This past Monday, after weeks of promo, postponement and mishaps, we finally got the Babyface vs. Teddy Riley IG Live battle we were promised. The battle is the latest in the series of songwriter and producer battles curated by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, and the biggest one yet, with over 500,000 viewers tuning in and hundreds of thousands more watching from “overflow” rooms (i.e., other accounts streaming the live stream).

According to Instagram, nearly four million accounts attempted to watch the battle, causing the app to crash.

The Face/Riley battle was a beautiful rose that grew out of the concrete that is the ongoing global pandemic. As depressing as these times are, this is a moment that simply wouldn’t happen if we weren’t all forced to remain indoors.

The battle was also a celebration of R&B — and more specifically, late-’80s-to-mid-’90s R&B — in a time when the genre seems to have largely abandoned strong vocals and tuneful melodies — the very things that made the classics classic.

In honor of this cultural moment, it is only right that we have two TBT picks — one from Babyface, one from Teddy Riley.

For Babyface, we’re going to go with “Everytime I Close My Eyes,” which features Mariah Carey and Kenny G. The song was the second single from Babyface’s fourth LP, The Day, and peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was nominated for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammys and is considered a signature hit for Babyface. If there ever was a song made for a first dance, it’s this one.

“Coffee and sex in the morning” is the opening line of Kelly Rowland’s new song, so you already know what time it is.

Everything about “Coffee” — the beat, the melody, Kelly’s vocals — oozes with sex appeal. At the risk of being hyperbolic, I’d venture to say it is arguably her best song yet. And if the song isn’t her best, then its video definitely is.

The “Coffee” visual gives us lots of brown skin and beautiful hair, and captures the precise mood of the song. With the exception of one shot, the video is Kelly from wall-to-wall, on the beach in a variety of sexy swimwear (including a see-through number).

Co-written by Marcos “Kosine” Palacios, Syd (from the Internet), Marcus Green and Kelly herself, “Coffee” is expected to appear on the singer’s upcoming album. Watch the video below.

As it becomes apparent that much of America will be on lockdown for at least the next month, there isn’t a better soundtrack for this moment. They won’t let us out.

Written and produced by Akon, “Locked Up” was the lead single from the Senegalese singer’s debut album, Trouble, and a top 10 hit in the summer of 2004. Styles P contributes a verse to the version of the song used in the music video.

This week’s TBT pick is not only appropriate because of its hook — today also happens to be Akon’s 47th birthday.

The year was 2005 and Mariah Carey was 15 years into her career. She had sold more albums and achieved more Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s — 15 at the time — than any woman in history. If she did nothing else, she would go down as one of the greats, but fortunately and unfortunately, Mariah still had a lot to prove.

Today in 2005, Mariah released her tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi. The album is arguably her greatest triumph, but to understand why that is, we would have to examine the four years leading up to its release.

In 2001, MC released her biggest failure at the time, the movie Glitter and its accompanying soundtrack. The project was a monumental setback, but not just because of its relative commercial under-performance — it came with personal drama and endless bad press. In a single week during her promotional tour for the project, Mariah had a series of much-talked about public appearances, including her infamous TRL appearance that had people questioning her mental state. By the end of that week, Mariah would check herself into a hospital for exhaustion. At the time, there were rumors of a mental breakdown, which wouldn’t be confirmed for another 17 years.

Throughout this saga, Mariah rings the alarm about an ongoing sabotage being carried out by her ex-husband and former label boss, Tommy Mottola, with an assist from Jennifer Lopez. It’s all happening behind the scenes, so people write her off as crazy, but she was right.

On top of all of this, her record label, Virgin Records, paid Mariah $28 million to terminate their $100 million contract with her. She was officially the biggest pariah in showbiz.

Soon after Virgin gave her the boot, she signed with Island Records and released Charmbracelet (2002), which also under-performed. The album was only able to chart one of it singles on the Billboard Hot 100, and said single peaked at No. 81.

Mariah had essentially been counted out, but in 2005, we found out that you can’t keep a good woman down.

Mariah had been hard at work on a new album, and by the fall of 2004, she had what she though was a complete project — in fact, she had shortlisted “Say Somethin'” (produced by the Neptunes) and “Stay the Night” (produced by Kanye West) as possible first singles. As legend has it, label head L.A. Reid heard Mariah’s finished product and thought she needed to get into the studio with Jermaine Dupri.

Luckily, Mariah obliged.

