Let's Argue! Teddy Riley Versus Babyface Is Happening. Here Are the 20 Songs I'd Choose for Each

Illustration for article titled Let's Argue! Teddy Riley Versus Babyface Is Happening. Here Are the 20 Songs I'd Choose for Each
Photo: David Livingston/Jesse Grant (Getty Images/Getty Images for NAMM)

The one really fun and entertaining thing about this COVID-19 shut-in situation is the emergence of beat/song/hit “battles” between so many of our faves. While somebody has to lose in these instances (Mannie Fresh, I see you whoadie), the legacies of the artists are set in stone, so it’s more fun and games than true kingmakers or career-enders. In some cases, folks are even being put up on game; I see YOU, Johnta Austin. If you know, you know. Plus, it’s really fun to see thousands of folks from all walks of life—from celebrities to folks you don’t know—tuned in to the same thing enjoying tunes that revolutionized sound and moved a genre forward.


There are no losers here.

Well, on Thursday night, it was announced that Teddy Riley—architect of New Jack Swing sound and producer behind a slew of genre-defining hits in the ‘80s and ‘90s for folks from Bobby Brown and SWV, to Mary J. Blige, to Michael Jackson (along with his own groups Guy and Blackstreet)—and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds—the man who basically wrote and produced every great song in the entire late ‘80s and ‘90s not written and produced by Prince and/or Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis—will be battling it out with 20 of their best jams on Sunday at 6 pm, EST. Every other battle (so far) is mere child’s play because this is the most must-see-internet-for-music-heads ever. Mine eyes and ears will see the glory, inshallah.

The hits that these two super-producers are responsible for are Psalms-level long. They’ve both been parts of the same seminal albums and helmed careers of artists we know and love today. They’ve helped put others on. Short of the aforementioned Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis versus whomever really wants that smoke, there are few others I’d actually pay to see battle it out. Sidenote: Babyface (and L.A. Reid) vs Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis is also something I’d pay for.

Well, because I’m a masochist, the first thing I thought about when this battle was brought to my attention is how in the hell either could limit their catalog to their 20 best and bangerest jams (bangerest is subjective there; will there be a lot of slow jams involved)? But like I said, I’m a masochist. So I decided to share with you all the 20 songs I think will make appearances from each (in no particular order). What say you? What you got?

Teddy Riley

1. Hi-Five “The Kissing Game”

2. Bobby Brown “My Prerogative”

3. Keith Sweat “Make It Last Forever”

4. Keith Sweat “I Want Her”

5. Michael Jackson “Remember The Time”

6. Guy “I Like”

7. Guy “Let’s Chill”

8. Blackstreet “Before I Let Go”

9. Blackstreet “Joy”

10. Blackstreet “No Diggity”

11. Bobby Brown “One More Night” (sleeper)

12. Bobby Brown “Two Can Play That Game”

13. Bobby Brown “Get Away”

14. Guy “Piece Of My Love”

15. Wreckx-N-Effect “Rumpshaker (Remix)”

16. SWV “Right Here (Human Nature Remix)”

17. Heavy D. & The Boyz “Is It Good To You”

18. Blackstreet “Booti Call”

19. Profyle “Liar”

20. Kool Moe Dee “Wild Wild West”

[Editor’s Note: The Root Staff Writer Jay Connor insisted that “Groove Me” make the list; I stood tall. He is still insisting.]


Babyface (hardest list I’ve ever made)

1. Babyface “It’s No Crime”

2. Boyz II Men “End of The Road”

3. Tevin Campbell “Can We Talk”

4. Karyn White “Superwoman”

5. Johnny Gill “My, My, My”

6. Toni Braxton “Love Shoulda Brought You Home”

7. Mary J. Blige “Not Gon Cry”

8. Whitney Houston “I’m Your Baby Tonight”

9. Whitney Houston “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)”

10. Bobby Brown “Roni”

11. Bobby Brown “Don’t Be Cruel”

12. Dru Hill “We’re Not Making Love No More”

13. Boyz II Men “I’ll Make Love To You”

14. Babyface “Never Keeping Secrets”

15. The Whispers “Rock Steady”

16. TLC “Baby, Baby, Baby”

17. After 7 “Can’t Stop”

18. Bobby Brown “Every Little Step”

19. After 7 “Ready or Not”

20. Bobby Brown “On Our Own”

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.


Jay Connor

After some extensive negotiations, we came to an agreement on most of these, but I will never in life forgive you for leaving “Groove Me” off this list. I will harbor that grudge until my dying day.