All the Verzuz Instagram Live Battles & Winners


Let’s declare some winners.
Photo-Illustration: Vulture and YouTube

Throughout quarantine, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s Verzuz beat battle series has grown from a novel event bridging hip-hop’s past and present into uplifting excitement in our indoor spring, joining DJ sessions by D-Nice, Questlove, and others as well as Ontario artist Tory Lanez’s unpredictable Quarantine Radio series as the must-see remote-but-live viewing for rap and R&B fans while live shows and festivals are sidelined by COVID-19. Verzuz reimagines the DJ battles of hip-hop’s early days for the “one gotta go” set. The premise is simple: Two prominent producers (or singers or songwriters) pair up live on Instagram and compete to decide who has the better catalog. The rules came together on the fly through trial and error. As it stands, each battle goes 20 rounds, with each contestant playing a hit and hearing a rebuttal.

Verzuz is fun, simple, and wide open — maybe a little too wide open. The audience is mostly in charge of the scoring, and there’s rarely a consensus on points. Regional bias and generational schisms creep up. Playing a deep cut almost categorically loses you the point, even if it’s one of the greatest songs of all time. There’s nothing wrong with a slugfest, but it’s draining hearing people trash timeless classics. You can be a legend with decades of hits and lose the crowd trailing too far away from radio. You can be a veteran who changed the game forever and get smoked in the court of public opinion because someone else’s music is fresher in everyone’s shared memory. You can score points with records mostly made by someone else. If you’ve cultivated a relationship with an A-list artist, you’re almost guaranteed the win.





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