The Verzuz series — in which two R&B/hip-hop artists engage in a virtual DJ battle on Instagram Live while thousands of fans watch and weigh in on social media — is one of the few silver linings of the pandemic lockdown. And while the series, which began with founders Swizz Beatz and Timbaland, has proved enormously popular — last Saturday’s battle between Ludacris and Nelly netted some 450,000 viewers — the founders had planned on taking Memorial Day weekend off… but their fellow artists and audience had other ideas.
“I was going to take Saturday off,” Swizz tells Variety. “But I’m getting a lot of pushback from the artists and the audience to keep it going, especially since it’s a long holiday weekend and everyone is stuck indoors. So I said, ‘I’d better tell Tim we’re going to work this weekend.”
And they’ve literally doubled down, with two battles taking place this weekend: Saturday will see their first non-R&B/hip-hop match — with Jamaican reggae artists Beenie Man and Bounty Killer — and on Monday, the first group Verzuz, with R&B groups Jagged Edge taking on Bad Boy favorites 112.
“We wanted to switch it up and add some Caribbean style with Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, and also give everyone a treat with another celebration with Jagged Edge and 112 as that was in popular demand – all for Memorial Day Weekend,” Swizz tells Variety.
The latter battle finds the series keeping to its ‘90s-‘00s roots (if one can say that about a series that is several weeks old), as it has seen matchups between ‘90s titans Babyface and Teddy Riley and soul legends Erykah Badu and Jill Scott as well as the above.