Throughout his 25 plus year career, Teddy Riley has been connected to musical greatness. As the creator of the groundbreaking R&B/hip-hop music hybrid New Jack Swing, the influential Harlem native has rocketed to legendary status since his pioneering work with Doug E. Fresh, as producer of the now classic 1985 single “The Show.” Riley went on to top the charts with the headlining likes of Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown; lead his own super trio Guy to platinum glory; create landmark studio collaborations with the late Michael Jackson and return to the R&B charts again with his Grammy-winning outfit Blackstreet.
And like everyone else in the music industry and beyond, the recent tragic death of 48-year-old celebrated pop diva Whitney Houston is still fresh on the mind of Riley. After all, he worked with the otherworldly diva on the 1992 Bobby Brown duet “Something In Common.” “She’s one of the greatest singers to ever do it,” Riley recalls. “Whitney was taken away from us much too soon.”
But as news continues to surface on the inner-details of Houston’s death, Riley says that friends and family of the towering vocalist have not been getting enough respect by the media and some fans. One person in particular, Ray J—singer and brother of R&B veteran Brandy—was in a very public relationship with Houston. Some observers have attempted to dismiss Ray J, who gained infamy as Kim Kardashian’s co-star in the now infamous sex tape, as a mere boy toy for the “I Will Always Love You” star. And some detractors even made light of his very emotional showing at Houston’s funeral (Ray J can be seen breaking down in tears as Houston’s casket was carried out of the church).
But according to Riley, Ray J had been a main bright spot for Houston. “Ray J really had Whitney’s ears,” Riley recalls of the couple’s relationship. “He was there for her. He was there through everything she went through. He was a true friend.” One fact that Riley says gets underreported is Ray J’s positive relationship with not just Houston, but her daughter Bobbi Kristina.
“Ray J was there for Bobbi Kristina,” he says. “Some of the things that I’ve seen and heard, Ray J was there for both of them through it all. I can’t really say too much because I know the true stories and its private. There was talk of another Bodyguard movie. I really wanted to work with her on the Sparkle soundtrack. I know Whitney was on her way back up.”
Riley is currently in the studio working on a Blackstreet reunion album. He also has taken his sound to international heights, becoming the first R&B talent to find global success with the Korean music scene as the producer behind the popular girl pop act SNSD aka Girls Generation—who has since inked a US deal with Interscope Records.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)