What do you do when the music platform you created with your best friend celebrates its first anniversary? You have a party for it on Clubhouse, the latest mobile social media app! That’s right, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s original idea, Verzuz, started a year ago this week when the pandemic shutdown began. Starting with their epic five hour musical battle, the guys fought with other performers to get viewers to watch their favorite rapper, singer, songwriter or producer swap songs, stories and love for each other on Instagram Live during the past year.
On March 22, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland hosted a three-hour conversation (where over four thousand listeners were present on the walk-in audio chat app), moderated by reporters Naima Cochrane (Billboard) , Starr Rocque (Fast Company), and yours truly. In addition, many of their famous friends (DJ D-Nice and Just Blaze), business partners and Triller executives like co-owner Bobby Sarnevesht stepped in. Clubhouse’s new Media / Creator Manager Fadia Kader, who was instrumental in helping Verzuz, in her former role of Music Partnerships on Instagram when Verzuz first started, explained why the rally was taking place on the CH app, “because let conversations start on Clubhouse organically and authentically. ” Iconic Verzuz attendees joined in the discussion, from Teddy Riley to Sean Garrett, Johnta Austin, Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg, 2 Chainz, E40, to Patti LaBelle addressing upcoming April 4th Gladiators Ron Isley from the Isley Brothers, and Verdine White from Earth, Wind & Fire.
There was a lot of hot talk about how to build Verzuz, Swizz explained how the showdown with Timb went on a whim. They just picked up a few tracks and went to war, “I was on all types of ‘Best of Swizz Beatz’ playlists on Youtube and the like.” Timb wanted all the smoke but explained how it is always done in celebration mode. This led to how other artists got involved and one of the first in the series to songwriter Sean Garrett (who had a very memorable experience and wild slap match with R&B star The-Dream). While training in a park with young children in the back, Garrett spoke in the most sincere voice and really understood why Verzuz has worked since the start of the pandemic. He explained how the music and the jokes calmed us down at a time of deep hurt and confusion about what was going on around us as a society. These words were deep and meaningful.
Highlights of the Global Convo:
- Snoop Dogg argues with comedian Affion Crockett voicing JAY-Z
- DJ Scratch giving D’Angelo’s backstory (most of his original “Friends” line-up bailed him out at the last minute / SHE really surprised him)
- Johnta Austin and Lil Jon both explain their playlist strategy against Ne-Yo and T-pain respectively.
- Sean Garrett sticks to his story of being ‘bucked up’ on pain medication in his match against The-Dream
- Timbo and Swizz exclaiming that the time between the first and the second Babyface / Teddy Riley battle put a battery in their back (“We doubted!”)
- Teddy saying how he and the Verzuz / Clubhouse team could bond and âwe could do a productionâ¦â and Swizz jokingly saying âwait, we know how yourâ¦â
- DJ D Nice showed his respect to the Verzuz family and how much he enjoyed watching all the confrontations
- Just Blaze’s comments about loving the Verzuz platform and the V-Team taking this as confirmation to have a Verzuz battle
- Patti LaBelle listing the menu she will cook for The Isley Brothers vs Earth, Wind & Fire (âFried Chicken, Collard Greens, etc.)
- Ron Isley letting people know he is heading to LA to prepare for the upcoming April 4 game with EWF
- Verdine White making sure to mention that he and his guys have some heat going back to the Isleys
- Swizz revealing that a photo of him and JAY-Z smoking cigars was of their final trade deals finalized on the same day.
As much as there was a lot of talk about actual Verzuz matches, there was also a lot of in-depth information about the inner workings of the platform’s production and deals. They spoke about the importance of ownership and incorporation of the 43 artists who participated to become shareholders of Verzuz’s new distribution house, Triller. Gary Marella of the Timbaland camp, head of Mono Music Group (Beat Club and Verzuz) has dropped some extra gems about the company’s movement and tough decisions. There were also Monique Blake and Courtney Lowery from the planning and publicity department at Verzuz, adding gems, special moments and moments that stressed them endlessly. But it was all for the greater good of the expanding brand and entertainment for the masses.
The crew filed a new leaflet with a few tips for the battles to come after Duke Ghostface’s recent outing against Raekwon. Be on the lookout for this shootout between Redman and Method Man!
True to their word from the Clubhouse speech, the Verzuz team announced today (March 24) another battle that people have been calling for since the brand’s debutâ¦ SWV vs. Xscape. This one is also brought to us in conjunction with Verzuz’s frequent partner in the live events company, Femme It Forward, founded by Heather Lowery. That’s right, the first girls ‘R&B group match is slated for May 8, 2021. So get your vocals ready to sing the hits, “Weak”, “Just Kickin’ It”, “Right Here”, “Understanding”, and so many others. We have great things to look forward to from Verzuz this spring season.