Last updated: 12/24/2010 11:00:00 AM
Teddy "Street" Riley, heralded composer/producer/singer and leader of platinum soul supergroup BLACKstreet, power-crooner and group co-founder Chauncey "Black" Hannibal, and talented new members Eric Williams and Mark Middleton, take R&B to ANOTHER LEVEL for '96 - and far beyond.
Like it's title suggests, and introduced by the funkdafied, feel-good lead single No Diggity (produced by Riley and William Stewart, and featuring a phat rap intro by Dr. Dre), the impressive new interscope album elevates contemporary urban music, expanding its soulful parameters in the process.
"ANOTHER LEVEL" is a reflection of where BLACKstreet has been, where we're at, and where we're going," explains Teddy, acclaimed architect of the historic '80s R&B/hip-hop revolution still globally revered as "New Jack Swing."
Still residing on BLACKstreet, where the extremely gifted new "residents," Eric and Mark, have comfortably settled in, Teddy and Chauncey report the group's future has never looked brighter. However, setting the record straight, Teddy says about BLACKstreet's personnel changes: "The departure of Levi [Little] and David [Holister] was unexpected and a little unsettling at first, but we wish them well. You see, Chauncey and I have always made BLACKstreet's long-term vision a priority.
So when Mark and Eric stepped in we immediately realized the change was a blessing in disguise." "Our sound is stronger, tighter and more diverse now," Chauncey chimes in. "And since Eric and Mark both sing incredible leads and harmony, me and Teddy have more vocal support than ever. It's a win-win situation any way you slice it."
Winning has been his forte before and after Teddy Riley burst onto the performing scene in 1988, singing with and producing platinum hits for GUY, the soul/R&B trio who changed the sound, style and direction of male R&B groups forever.
With more than 32 platinum records to his credit - working with Michael Jackson, Keith Sweat, Bobby Brown, SWV, Heavy D, Wreckz 'n' Effect, and many other top artsits - Teddy's musical influence is eternally woven into R&B's rich, ever-evolving tapestry.
A respected writer/producer in his own right, when New Jersey-born Chauncey Hannibal (whose R&B credentials also include singing backup for Bobby Brown and GUY) teamed up with Teddy in 1993 to make BLACKstreet a reality, ironically, the lineup cold hav eincluded New Jersey-reared Eric Williams.
A close friend and pre-BLACKstreet singing partner of Chauncey's, the gospel-honed Williams recalls, "We both wanted to be down with Teddy, and when Chauncey did it, I was really happy for him. But I admit, now that I'm down with him too, I'm much happier."
The melodic passion ingrained in Mark Middleton's timeless tenor and fearless falsetto clearly adds to the emotional sonic wealth of ANOTHER LEVEL.
Brooklyn born, South Carolina raised, and now based in Virginia, the college-educated Middleton says he's also realizing a dream come true. "I've waited a long time for this opportunity, and God knows I couldn't be working with more talented down-to-earth
It's no accident that BLACKstreet's second CD was titled ANOTHER LEVEL. Teddy illuminates: "From stronger leads, to hyper harmony, to more live instruments, to ending the album on a spiritual high note. The Lord Is Real (Time Will Reveal), this is the off-the-hook album we wanted the first one to be."
"No Diggity," for now and way into the next millenium, the permanent platinum address of solid soul R&B is #1 BLACKstreet.