The recording sessions with JD — which included Bryan-Michael Cox, Johntá Austin and Manuel Seal — produced four songs that would all become singles for The Emancipation of Mimi. “It’s Like That” was released as the first single, and while it was her highest-charting single in years, it failed to crack the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

And then came “We Belong Together.”

With “We Belong Together,” Mariah was officially back. The song became her record-extending 16th No. 1 hit, spending 14 weeks at the throne and becoming the biggest song in the history of American radio at the time. It was followed by “Shake It Off,” which only peaked at No. 2 because “We Belong Together” wasn’t done cooking. The fourth song resulting from the 2004 JD sessions, “Get Your Number” (featuring JD himself), was released as a single internationally but not in the States.

For the album’s reissue, Mariah got back into the studio with JD, which resulted in two new tracks, including Mimi‘s fourth single, “Don’t Forget About Us,” which became Mariah’s 17th No. 1.

The Emancipation of Mimi would go on to become the biggest album of 2005, selling over 10 million copies worldwide. It would also earn Mariah her first Grammys since 1991 — a triumph and yet a great malfeasance, but I digress. The album is a fan favorite and widely considered to be the greatest comeback in the history of show business.

Picking a favorite track from a classic album can be difficult, but in the case of The Emancipation of Mimi, “Shake It Off” is the clear winner. Join me in celebrating this history-making album.

While social media was dragging the Weeknd for talking reckless, Usher linked up with Lil Jon and Ludacris to give us “SexBeat,” which had been previewed days earlier during Lil Jon’s IG Live battle with T-Pain.

When I learned of this song’s release, I got excited about the opportunity to say that “Usher, Jon and Luda did it again,” but the truth is that they did not. The song sounds like something off a Pretty Ricky album and I mean that in the worst way.

I had hoped they could replicate the magic they had on previous collabos, but the fact of the matter is that all three artists are way past their prime, so there’s a limit to how disappointed one can be.

If this is what Usher is coming with on Confessions 2, he might need to shelve the project.

Cocaine is bad, as is an oversized ego. Mix the two together and you get The Weeknd saying that Usher’s “Climax” was influenced by his sound. Unfortunately, the Weeknd and many of his deluded fans will never appreciate the recklessness of his comments because Diplo, who co-wrote and produced “Climax,” essentially co-signed what he said.

As a token of my rejection of the Weeknd’s tomfoolery, this week’s TBT selection could only be one from Usher’s catalog, which offers dozens of hits. However, I’m opting for an album cut.

Ursh’s third album, 8701, gave us classics like “U Remind Me” and “U Got It Bad,” but it also blessed us hidden gems like “Twork It Out.” Co-written by Usher, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, “Twork It Out” takes us back to a time when major R&B stars needed to know how to sing, and with the Weeknd showing his whole ass and getting away with it, I long for those days more deeply than usual. Click play.

The Weeknd just dropped a new video that appears to pick up from where the last one left off, with the singer still rocking a red jacket and bruised face as he continues his trippy journey. The video begins in a what appears to be a hotel lobby party and ends in a desert.

Much like Abel’s previous clip, this one tries way too hard to not make sense. Some hipster somewhere thinks this video is deep, but it’s not. Check it out below.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great shame that I confess that I enjoy Woah Vicky’s new song, “Big Vick.” The lyrics are predictable as hell and Vicky’s whole schtick feels wholly inauthentic, but the beat slaps just hard enough for you to ignore all those other things — momentarily, at least. Check it below.

Drake just dropped a new song and a Coronavirus-inspired video featuring a solo Drake with his face covered. The “Tootsie Slide” video also comes with a new dance routine to go along with the song’s instructional hook. It also comes with the “Life Is Good” bass line, but that’s neither here nor there.

The real story, however, is Drake’s McMansion, which serves as a reminder that not all quarantines are made equal. Check the video out below.

On what would’ve been his 81st birthday, it would be a crime for our TBT pick to be anything other than a Marvin Gaye song.

A little over a month ago, I referred to TLC’s “Red Light Special” as being possibly the quintessential baby-making song, and while it is up there on the all-time list, Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” might have a stronger case for the title.

Penned by Gaye himself and Ed Townsend, “Let’s Get It On” was the title track from the Marvin Gaye’s thirteenth studio album. The song is pure sex vibes and is a forefather for most of the slow jams ever since.

“Let’s Get It On” was Marvin Gaye’s second No. 1 and sixteenth top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and was the top-selling single of 1973. Almost 50 years later, the song’s legacy is evergreen — we hear it in movies, we hear it in commercials, and we even hear it as an uncredited sample in hit songs.

Happy birthday to one of the greatest to ever do it. Click play.