The Trailblazer: Teddy Riley (and G.R. Productions)

Teddy Riley

Teddy Riley was born on October 8, 1967 in Harlem, New York. By the age of 17, Riley found himself collaborating with MC Ricky Dee (Slick Rick) and Doug E. Fresh on 1984's eternal hip-hop classic, "The Show". In 1986 he did some remix work with more hip-hop acts around the New York area, including future Uptown/MCA Records label mate, Heavy D.

By 1987, Teddy Riley was an extremely busy individual, and a highly sought out producer. With the help of Gene Griffin, Teddy formed G.R. Productions, the musical collective that spawned (among other things) the "Guy" project, an R&B trio that would come to epitomize what the New Jack Swing era was all about: Hip-hop influenced R&B, with a distinct dance element. The original line-up of Guy was Teddy Riley, Aaron Hall and Timmy Gatling.

Meanwhile, Teddy had lent his innovative production skills to both Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown, two of the New Jack Era's largest icons. It was Teddy's voice and beats that infused Keith Sweat's "I Want Her" with it's irresistible swagger; and Guy's background vocals (atop of Teddy's production) that made Bobby Brown's "My Prerogative" such a Top 40 smash.

Early on during the Guy campaign, group member Timmy Gatling left the group citing creative differences, and was replaced by Aaron's younger brother, Damion. When Guy's debut album finally dropped in 1988, it was an instant success. With songs like, "Groove Me", "Piece of My Love", "You Can Call Me Crazy" and "Goodbye", R&B fans just couldn't get enough of the three-man outfit, and particularly Aaron Hall's powerful vocals.

GUY (l to r): Aaron Hall, Teddy Riley, and Damion Hall

By late 1988 and throughout 1989, Teddy Riley was the undisputed King of New Jack Swing - and the music world was listening. Big Daddy Kane collaborated with Teddy on "I Get The Job Done", an undeniable mix show classic to this day. Teddy also produced Heavy D's "We Got Our Own Thing", which was an enormously huge hit, and even branched out to the world of gospel music, producing "It's Time" by the Winans with co-producer Bernard Belle. By the summer of 1989, Guy was even featured on Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing soundtrack with the track, "My Fantasy".

Guy even managed to find time to hit the road with New Edition on their 'Heartbreak' tour. In some locations it was reported that there was a lot of tension between the two acts (Guy was actually upstaging New Edition on their own tour!) and that once a melee had actually broken out onstage when members of N.E. emerged during Guy's set. But by the time the tour was over, Guy and New Edition had officially reconciled.

In the fall of 1989, Teddy Riley unveiled a hip-hop trio named Wrecks'N'Effect (note the spelling), released on his uncle Gene Griffin's record label, distributed by Motown Records. Featuring lead MC Aquil Davidson, Teddy's younger brother Markell, and Teddy's dearly departed half brother Brandon Mitchell, Wrecks'N'Effect enjoyed a highly successful first single, entitled "New Jack Swing". Teddy also found time to work with R&B group Today, and rappers Kool Moe Dee, and the Red Head Kingpin.

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