During the Quarantine, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland created an Instagram Live series that cemented itself in the R&B and Hip-Hop communities with record-breaking numbers. The two of them were able to take their friendly rivalry and make “Verzuz Battles” that brought back the live rap battles that birthed modern rap by having Black Legacy artists going head to head for the world to see. The audience was able to get the story behind the songs and a live show of the artists’ best hits. Verzuz was able to educate and entertain everyone about Black music in a time we needed it most. Black music has always served as a unifying force, and it’s also been used to galvanize people into political action. As we all struggled through a global pandemic and the countless protests for justice for our people, Swizz Beats and Timbaland made this for us, by us. As a community we were going through a lot; we needed something to make us happy. Even when social media became a burden to some of us, Verzuz Battles were more than just a distraction; it was a celebration of our artists and their timeless music. It was even able to bridge a gap between the children of hip-hop and lovers of its soulful foundations.
Some of the earlier Verzuz battles featured producers, artists, and songwriters such as Ne-Yo vs. Johntá Austin and Brandy vs. Monica, as well as R&B connoisseurs Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott, and dancehall legends Beenie Man vs. Bounty Killer. The battles have been extremely beneficial for the artists too as they’ve brought in millions of new fans and gained streams across all platforms. Once Verzuz became more popular and gained more traction, Diddy’s Ciroc became the “go-to” drink for the night and the music streaming platforms started to create playlists for the audiences after each battle. Verzuz is not only the pandemics’ biggest viral hit: it has created another milestone in Black music history.