Bobby Brown’s hit song “My Prerogative” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 24 weeks in 1989 and was also nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best R&B Urban Contemporary Single category. Despite the song’s accolades and commercial success, the recording process was apparently not peaches and cream. Just ask the producer of the track, Teddy Riley.
In a recent conversation on Essence’s Yes Girl! Podcast, the prolific musician discussed how he and Brown had a few issues behind the scenes of making the hit song, mostly pertaining to an argument about the modal register of the track.
“[Brown] sung it just like how we wanted it,” Riley says of the song, which was recorded at his house before going into the studio for the final version. “We was bull-crapping around and that’s how it’s supposed to be...The problem was when we got to the studio and it was time to sing, he wanted to go on tenor-only mode.”
Riley continues by explaining that the song is “too high” for tenor-only mode, which caused a rift because Bobby don’ttttt give a damn. Eventually, he got so frustrated that he stormed out of the studio and didn’t return for three hours.
“I was like, ‘Well, listen. We don’t have to do this,’ and then [Bobby] walked out on me,” Riley continues. “I was like, ‘I could take this song and give it to someone else.’ But this was made strictly for him.” After returning, Brown issued an ultimatum: if the song is recorded just as Riley wanted and it doesn’t turn out right, he’ll be recording it his way.
“I’m so glad it frustrated him because it came out on the record,” Riley says of the song, which ended up working out in his favor vocally. “It sounded like he was determined for people to stay out of his business. It’s my prerogative and you felt it...You’ve got to push an artist beyond what they’re thinking and what they feel like they can do. That’s when they know they can do more. Some artists, they just settle. I don’t settle.”