Teddy Riley Says Soulja “Don’t Have Any Morals” and Breaks Down Trap Music from the Beats He Made in the ’80s

"He's making whatever little money he’s making, doing what he’s doing, but he don’t understand that there’s morals to that."

Music legend Teddy Riley pulled a pop-up on Love & Hip Hop Hollywood to check in with his daughter Nia about what’s going on with her on-again, off-again situation with Soulja Boy. The Grammy winner chatted with VH1 about what he really thinks of the rapper’s behavior towards his daughter, as well as his thoughts on the state of popular music.

Are you aware that your legion of fans feel a way about seeing your daughter’s situation play out with Soulja Boy on Love & Hip Hop Hollywood? Is it hard to watch that?
Teddy Riley: I don’t watch it at all. I haven’t even seen myself on there. The reason why is because they are right, in the sense that I can’t stand to go for it, and when I was on the show, I went on the show to actually talk to her because she wouldn’t answer my calls about her situation with that guy. But, my daughter’s grown. I can’t make her. I can’t do what I used to do when she was young and put her on punishment or say, “You can’t go outside” or “I’m taking your phone.” She’s got her own phone and she’s got her own life and all I can do is say, I’m not going to watch.

Now I just get it on Twitter and Instagram, they’re like, “Man, you need to go and slap him” and “You need to go and do this to him,” and I’m like, I can’t do nothing to that gentlemen because the simple fact she’s welcoming it. If she came to me and say, “Dad, this dude is trying to hurt me, and hurt me real bad, and I need something done about it?” Then something would be done about it. Then that would be, “You need to leave him, for good but I’m not going to do nothing to him because you welcomed that. Then you told me you’re fine. When you tell me you’re fine, I’m thinking you’re fine, because you’re handling it.” I said, “If you ever need me to handle something, then I can handle it, but my handling is going to be a little different. I’m going to defend the situation, and I’m going to tell you that you need to leave him alone forever. When you get me into this, that’s when I’m going to say, “Okay, I’m going to be the dad that I used to be. You can’t do that.”

Is there any part of you that’s sympathetic to Soulja Boy because you were a young man in the industry or do you mostly just want to smack him?
No, I don’t want to smack him. He doesn’t know any better. I would probably doubt if he even finished school or even finished the street ordinance of what and how to treat a woman. Now, I have to say, I used to be that way, but I learned as I got older the consequences of doing that. I just think in a karma way, he better straighten up or he’s going to feel it. If not me, nobody, he’s going to feel it.

The thing about it, he don’t have any morals and when you are dealing with a gentleman who don’t have morals or don’t have feelings, whatsoever, and he’s basically about the facade in what’s going on. He’s making whatever little money he’s making, doing what he’s doing, but he don’t understand that there’s morals to that. There’s a life to that. I think he’s an irresponsible as a person, period. I think he wings his life. His life is a winging it, whatever happens, happens. I can walk out on the street and somebody can hit me by a car, and I’m just winging it. That’s his mindset. His mindset is, whatever happens. He’s not thinking about life is short. I don’t think he had that on his mind. That’s why I leave that in God’s hands because I know something is going to get done about it.

Were you worried about her signing up for Love & Hip Hop? Did you have a conversation about it?
Yeah, we definitely talked about it. We talked about it on the show [the first season] because I didn’t know that situation was with him, so when I went on the show it was a serious surprise.

How do you feel like reality TV and social media, just celebrity constantly 24/7 coverage has changed the industry?
When it comes to reality things, somebody says “Did you see this” or “Did you see yourself on this?” [and I reply] “No, I really don’t know about that. Can you send it to me?” I like to hear on my Instagram page, “You suck!” or “You did well,” and that gives me insight on what I need to do. I know that if they didn’t edit a lot of things that I said out, I know that I did good.

As the industry continues to change with social media, reality TV, people having brands, do you think the music is evolving?
Not really. It’s a cycle, it’s a recycle right now. Trap music originated using the 808 bass, and drum sound, which started way, way back when you had Loose Ends. I’m giving references because I would like people to actually go back and research the records like “Tell Me If You Still Care About Me”?

It’s the 808. The stuff I did with Keith Sweat, “Make It Last Forever”? The 808. I started all of this back then, [alongside] Kashif, Nile Rogers, The Loose Ends and the UK folks like Jazzie B from Soul II Soul, all of us, we used the 808 back in the ’80s. So trap music is not something new. It’s just they slowed it down but the sounds comes from back when, it’s no different. I used it with my songs that I’ve done, like “Go See the Doctor”. I want people to Google this so they can listen to it, and they’ll see that we used the same drums back then, and no one has ever really broke it down like this.

Why do you think has made trap music such a huge phenomenon?
I think it’s the kids. I think it’s the listener’s ears. Most of the music lyrically [is] about the streets, about any old thing, with no substance. [It’s] no disrespect because they’re doing what I did [when] I was trying to find my niche. I was trying to find my way with sounds that I used. But the sounds that I used, I created them myself. When I used the 808, it wasn’t influenced by anybody, it was all that I had as far as a drum machine. So I used what I had, I used what was in the studio.

Some iconic artists, like Grace Jones, have said their management advises they collaborate with younger artists to stay relevant. Do you feel that pressure to?
It’s exactly the same. Big offices and radio stations, they look at us and the first thing they think is, “old school.” When D’Angelo comes out, the first thing they’re gonna say is, “He’s old school.” But they’re gonna play the s— out of Gwen Stefani and Mick Jagger, who’s almost a hundred years old. They don’t say he’s old school.

I would produce [a younger up-and-comer] but that’s the only way I would do a cameo. It would be something that I produce and that’s the only way I would do it. I am not in a rush to put out a record because I am waiting for that new leaf to turn over, where the R&B and the urban black artists can get the same respect as the artists that are “legendary,” that are the white artists. I think there should be some fairness. Once that happens, then we can all bring this new, real music back. Remember, those artists play rock music, they play pop music and they play, the world music. We do the same thing, but we do it with R&B and we do it with Blues.