Have you ever experienced something and you just knew you became an elevated version of yourself after said experience? That was Easter Sunday 2021 for all of Black Twitter and beyond, due to the epic event that was The Isley Brothers Verzuz Earth Wind & Fire. Ronald Isley, Ernie Isley, Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson all took the time to provide us with elite quality entertainment—and in return, hopefully felt the love and adoration from us on social media. Rest in power, Maurice White.
There is no way to fully encapsulate that night, but I will try my best to create a recap that accurately captures the feelings of those of you who were there to witness it. As for those who weren’t there? I’m so sorry, but I will try to make it so you felt as if you were there. Let’s go!
‘Hello It’s Me,’ Steve Harvey, the Host and Storyteller
Ever since we found out Steve Harvey would be the MC of the night (D-Nice served as the night’s DJ!), it was expected that he would have a blast...unapologetically. “Man, I’ve been wanting to be y’all all my life,” Steve told the men.
There is “the most,” and there is “the most with Steve Harvey.” This man proceeded to tell more personal stories than the very artists we typically expect to hear stories from during the Verzuz events. Steve is definitely the uncle who tells you a story you’ve heard before, but despite your efforts to interrupt and tell him hat you’ve heard it before, he continues to tell the story with aplomb as if you didn’t say shit.
...and that was after spending 50-11 minutes explaining, in thorough detail, just how this music was grown folks’ music.
During the second half, Steve apparently became aware of Twitter’s commentary about his commentary and, naturally, he proceeded to cuss us all out.
Yes, the funk hit the fan, y’all! He then began to sulk in silence before the artists threw him a bone and invited him to perform with them, reminiscent of “The Hightops” from The Steve Harvey Show (which of course, he referenced—duh!).
But since we’re telling stories, I might as well bring my own Steve Harvey energy and tell you a fun high school fact of my own, since the song was on a playlist: “Drifting on a Memory” was my senior graduating class theme. Yes, we played the song that lyric sprang from, “For the Love of You,” at prom—Morgan Park High School, Class of 2002!
We’re Dealing With Next-Level Music Catalogs Here, so ‘Let’s Groove’
Steve rattled off statistics, including the number of albums, but what stood out was the fact that each group had way less Grammys than one would imagine they’d won (or deserve). Per Grammy.com, Earth Wind & Fire has six wins and 17 nominations while The Isley Brothers have one win and four nominations. Each group has a Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Recording Academy’s Hall of Fame.
I mean we all know why (*coughhistoricallywhitesupremacistsystemcough*), but whyyyy?! It is especially appalling when you’re bopping along to each song in the Verzuz playlist and realize that several times during the night you pause, like, “Wait, they did that song, too?!” Ca-ta-logs, honey! A legacy!
Plus, when Ernie said, “We were always trying to deliberately compliment women with our love songs,” after they played “(At Your Best) You Are Love” I sighed wistfully while typing on the same social media platform where nitwits comment under women’s selfies and rate them a “six” (unprovoked!) just to impress their homeboys.
“My wife told me not to cuss, but… shit!!!” Steve exclaimed after Earth Wind & Fire performed “Shining Star,” and I believe that phrase fully expressed how we all felt.
The Men Were Suited and Booted, So Everyone Else Has ‘Work to Do’
If you’re not entering the scene dressed like these men, what are you even doing with your life? In fact, since we’ve all been locked up during a panny, it’s our duty to show up and show out when we have our first real post-pandemic event.
Ron showed up in a fur—plus, he and Ernie changed outfits during “halftime”—and Verdine’s press was so laid (even after sweating!), I’m wondering why there isn’t a Verdine-press to give the silk press some competition. Of course, as many folks mentioned, Steve showed up in his best Darkwing Duck couture.
Let’s Talk About That Beard ‘On Your Face,” Mr. Ron Isley
There was a third member of The Isley Brothers present that night and it was that well-groomed beard on Ron Isley’s face. I have to admit, when I saw that bearded man sitting there next to Ernie, I thought it was an imposter. I thought someone had superimposed a Beard App beard on my elder! When he began talking, I was still squinting in disbelief. It wasn’t until he took off his hat that I was fully convinced. Here’s a reminder that Mr. Ron Isley will be turning a whole 80 years old this May. Hallelu!
Toward the end, Steve announced that between Instagram and Triller, 78 billion people were watching—despite there only being roughly 8 billion people in the world. He noted that folks from space and roaches were watching. Somehow, I fully believe him. Oh, and the thing ran a little over four hours—causing Instagram Live to shut off, since that’s apparently the broadcast limit these days.
Verzuz really is a gift that keeps on giving, especially since it inspires further entertainment, such as D-Nice’s afterparty and a whole-ass comedy show from Godfrey, Affion Crockett and Spice Adams.
What a stunning night. I will admit, I was hoping that it would go full-on ridiculous and Steve would join Ron to perform the climax of Contagious, with Steve taking the part of Chanté Moore. Y’all know the one. Hint: It happens “between the sheets, in my home.” Even without that goofy unfulfilled wish, it was still a perfect time. Oh, and Tyrese was still Tyrese, which creates balance in the universe.
As always, Tidal has provided a playlist from the night:
Fam, what was your favorite moment of the night? Is it even possible to choose?