Timbaland and Swizz Beatz recruit biggest names in music for VERZUZ battle series

The battles have become the new go-to form of entertainment amid the global lockdown

Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have started VERZUZ, a series of online battles with some of music’s biggest names as the coronavirus crisis continues.

Kicking off last month (March 25) after the pair issued challenges to one another via a series of Instagram posts, the super producers decided that it would be better to take their beat battle to Instagram Live.

“It’s official,” Timbaland said in a video post. “We doing this for the culture. Me and Swizzy gonna go at it.”


As each producer took turns to play records they created, which included tracks by Jay-Z, Aaliyah, DMX and Missy Elliott, fans, friends and fellow artists logged on to share their thoughts on who they felt won each round.

Watch a pair of recap videos from the first battle between Timbo and and Swizzy below:

After the battle was over, TIDAL shared a playlist compiled of the records played during the battle, which you can listen to here.

Next up, producers Hit-Boy and Boi-1da, who collectively have produced for the likes of Cardi B, Rihanna Jay-Z and Pusha T, squared off against each other on Friday night (March 27).


Aside from playing their commercial hits, the pair treated fans to a plethora of unreleased gems from Drake and Roddy Ricch, Nas, Benny the Butcher, and even a cut from Big Sean and the late Nipsey Hussle – watch a recap of the battle here.

TIDAL shared another playlist, seemingly announcing that they would be doing so after each battle – you can listen to the Hit-Boy vs Boi-1da one here.

Turning the focus from producer to songwriter, The-Dream and Sean Garrett were the next to clash.

“Me & @therealswizz decided to represent the Songwriters,” Timbaland said in a post advertising the battle on Instagram. “Dream vs Sean Garrett Hit for hit tonight live 8pm est this one is going to be crazy!!!!”

After a few false starts, Garrett kicked things off with Donell Jones‘ ‘Better Start Talking’ featuring Jermaine Dupri and The-Dream countered with an unreleased H.E.R. song.

As the night progressed the pair played a range of songs by Drake, Destiny’s Child, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Jay Electronica, Ciara, Justin Bieber, Mario, The Pussycat Dolls, and more.

One of the biggest talking points came when The-Dream played an unheard reference track for Jay-Z’s 2013 single ‘Holy Grail’, which you can listen to as part of the battle’s official TIDAL playlist here.

Watch a recap of the battle below:

The next battle in the series took place on Monday night (March 30) featuring songwriters Ne-Yo and Johnta Austin.

Famous names in attendance included Usher, T.I., Keri Hilson, JoJo, Chris Brown, Jermaine Dupri and Charlamagne Tha God, who watched as the pair of R&B songwriting talents went head to head in a cordial battle, playing everything from Chris Brown’s ‘Yo (Excuse Me Miss)’ and Mario’s ‘Let Me Love You’ to Mariah Carey‘s ‘We Belong Together’ and Tyrese‘s ‘Sweet Lady’ – listen to the TIDAL playlist here.

See a recap of the battle below:


On Wednesday night (April1), Scott Storch, the man behind hits like Dr. Dre‘s ‘Still D.R.E.’, Terror Squad’s ‘Lean Back’ and The Roots‘ ‘You Got Me’, faced off against longtime Cash Money Records producer Mannie Fresh, who has produced a gang of tracks for Lil’ Wayne, Juvenile and 2 Chainz.

Originally billed as Scott Storch versus T-Pain, the ‘I’m Sprung’ hitmaker pulled out earlier tonight stating that the new matchup made more sense.

Posting to Instagram, T-Pain wrote: “Monster Producer up against a beast producer. Makes a lot more sense lol. The ppl spoke up so @timbaland and @therealswizzz are looking for somebody that makes more sense to go up against me. Ngl when they hit me with the @scottstorchofficial call I was ‘n***a that’s weird but let’s go’ but yea. Producer at producer makes more sense for sure.”

The battle between Mannie Fresh and Scott Storch started at 9pm EST, with the former kicking off proceedings with Lil’ Wayne’s ‘Go DJ’. Storch responded with Jay-Z’s ‘The Watcher 2’, featuring Dr. Dre, Rakim and Truth Hurts.

