Verzuz — the popular DJ battle where artists like Snoop Dogg and DMX square off and showcase their hits in friendly competition while fans cheer on via social media — has upped its game via an intergration with Apple Music and Twitter, which not only lifts the series’ already high profile, it elevates the production quality and engagement.
One of the quantifiable entertainment successes of the lockdown, the series — which pits one veteran hip-hop or R&B artist or producer against another — has drawn nearly half a million viewers per installment and many thousands of comments. The appeal for fans? Dissecting tunes they know intimately, recalling their time of discovery or simply rooting for the hotter track in real time.
Launched in March by veteran producers Swizz Beatz (who has worked with artists including Jay-Z, DMX and his own wife, Alicia Keys) and Timbaland (Justin Timberlake, Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Aaliyah), the series has rapidly grown into a franchise matching the likes of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds against Teddy Riley and Erykah Badu versus Jill Scott. While the concept had been percolating for a couple years and Swizz and Timbaland had squared off at festivals in the past, the pair — inspired by the popularity and good vibes of D-Nice’s DJ sets from home early in the pandemic — saw that Verzuz could ease the loneliness of isolation with its combination of sports-like competition, classic hits, nostalgia and social media conversation.