“There can be miracles when you believe”—this isn’t just a quote from a Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey duet that Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds produced, it’s a summary of what happened on Monday night.
After the bombastic blip on Saturday night, half a million of our closest friends gathered around Instagram Live to watch the rematch of Teddy Riley vs. Babyface on Instagram Live. Let’s revisit the highlights, shall we? In fact, let’s revisit them in the theme of Teddy’s and Babyface’s playlists from the evening.
I guess it wouldn’t be a Teddy and Babyface “Verzuz” battle without technical difficulties and that’s exactly how we kicked things off. The two reached peak uncle—once again—when they couldn’t decide whose account to broadcast the battle on. At one point, Teddy’s video kept freezing so much, he basically looked like a censored bar. Oh, and his phone ran out of battery. Toward the end, they had to go on their separate accounts to play their last couple of songs (and the dancing hype man returned!), but not before hilariously announcing on their separate broadcasts that they would be going to the other’s broadcast. Oh, uncles.
Teddy came attired in his usual “uncleisure” (shouts to Damon Young) and Babyface showed out in his vivacious velvet. Oh, and Teddy had a “tile” wrapped around his neck, which I’m just going to go ahead and assume was a subtle shout-out to Tyrese instead of the logical conclusion that it was probably just his sweat rag. And shout-out to Babyface’s background of candlelit Grammys. That’s a Zoom meeting virtual background to download if I’ve ever seen one.
Since we’d already started with technical difficulties, the experience seemed like a bout of deja vu and folks were naturally on edge. And yet, the fellas decided to play almost every single intro, bridge and interlude of each song—which is wholly unnecessary in a song battle. For a minute there, we thought it would become the battle that never ended.
One of the best parts of these battles, aside from the music and shit-talking, is the behind-the-scenes stories, and these two didn’t fail to deliver. Being the epitome of greatness means you typically work with greatness, so hearing stories about Madonna, Michael Jackson and Halle Berry was certainly a treat.
One thing I want to note is that Teddy introduced “I Like” as a song people made love to, but everyone called shenanigans. Let me find out these TikTok youngins were conceived to that song.
Anyway, Tevin Campbell reminded us that his beloved hit “Can We Talk” was pretty damn stalkerish so that was hilarious.
Lovingly dubbed “Shadyface” by Black Twitter, Babyface certainly proved he was a master at the art of shade. The best shade is calm and effortless. In fact, one of Babyface’s shadiest moments was summed up in one word: wow. Oh, and Mr. Edmonds thinks your little remixes are cute, but he doesn’t diddle-daddle in those.
Look, we definitely appreciated Teddy’s low-key approach this time. But, as time went on, it was clear he had a production crew behind that closed door when he kept conveniently leaving the room every time Babyface dropped various hammers (and didn’t even drop one of the biggest hammers from his entire hammer-filled soundtrack until the very end). LOL, you ain’t slick, Sir! Then, Babyface basically became Terrence Howard’s Quentin from The Best Man and whipped out his guitar to perform “When Can I See You” live, leaving Teddy no choice but to match that instrumentalist energy with his keyboard.
Raekwon tried to come for Tyrese’s misspelling crown and referred to the late Luther Vandross (who recently had a birthday on April 20) as Luther Vandal, who I imagine is a singing-ass British detective whose first single is “Your House Is Not Your Home.” And yes, Teddy Riley pronounced “memes” as “mims,” the latter of which is a rapper who once had a hit called “This Is Why I’m Hot.”
All joking aside, both men were such good sports and it truly ended up being the feel-good night we needed to kick off the week. Personally, I hadn’t laughed that hard (‘til tears) in a long while—or, at least since our stay-at-home order life began.