With COVID-19 quickly spreading around the world, careful people have been taking preventative measures to ensure they themselves don’t get the virus. Artists who typically spend most of their days on the road are held hostage unless scouting for food and other essential household goods, and the time usually spent performing their hits is being used to communicate to their fans via social media.
While Boosie Badazz and Tory Lanez keep themselves and their followers entertained via twerk contests, vocalists JoJo and H.E.R. occasionally give at home concerts to their supporters. The world’s favorite DJ, D-Nice, lifts spirits up with hours-long sets, pushing fellow DJs to go live on Instagram to spread good energy and remind everyone who the heart of the party really is.
Amid the public display of creativity, producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland have finally executed a battle series that was underway for years now.
Nearly two years ago, in February 2017, the Harvard alum went head to head with hit maker Just Blaze, to showcase their heavy hitters throughout the years. The battle prompted tweets and social media comments from artists who put together their desired battles. Swizz Beatz and Timbaland were estimated to be a good match-up.
With schedules freed and more leisure time, the masterminds, who had previously battled in front of fans on a Summer Jam stage, went in the ring again on March 24, this time in an epic Instagram Live battle. The warm reception from viewers and artists alike, showed an interest in the content, sparking the launch of Verzuz, their recently developed battle series where carefully selected artists go back and forth playing 20 of their greatest hits in front of voting viewers.
Since then, beat makers Hitboy and Boi-1da went head to head, Sean Garrett lost to The Dream and Johnta Austin and Ne-Yo put on for R&B in a classy and organized battle. Mannie Fresh replaced T-Pain in a fight against super producer Scott Storch, investing more into his skits than order of his playlist, and T-Pain went on to battle Lil Jon in what turned out to be more of a party, fitting for the Saturday night on which it was scheduled. Even pop producers Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco stepped into the battle ring to brag about their record-breaking hits.
On Sunday, fans will get in their feelings with a contest between Babyface and Teddy Riley, but the beauty of the series goes beyond entertaining fans who are practicing social distancing. It’s a look into the power music has to bring people together, a spotlight on the talent behind the artists, and some free knowledge to the masses.
The battle between Mannie and Scott brought in 240K viewers, beating D-Nice’s monumental set. Though Michelle Obama might have been absent, everyday people were able to comment and react alongside the likes of Jadakiss, 50 Cent, and Lil Kim. Sans egos, brand name clothes, and security, every one relived the days when they first heard the songs being played.
In the Verzuz battles, however, the music is being presented not by the artist, but by the producers and songwriters who worked behind the scenes to bring the song to life, most times before the vocals are even laid on a track. Their contributions to the culture are being highlighted as we all get a musical history lesson.
While fans may have been more familiar with Timbaland and Ne-Yo’s discography, many marveled as they learned the hits Scott and John took a part in creating. The legends known for years of hits, are not only working tirelessly to this day, but are being introduced to a whole new generation and getting praise from longtime fans for their work and longevity in this ever-changing music industry.