On Monday, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Teddy Riley had everyone—including Michelle Obama, Snoop Dogg, Brandy and Angela Rye to name a few—tuned into their epic Verzuz rematch, which relived nearly three decades of massive R&B and hip-hop goodies.
In between the behind-the-hits stories and cool uncle shade thrown between the two mega hitmakers, the 500K Instagram Live audience let out a collective “I didn’t know that!” when Babyface casually said, “This is not R&B… let me play my White song.”
The singer-songwriter-producer picked up his guitar and strummed Eric Clapton’s “Change the World,” which Babyface produced in July 1996. The pop tune would later win Song of the Year at the 1997 Grammys.
Babyface’s multi-genre catalog of hits made us think of other pop and rock songs we love that were written or produced by Black creatives. After asking a few music lovers in group chats, here’s a shortlist of well known classics (“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Connor) and surprise hits (“Human” by Human League) that Black artists wrote, produced or remixed for White artists. Take a look.
1. “Take A Bow” – Madonna (Produced by Babyface)
2. “Human” — Human League (Produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis)
3. “Manic Monday” — The Bangles (Written by Prince)
4. “Lady” – Kenny Rogers (Written by Lionel Richie)
5. “Let’s Dance” — David Bowie (Produced by Nile Rodgers)
6. “All I Have to Give” – Backstreet Boys (Produced by Full Force)
7. “Justify My Love” — Madonna (Music by Lenny Kravitz + Andre Betts)
8. “Nothing Compares 2 U” —Sinéad O’Connor (Written by Prince)
9. “Armagideon Time” — The Clash (Written by Willi Williams)
10. “The Reflex” — Duran Duran (Remixed by Nile Rodgers)
11. “Baby” — Justin Bieber (Written by Tricky Stewart and The-Dream)
12. Like a Virgin — Madonna (Produced by Nile Rodgers)
13. “The Shape of You by Ed Sheeran (Co-Written by Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Cottle and Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs)