Timbaland and Swizz Beatz are spilling all their favorite Verzuz moments amid the first season, and dancehall culture is getting another nod.
The first series of Verzuz has come to a close, and its showrunners are reflecting on the reel. Of the modicum of positive moments that came out of 2020, Verzuz makes the top of many people’s lists. The ingenious use of the Instagram platform was certainly one of the highlights of the year, and since its inaugural presentation, the exciting music duel has grown into a full-blown production, with Apple Music now offering high definition replays after episodes end.
Interestingly enough, as Timbo and Swizz reflected on the best Verzuz moments of the year, it was a pre-glamour battle that they recalled most fondly. During a recent interview on The Carlos Watson Show, the legendary producers and Verzuz co-founders were asked about the best moment and best performance. They agreed that the battle that deviated most from the usual theme was actually a favorite of theirs. The Memorial Day weekend battle between dancehall icons Bounty Killer and Beenie Man got a lot of love from Timbaland and Swizz Beatz after it ended, and it is still getting a lot of love now.
The dancehall battle was an iconic moment because it was a turning point for the Verzuz orchestrators who went back to the drawing board after the presentation. Soon they were implementing rules about the wifi quality, equipment, and more, and it incited the idea of in-person battles. The episode garnered millions of views across a number of territories and also produced some viral moments, including Rihanna’s conspicuous attendance. Of course, the Verzuz battleground was inspired by the clash culture in dancehall music, so it was also quite fitting that a dancehall battle enter the list of over 20 showdowns.
Swizz Beatz actually acknowledged this and more in a lengthy post celebrating the success of Verzuz on Instagram. “Can’t mention VERZUZ without Bounty Killer and Beenie Man,” he wrote. “The FIRST to do a Verzuz in the same room, get visited by the police, have the Prime Minister of Jamaica watch, AND have perfect WIFI (IYKYK). VERZUZ was influenced by sound clashes – Thank you Beenie, Bounty, and everyone who made it happen.”
The Verzuz co-creators also credited Gucci Mane and Jeezy’s joint performance of “So Icy” as the best moment from the series.“People showed up for them to go into destruction and they gave them destruction during the Verzuz,” Timbaland said. “But [in] the end, the brothers gave everybody love. This one was special because we were dealing with real issues that a lot of people don’t get to talk about.
“It’s showing going forward, you know, like unity. Our platform shows a lot of unity and love that’s what we are,” he added. Verzuz became an escape for many of us whose year was marred with adversity but moreover, it brought people together. The strategic round-ups helped rivals to settle differences, icons to deliver nostalgic treats, and hip-hop and soul music overall to remain evermore relevant.
As they look on to Season 2, the Verzuz showrunners are hoping to get even deeper with soul music. When asked who he would like to see appear when the show returns, Timbo mentioned Grammy Award-winning R&B singers Sade and Anita Baker. “I don’t have a wishlist because we don’t force nothing on Verzuz,” Timbaland began. “Everything comes to us. I want to show the world about love, slow-songs, that feel-good music that touch your soul. I was thinking about Anita Baker, and I was like ‘man, we have to give Anita her flowers.’
“To tell this woman how much her music has done for me, and I feel like we can’t leave the world without Anita Baker or celebrating Sade,” he added. The future of Verzuz looks to be right in the pocket of what we all need right now – to “feel good” and nourish our souls. Taking into account the considerable growth of the platform over 8 months, it is quite likely that it will only continue to flourish in Season 2.