Is there a “selling out” Verzuz “the culture” in business?
In anticipation of the upcoming 52nd NAACP Image Awards, The Root sat down with Verzuz co-founders (and now NAACP Image Award winners) Swizz Beatz and Timbaland to talk about the event’s recent acquisition by Triller Network.
When anything fully Black-owned goes mainstream, the community has questions and concerns on whether things will change. Will the very thing we loved about Verzuz be diluted now that there are some mainstream (aka white) hands involved?
“One thing you can bet on is me and Tim are always going to be for the culture,” Swizz noted. “We had a lot of time to not do that. We wouldn’t wait this late to not be about the culture, we wouldn’t build something so great for it not to be about the culture.”
“When you see ‘Verzuz sells’, immediately you think ‘sells out’...it’s just natural,” Swizz continued. “But at the end of the day, we took something that was built by the creatives [and] kept all 43 Black creatives with us and gave [them] equity in a billion-dollar-plus company.”
The part about the 43 creators involved in previous Verzuz battles, now making up the group of shareholders in the company may just have an impact on the music industry as a whole, especially with the history of Black artists struggling to maintain ownership of their work.
“It means ownership,” Timbaland added. “Showing them where the future [of the music industry] is going and showing them how to invest [in it]. The fans can soon be a part of buying shares in Verzuz! So, we want to educate.”
Lastly, though we know this may be like picking your favorite child, we had to ask Swizz and Timbaland their favorite Verzuz event so far. They each had different answers—check out the video above to reveal their answers!
Speaking of the culture, here’s a reminder that Verzuz has made such a mark on the culture that The Root even had to dedicate an entire category to it in our Blackest Awards ceremony, also known as “The Skippies.”
As for the next Verzuz event, we’re looking forward to The Isley Brothers vs. Earth, Wind & Fire on April 4!