The already impressive audience for the Verzuz battle series — which pits one OG artist or producer against another, playing their hits — is about to get even bigger: Verzuz is coming to Apple Music and Beats 1. The first session will take place Wednesday (July 22) at 5 p.m. PT for a face-off between veteran MCs Snoop Dog and DMX.
The series, founded by hitmakers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland (pictured above), was born on Instagram Live and will continue to be simulcast live there, as well as on Apple Music. After the live battle is over, fans will be able to watch it on-demand on Apple Music as well.
The series first launched in March and has become an online phenomenon during the coronavirus pandemic. Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu, John Legend and DJ Nice are just a few of the artists who have faced off in (mostly) friendly competition, garnering views of up to 414,000 per IG Live event. The entire series sprung from an idea Swizz and Timbaland had been tossing around for some time, but finally decided to launch after the pandemic took hold earlier this year.
In mid-March, Tim called out Swizz on Instagram with what Swizz perceived as the cue for a battle.
“I loaded up my beat machine and called him out too,” Swizz told Variety earlier this year. “We went live, playing our best. The audience went wild in real-time, talking to us, responding to the tracks. Two hours after Tim called me out, Verzuz pretty much started.”
Such is the success of the show, that after appearing on Verzuz, artists have seen streaming figures grow by up to 300%.
Apple Music will also be working alongside Beatz and Timbaland to produce new episodes of Verzuz. But the possibilities are endless. “DMX wants to battle Jay-Z, but he’s going to sound better against Eminem,” Swizz said. “People want Usher and Chris Brown, but, that’s a big brother/little brother thing: What I’d like to see is Usher going up against Justin Timberlake, and Chris Brown vs. Justin Bieber. That makes sense to me.”
Timbaland seconds, “The dynamics of sound and personality have to be there: Sometimes they’re similar, sometimes they’re in opposition. You want something that works sonically and is entertaining.”