The two battled it out for a little over an hour in front of 202,000 people – a record number of viewers for the battles so far – with Storch eventually being crowned the winner. Swizz Beatz said: “Scott won tonight but so did the culture.”

Mannie Fresh did make things interesting with a selection of original skits that took aim at Storch, some of which poked fun at the hitmakers trademark sunglasses and his former addiction to cocaine.

See a recap from the battle below:

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@therealswizzz verzuz 🚀🚀 @artokoro 🎬

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You can listen to TIDAL’s playlist of songs played during Scott Storch and Mannie Fresh’s battle here.

Last night (April 2) saw pop songwriters Ryan Tedder and Benny Blanco go up against one another. Tedder, the frontman of OneRepublic, has written hits for Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney. Meanwhile, Blanco has penned songs for the likes of Maroon 5, Katy Perry and Halsey.

Ryan Tedder shared the news on Instagram: “THE POP BATTLE!!!!! 6PM PST TONIGHT!!! ON LIVE!!! 20 HITS BACK 2 BACK!!! thank u @therealswizzz @timbaland for setting this up!!! Benny might have a cpl more but mine might be bigger?? We’ll figure it out – the paperwork is finished!!!”

After being switched out of the matchup with Scott Storch, T-Pain ended up taking on Lil Jon on Saturday (April 4). “New paper work just in,” Swizz Beatz announced on Instagram. “@tpain VERZUZ @liljon it’s going to be a real showdown @timbaland VERZUZ !!!!! Who you got winning?”

The battle kicked off at 9pm EST and saw the pair run through an extremely energetic set that garnered the biggest viewership figures in the series so far with over 250,000 people tuned in. Breaking up their battle with fun facts, drinks, jokes and some dancing, they played a gang of their own hits as well as those by Lil Wayne, Petey Pablo, DJ Khaled and Ciara.

Once the pair reached the end of their 20 track set, they decided to give the 250,000 plus people logged on a treat by premiering a never before heard record from each of their personal stashes.

Lil Jon debuted a new song that hears him reunite once again with Usher and Ludacris, following 2004 tracks ‘Yeah!’ and ‘Lovers And Friends’. T-Pain chose to go with a new collaboration with Chris Brown, which he said is called ‘Wake Up Dead’

You can listen to the T-Pain vs. Lil Jon TIDAL playlist here.

Then in what could be dubbed the ‘clash of the titans’, it was announced on Friday morning (April 3) that the king of new jack swing, Teddy Riley, will take on Kenneth ‘Babyface‘ Edmonds on Sunday (April 5).

Sharing the news, Timbaland wrote on Instagram: “Welll this is what me @therealswizzz been working on !!!! You’ll all welcome.”

As writers, producers and performers, Babyface and Teddy Riley are responsible for some of the biggest hits in music history.

From Bobby Brown‘s ‘My Prerogative’ and Wrexx-n-Effect’s ‘Rump Shaker’ to Blackstreet‘s ‘No Diggity’ and Michael Jackson‘s ‘Remember The Time’, Riley has a multitude of hits that span decades.

For Babyface, his hits include Boyz II Men‘s ‘End Of The Road’, Toni Braxton‘s ‘You’re Makin’ Me High’, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s ‘When You Believe’, and even Fall Out Boy‘s ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’.

To watch the battle, log on to the Instagram accounts of either Riley (@teddyriley1) or Babyface (@babyface) on Sunday at 6pm EST (11pm GMT).

Now becoming Instagram Live’s new go-to form of entertainment amid the global lockdown, the battles put fans and artists together in one (virtual) room as they discuss some of their favourite music and the talents behind them.

Meanwhile, the UK is currently adjusting to life behind closed doors after strict lockdown measures for the country were announced last month.

UK citizens must stay at home except to shop for food and medicine, for only one form of exercise per day, and to travel to and from essential workplaces.

It followed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for pubs, restaurants and bars to close.

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