Twittersphere went berserk earlier this month when iconic music producer Teddy Riley announced he and the legendary Babyface would engage in an Instagram Live beat battle on Saturday (April 18).

This “Celebration of Black Music Excellence” between Riley and Babyface has 35-and-up Hip Hop fans salivating to hear a myriad of Midas-touched hits from their late 1980s and 1990s heydays.

It’s just as important for the millennial generation to tune in because Riley and Babyface are connected to today’s most popular Hip Hop artists.

Here are four important facts about what could be a better battle than RZA and DJ Premierand what Swizz Beatz, Timbaland and others are anticipating when the two parties square off.

Babyface & Teddy Riley Helped Bridge The Gap Between Hip Hop and R&B 

After Riley produced the late Johnny Kemp’s memorable Billboard R&B and Dance chart-topping single “Just Got Paid” in 1987, Riley’s uptempo new jack swing sound didn’t settle as a one-hit wonder. 

When Bobby Brown was fired from Boston-based R&B stars New Edition in 1986, he went solo and used Riley’s increasingly popular new jack swing sound to become the complete package of singing, rapping and dancing, which drew the urban music audience to the dance floor and record store shelves. 

Rap groups in the late 1970s and early 1980s such as the Cold Crush Brothers, Crash Crew and Fantastic Five used harmonized melodies in their rhyme routines long before Brown. But by 1988, Hip Hop had moved on to more intensified or conversational rap delivery styles by then to emulate popular acts such as LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, EPMD and Rakim. 

That same year, Brown released his multi-platinum sophomore album Don’t Be Cruel, which enlisted Babyface and Reid to handle the lion’s share of the production.

This period between 1988 and 1989 was the apex of Brown’s career: His raps were included on several of his LP’s biggest hits, including the title track, the Grammy Award-winning “Every Little Step,” his Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip Hop chart-topping single “My Prerogative” co-written by Riley. “On Our Own” from the Ghostbusters 2 film soundtrack were also co-produced by Babyface and his longtime business partner L.A. Reid and stayed at No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart for three weeks. 

Also, most of the production duties for the former King of R&B’s third album Bobby in 1992 was co-produced by Babyface, Reid and Riley.

This R&B-inspired vocal style was adopted by rappers in the late 2000s, well after Brown fell out of the limelight. Yet, there’s a litany of today’s rap contemporaries such as Drake, Roddy Ricch, Tory Lanez, Young Thug, Trippie Redd, Lil Uzi Vert, Kanye West and Kid Cudi who owe gratitude to what Babyface, Reid and Riley did with Brown over 30 years ago. 

Teddy Riley Was A Rap Producer Before He Created New Jack Swing In the ’80s

The 52-year-old Riley grew up front and center to Hip Hop culture’s formation in New York City during the 1970s and early 1980s. When rap records transitioned from their archetypal live band production sound to shrill synth keyboards and Roland TR-808 drum machine beats during that time span, Riley was a prodigious teenage multi-instrumentalist who adopted those elements to craft his own production techniques. 

He co-created Harlem’s earliest rap anthem “The Show” in 1985 with fellow legends Doug E. Fresh and his rhyme partner MC Ricky Dee (a.k.a. Slick Rick) of the Get Fresh Crew. The fuzzy keyboard riff was a variation of then-popular 1980s cartoon Inspector Gadget. After that, he produced the 1986 rap hit single “Go See The Doctor” by Treacherous Three alum and rap great Kool Moe Dee.

Photo: Catherine McGann/Getty Images

These hits came before Riley created his signature new jack swing sound with his seminal R&B group Guy. It fused a sped-up version of “New York bounce” derived from drumbeat of The Honeydrippers’ 1973 oft-sampled track “Impeach The President” as well as a fusion of swinging jazz motifs, dance-pop flavor and R&B that defined urban contemporary and rhythmic radio formats in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

L.A. Reid & Babyface Helped Put Atlanta Hip Hop On The Map In The ‘90s

The starting point for Atlanta’s Hip Hop scene is in the late 1980s and early ’90s. However, the city’s rap soundscapes didn’t have their own identity. Songwriting from A-Town’s pioneering rappers Kilo Ali, Bronx transplant MC Shy-D, Raheem The Dream and producers Mr. Collipark (formerly DJ Smurf) and DJ Toomp were heavily influenced by Miami’s electro-style keyboards beats, thunderous 808 bass kicks, high-frequency drums and hi-hats (the later three elements also evolved into the basis of trap music).

After Reid and Babyface left their R&B band The Deele in 1989, they moved to Atlanta the following year to form LaFace Records. That imprint laid the groundwork for ’90s R&B with its roster of singers, including Toni Braxton, Chanté Moore and Usher. In addition to Jermaine Dupri’s upstart label So So Def and his signed teenage rap stars Kriss Kross, Reid and Babyface offered Atlanta’s new sound to urban radio with their Hip Hop-influenced R&B acts TLC and rap comrades Outkast and Goodie Mob of the Dungeon Family crew. 

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Outkast and Goodie Mob became the most important rap acts on LaFace’s roster after they were signed in 1993, and its funk and gospel-inspired music production from their in-house crew Organized Noize that staked a new polarity for Hip Hop’s centralized blocs in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. 

Plus, L.A. Reid and hit-making producer Dallas Austin formed Rowdy Records also in 1993. They signed and released albums from Atlanta-based formidable rap acts including Illegal, Da King & I, one of alternative rap’s original groups Y’All So Stupid and another Hip Hop-influenced R&B songstress Monica the following year. 

Teddy Riley Was The First To Bring Pharrell Williams & The Neptunes To Prominence

Riley was vital to helping launch the careers of The Neptunes’ Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, arguably the most decorated production duo in the music industry since Babyface and Reid.

The Guy and Blacktreet co-founder once owned Future Records Recording Studio located in Virginia Beach, Virginia back in 1991. This was long before he put the studio up for sale in 2008, which subsequently caught on fire that same year.

Nearby that studio were then-teenagers Williams and Hugo, who were part of a group called Surrounded By Idiots, which also included a young Timbaland along with his friend and rapper Magoo. 

Riley noticed their impressive talents at a local high school talent show and took both upstarts under his wing thereafter.

He gave Williams his first golden opportunity as a ghostwriter on the new jack swing architect’s Harlem-based rap group Wrecks N Effect’s hit “Rump Shaker” in 1992.

The song peaked at No.1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart and Riley gave him a second look on R&B trio SWV’s 1993 gold-selling No. 1 single  “Right Here (Human Nature Remix)” by having Williams’ echoing chant “S-W-V” in the song’s hook.

After their formation in 1994 as The Neptunes, Williams and Hugo would later become a highly sought-after production team with Noreaga’s 1998 smash single “Superthug” and went onto release their influential 2002 debut album In Search Of…

So, for Riley’s set in the Instagram Live battle, let’s hope Williams and Chad make a surprise pop-in for the viewers like Big Sean did for Hit-Boy against Boi-1da

The Teddy Riley vs. Babyface battle goes down Saturday (April 18) on Instagram at 9 p.m. EST.

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