Music and the preservation of culture were the only true winner of the producer/writer battle between Kenneth Edmonds (Babyface) and Teddy Riley.
With that said, a new Instagram record was broken, with over half a million individual Instagram users tuned in to witness history being relived and history being made. Sadly for many, they just couldn’t get their Live videos to connect, leading to many talks of switching platforms. Nonetheless, a host of industry greats such as Tevin Campbell and Toni Braxton were able to take their virtual seats in the audience, and they did make their presence known. There were a host of other timeless singers, producers, and music executives, and even politicians, in the likes of former FLOTUS Michele Obama, who were watching in the shadows.
It’s hard to imagine that the battle was almost derailed, with Babyface contracting COVID-19. Equipment troubles on Teddy Riley’s end, plus his attempt to give an elaborate show instead of simply playing his hits from his laptop, saw a reschedule on April 18. The stage was finally set for two days later, and it is safe to say it is one of the biggest ‘Verzuz’ battles to date, and for that, we have to thank producers/songwriters Timbaland and Swizz Beatz.
Let’s get down to commentary on the actual battle. First off, Babyface is a true showman, perched in front of his mixing board, decked out in his red velvet jacket with a glass of red wine. Riley, on the other hand, was a little less composed and strategic with his approach, possibly deflated from not being able to put on the show he wanted to.
Things got on the way with Teddy Riley dropping the remix of SWV’s “Right Here,” which sampled Michael Jackson “Human Nature.” Babyface showed his true colors throughout the battle, leading much of his entries with short intros. Before dropping “Love Should Have Brought You Home” by Toni Braxton, he recalled Jackson once asking him for Halle Berry’s phone number to take her on a date. The track was a part of the soundtrack for the movie “Boomerang,” which Berry starred in.
The other song for song faceoffs included, Keith Sweat’s “Make It Last Forever” versus Babyface’s own entry, “Soon As I Get Home.” Next, it was all about Johnny Kemp’s “Just Got Paid” from Riley versus The Whispers’ “Rock Steady,” played by Babyface. This quickly showed that while Babyface is truly a legend in R&B, he also has a few new jack swing hits up his sleeve.
The transition went from the 80s to the 90s with Foxy Brown feat. Blackstreet’s “Get Me Home” played by Riley and another one sung and penned by Babyface in the form of “Every Time I Close My Eyes.” The 90s ballads continued in round 5 with Guy’s “Piece of My Love” from Riley and After 7’s “Ready or Not” written by Babyface. The Hi-Five’s “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game) done by Riley went up against Bobby Brown’s “Every Litte Step” written by Babyface.
Round 7 was all about Keith Sweat’s “I Want Her” (Riley) vs. Tevin Campbell’s “Can We Talk” (Babyface); Round 8: Guy’s “I Like” (Riley) vs. Karyn White “The Way You Love Me” (Babyface), Round 9: Heavy D’s “Is It Good to You” (Riley) vs. Tevin Campbell’s “I’m Ready” (Babyface); Round 10: Doug E. Fresh feat. Slick Rick’s “The Show” (Riley) vs. The Deele’s “Two Occasions” (Babyface); Round 11: Jay-Z feat. Blackstreet’s “The City Is Mine” (Teddy Riley) vs. Bobby Brown’s “Rock Wit’cha” (Babyface); Round 12: Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own” (Babyface) vs. Michael Jackson’s “In the Closet” (Riley); Round 13: Babyface’s “When Can I See You Again” (Babyface) vs. Blackstreet’s “Before I Let You Go” (Riley); Round 14: Babyface’s “Whip Appeal” (Babyface) vs. Guy’s “Let’s Chill” (Riley); Round 15: Johnny Gill “My My My” (Babyface) vs. Blackstreet “Deep” (Riley); Round 16: TLC’s “Red Light Special” (Babyface) vs. Janet Jackson feat. Blackstreet’s “I Get Lonely (TNT Remix)” (Riley); Round 17: Karyn White’s “Superwoman” (Babyface) vs. Michael Jackson’s “Jam” (Riley); Round18: Toni Braxton’s “You’re Makin’ Me High” (Babyface) vs. Wreckx-n-Effect’s “Rump Shaker” (Riley).
Sadly, the technical difficulties that plagued the first attempts at the battle came back in the dying rounds, leaving Teddy Riley to not be able to rejoin.
Babyface went ahead and kept everyone entertained with a wonderful rendition of “Dial My Heart” by The Boys and then topped it off with an acoustic version of Eric Clapton’s “Change The World.”
After Riley initiated his own feed, it left fans no choice but to choose between their favorites. Nonetheless, he was able to play Michael Jackson’s “Blood On The Dancefloor. For the closing, round Face reached for Boyz II Men’s “End of The Road” and Michael Jackson’s “Remember The Time.”
Maybe Instagram needs to look into upgrading their platform for these Verzuz battles.
Who do you think won the battle, and who would you like to see next?