The back story on Keith Sweat's seminal Make It Last Forever, for its 25th birthday
By the mid 1980s, R&B was at a generational crossroads and rap was on the rise. An amalgamation of the two genres was being made in the St. Nicholas Projects in Harlem, New York, where a prodigious music talent named Teddy Riley joined with an up-and-coming artist named Keith Sweat. The result brought a seismic shift in urban and pop music when Make It Last Forever was released on November 24, 1987. The New Jack Swing movement was born, and it proceeded to dominate much of pop for the remainder of the decade into the early 1990s.
Make It Last Forever went on to sell more than three-million copies and left an indelible mark worldwide. On the occasion of Make It Last Forever's 25th anniversary, I spoke with Teddy Riley about crafting an album that served as a launch pad for a hugely successful genre.
How did you become involved with Keith Sweat and crafting his debut album?
My music career started with a band called Total Climax. We competed in a band competition in New York, New York. Keith Sweat was in another group called Jamilah. His group was one of the top bands out there that everyone loved because they had singers with different ranges. He was a falsetto singer and then he would come down to the Jeffrey Osborne-type of singing voice. I was like, "Wow" when I first saw him perform. I was the keyboardist for my band and when we performed in the Big Apple band contest, we actually beat Keith's band. I was very excited about that when it happened. From that day on, I would always say, "What's up?" to him and he would say, "What's up, shorty?" He didn't really know my name and I didn't know his at that time. I just knew his band was amazing.