One of the only things getting us through this endless, nationally mandated quarantine is the “Verzuz” battles on Instagram Live. The virtual event, ideated by super producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, features two musicians putting a selection of songs they’ve sung, produced or written against each other in order to see who reigns supreme. Fans, famous names and big brands flood the comment section in real-time during the lyrical slugfest, making it truly interactive.
Tim and Swizz were the first big battle in March, and since then, T-Pain and Lil Jon, Mannie Fresh and Scott Storch, and RZA and DJ Premier are some of the pairs who have squared up in a battle of the bangers.
“A lot of people contact me and Swizz on a lot of things, but right now, we just wanna keep it for the culture, because it’s so organic,” he says via video chat. “We don’t wanna bring that part of the element in right away, we just wanna keep it where people are entertained…we don’t wanna get into all the politics of it…later on as life continues, we can further discuss where we go with it.”
Tim also explains that Verzuz, his collaborative idea with Swizz, was sparked over three years ago. With social distancing lockdowns enacted worldwide, he said this was the perfect opportunity to fire off their plan.
“What is the common thing that brings people together? Music. We didn’t promote it, we just did it,” he continues. While he’s glad that the competition is bringing artists together, he’s not sounding too confident about the prospective battle between Ja Rule and 50 Cent, which Ja is clamoring for.
“It’s a little bit above my pay grade,” Tim says with a laugh.
The next Verzuz battle takes place on Saturday, April 18 at 9 p.m. ET, when R&B songwriters/producers Teddy Riley and Babyface will officially go head-to-head after its earlier postponement due to Babyface and his family being diagnosed with COVID-19.