Spin - 8/94, pp.87-88
Highly Recommended - "...Lest we forget, Teddy Riley's spring-heeled, pyrotechnic production extravaganzas had a seismic impact in a field then dominated by obsequious balladeers dressed like head waiters..."
Q - 10/96, p.1794 Stars
- Excellent - "...an album of two halves. First they work up a sweat with some serious dance grooves...while the second half is all champagne and silk sheets....still a very sexy record."
The Source - 10/94, p.82
"...Overall, the album plays like a fat blend tape and it is consistently enjoyable....Blackstreet's debut is one of the better total R&B packages to come out recently..."
Blackstreet: Teddy Riley, Chauncey "Black" Hannibal, Levi Little, David Hollister (vocals).
Additional personnel: Knowledge [Richard Iverson], Chance [David Roland Williams], Nutta Butta [Menton Smith], T-Pirate [Antwone Dickey], Miggity Mark [Markell Riley] (rap); Serban Ghenea (guitar); Chad Hugo (saxophone); Tammy Lucas.
Producers: Chris Smith, Leon Sylvers, David Wynn, Markell Riley, Michael "Flip" Barber, Erick Sermon, David Wynn, Teddy Riley.
Engineers: George Mayers, Serban Ghenea, John Hanes.
All songs written or co-written by Teddy Riley except "Love's In Need" (Stevie Wonder). Samples include "Outstanding" (as performed by The Gap Band), "Bon Bon Vie (Gimme The Good Life)" (Sandy Linzer/L. Russell Brown), "Papa Don't Take No Mess" (as performed by James Brown) and "Atomic Dog" (as performed by George Clinton).
Having worked with great performers (Michael Jackson to name just one), it is no miracle that producer Teddy Riley once again comes forth with yet another successful act. This time, it's not Guy, or Wreckx-N-Effect; it's Blackstreet, a male R&B group consisting of four members including none other than himself, Teddy Riley. BLACKSTREET, the debut album, is the model example of today's R&B, filled with samples and subliminal reappearances of old school themes.
Recreating one of hip-hop's classics, Blackstreet's version of Redman's "Tonight's Da Night" is a slow grooving love song using the same horn and vocal harmony to create an R&B favorite. Although no group can perfectly match Stevie Wonder's talent on any remake, Blackstreet brings back memories with their version of "Love's In Need Of Love Today." "Booti Call" uses interpolations of George Clinton's "Atomic Dog," questioning the primal male urge ("Why must I feel like that/Why must I chase the cat?"). BLACKSTREET is 20 tracks, either about love or sex, with full intention of setting a mood.
Teddy Riley is an impeccable craftsman and genius of sorts, not to mention a trendsetter. In releasing so much product, however, his music can also occasionally descend into a pedestrian, formulaic version of new jack swing, the production style he himself invented, fine-tuned, and perfected. That pitfall plays out intermittently on Blackstreet's debut album. Some of the music and vocal harmonies blend together or sound like new jack retreads, and a handful of the songs are so commercially savvy and obviously directed toward the mainstream public that it is hard to wholly enjoy them. Some of the songs, too, are less than fully formed, consisting of just a single melody or groove that exists for the sole purpose of moving feet and/or giving the quartet an excuse to harmonize. More often, however, Blackstreet hits the spot with a sleek and inventive progression on the new jack template, sharpening and filling out the sound that Guy made famous. Riley makes sure the beats are hip-hop savvy and the bass is booming, and then slathers squealing synthesizer lines all over them. Frankly, he is not technically a fantastic singer, at least in comparison to his three harmonizing mates, but his voice has such a distinctive character that it has always been entirely ingratiating, making up in expressiveness for any lack in range or virtuosity. The songs on which he takes lead invariably stand out the most and tend to be the most appealing cuts. The glue on the album, though, is the tight four-part harmony singing of Blackstreet, and it leads to some brilliantly catchy R&B tracks, songs that easily stood out in the mid-'90s urban soul crowd. ~ Stanton Swihart