What's the Deele with Babyface
Updated: Jun 29
The recent Instagram battle between Babyface and Teddy Riley, which broke the record for most viewers on Instagram live, has generated a lot of interest in the two legendary songwriters, producers and performers. But many fans are unaware of the impact these two talented artists have had on popular music. So Riddimstyle will take you down memory lane to look at the early beginnings of & Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and his eventual business partner Antonio "L.A." Reid. The two producers began their distinguished careers in an R&b band, The Deele. They were formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, by Bobby G. Summers and L.A. Reid in the early '80s with lead vocalist Carlos "Satin" Greene, Darnell "Dee" Bristol, Stanley Burke, and Kevin Roberson. Before joining the Deele, Babyface had been a member of Manchild, who had a minor R&B hit with "Especially for You" in 1977.
The Deele, signed to Dick Griffey's Solar label, had their first hit in late 1983, when "Body Talk" entered Billboard's Black Singles chart. Though the song reached only number 77 on the Hot 100, it reached number three on Black Singles, which helped the group's debut album Street Beat crack the upper half of the Billboard 200. Two subsequent singles from the album, "Just My Luck" and "Surrender," dented Black Singles. Still, the group's second album, 1985's Material Thangz, was a disappointment, as it launched only one hit R&B single with the number 14 title track.
Between the release of Material Thangz and 1987's Eyes of a Stranger, Babyface and L.A. Reid began making a name for themselves as producers and songwriters with their work for Pebbles ("Girlfriend") and the Whispers ("Rock Steady"), among others, becoming hits. In the wake of Babyface and Reid's success, "Eyes of a Stranger" became a hit, went gold, and launched the Top Ten pop and R&B hit, "Two Occasions," as well as the number ten R&B hit "Shoot 'Em Up Movies." Following the release of Eyes of a Stranger, the group went on hiatus, and Babyface and L.A. Reid continued their successful production and songwriting work.
They eventually formed the famous Laface Records in 1989. The label was responsible for breaking several massive stars, including Jermaine Jackson, Donell Jones, Kenny Lattimore & Chante Moore, OutKast, Pink, Goodie Mob, Usher, and YoungBloodZ, T.I. and TLC.
Apart from producing and writing some of the biggest hits of the 1980s and 1990s, Babyface enjoyed a very successful solo career. La Reid continued as a very successful record executive until he was ousted from the helm at Epic Records in 2017 due to accusations of harassment