Instagram Verzuz battles have been a constant relief while the world is in a state of uncertainty. As people run through their “must watch” suggestions on streaming services and TikTok themselves through boredom, the live streams provide a sense of excitement, a feeling of anticipation and something to look forward to to keep us all sane.
Over the weekend, queens Jill Scott and Erykah Badu were the contenders. When Verzuz creators Swizz Beatz and Timbaland made the announcement on May 1st, social media users and neo-soul lovers predicted the night would be a great vibe. Unbeknownst to the world, it would be perfectly scheduled to give us some healing, laughter and motivation just hours after the music world was shaken from the loss of record executive and founder of Uptown Records, Andre Harrell (for whom she dedicated her song “Cross My Mind”) and rock and roll icon Little Richard.
Ahead of the battle — which turned out to be more of a celebration — it was evident the spirit they’d bring in their Instagram accounts alone. All throughout the week, Scott expressed her excitement with posts on her page and hours before the event, Badu’s promo post included a caption that read, “This Love Fest is Goin Down TONIGHT!! I can’t wait to CELEBRATE THE BEAUTY THAT IS @missjillscott.”
The soul singers brought and exchanged the same energy to the festivities as they showered each other with compliments, showing the world that they are not only fans of each other but collaborators and actual friends.
“I don’t think people know how much we talk on the phone and work out our things and talk through these relationships and these children and childbirth and all these kinds of stuff,” the “Window Seat” singer said. “People should know that we friends. They don’t know that.”
The Philadelphia native chimed in in agreement, “they pitted us against each other for a long time, a very long time. From the beginning it’s been some kind of stink in the air that didn’t belong to either of us so I’m glad to squash for all you. There’s room in the inn,” she continued, moments before she and Badu thanked women artists like Gladys Knight and Minnie Riperton for not only influencing their art, but welcoming them into the “inn” when they were just emerging artists.
Amid the sporadic bouts of gratitude, they thanked the collaborators that contributed to their discography and the Verzuz team for being the masterminds behind the “dope” concept of the music battles. Scott made known her appreciation for Badu who sang The Roots’ hit single “You Got Me,” the first song she ever wrote. Badu, in turn, praised her artistry and compared her to Canadian singer and songwriter Joni Mitchell, admiring her ability to sing with passion and intention.
As the women shared stories behind certain songs and recalled memories of being headliners on the Sugar Water Festival tour alongside Queen Latifah, the mood was love. If the words weren’t enough to express that sentiment, when Badu lost her internet connection shortly after introducing her song “Tyrone,” Scott played it for her, continuing on the battle until she returned.
The songbirds blessed the 700+ viewers with their infectious energy, but not without sharing words of wisdom.
To the musicians: “Live musicianship. S/o to all the musicians. Everybody is not working right now..everybody just looking around in circles like what are we going to do..all we can do is create. Just keep creating…keep creating. This time is sure to pass and we have something that is beautiful and the world needs. Hold tight..breathe easy.” – J.S.
To the writers: “It’s a lot of real writers that are watching this tonight that are holding on to a lot of amazing work, thoughtful work, work that would change lives because they don’t know how people will accept it or receive it and it doesn’t matter. “You have to get it out. You’re just holding on to something that at this point. It doesn’t even belong to you anymore. Once it’s on paper, once you put it down, you have to release it to the world. It’s mandatory.” – J.S.
To the Hopeless Romantics:
“What’s the point of wasting all that good stuff. Just try to be smart about it, about who you’re spending and giving your time to, who you’re giving that good loving to. Do the best you can to be smart about who you’re spending that good stuff on.” – J.S.
“As you grow you attract who you are, you attract the frequency of who you are.” – E.B.
While the women loved on each other, Badu’s mother stated “This is how women are supposed to behave,” but on a grander scale, their exemplary conduct was an example for how all people should treat each other, but a reminder that it doesn’t cost to be kind. The Jill Scott vs Erykah Badu Verzuz battle also demonstrated the healing power of music, the nurturing qualities of women and the strength in vulnerability. Quite frankly, it couldn’t have been at a better time.