12 Verzuz battles that ought to happen would turn the music world upside down for fans of urban music. We’ve seen some amazing battles by living legends such as Chaka Khan Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, and Stephanie Mills. We’ve also seen some battles by artists that had the biggest beefs in urban music including Brandy & Monica and Young Jeezy & Gucci Mane. The battles have included just about every category in urban music including R&B, Hip Hop, Gospel, and Reggae. We’ve seen producer vs producer, singer vs singer, and songwriter vs songwriter.
Verzuz is a music battle series created by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland telecast online on Instagram Live. It was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Swizz and Timbaland were the first to battle as DJs. It was such a success that they started inviting other artists and became a brand and must-see live entertainment. It started out with 2 artists streaming live on Instagram at the same time as each artist played their songs and chatted a bit about the song in between rounds. Each week brought special surprises from the artists including live performances online. Even though the artists battle, no real winner is ever chosen. Swizz Beatz said during an interview “The people won, the culture won, music won” in reference to the music sales and online streams gradually increasing due to both newfound interest and curiosity.
It progressed into the ultimate music battle for urban artists and included some of the most legendary moments for fans and artists alike. The battles started around 10 rounds each and 2 hours long until recently when artists would battle 20 rounds and last over 4 hours. You can’t ask for anything better than seeing your favorite artists perform live for over 4 hours for free!
12 Verzuz Battles
1- Mariah Carey Verzuz Mary J Blige or Toni Braxton
Has Toni battled yet? She has a ton of hits but mostly ballads. Mariah Carey would also be able to go against Mary J Blige.
2 – OutKast vs A Tribe Called Quest
Outkast is a staple of the south, particularly Atlanta when it comes to hip hop. A Tribe Called Quest has a catalog of hits and is one of the top groups when it comes to NY rap. Both groups birthed subsets of various rap groups that contributed to hip hop as a whole as well. Also, both groups saw each members have solo success.
3 – Tony, Toni, Tone vs Mint Condition
Bands made a return in the 90s and these two have loads of hits from that era. They have uptempo hits and beautiful memorable ballads that are family-friendly and very soulful.
4 – Missy Elliott Verzuz Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah may have a longer tenure but Missy racked up a bunch of hits in a short period of time. They both share contributions in supergroups as well as producing hits for other rap artists.
5 – Destiny’s Child Verzuz TLC
All-female groups for different generations that had big social and cultural impacts.
6 – Beyoncé Verzuz Usher
When you think of today’s R&B, these two stand out as the reigning female and male leaders in the industry. They both continue to make music currently and have been in the industry for decades.
7 – Anita Baker Verzuz Sade
Smooth and smooth, yet different in their sounds. Anita was more bluesy and gospel while Sade was more neo-soul. They both reigned in the 80s and 90s and pretty much just tour nowadays but took a niche of R&B and made significant impacts.
8 – Jodeci Verzuz Dru Hill or Boyz ll Men
These 3 groups were some of the most popular groups of the 90s. All of them sing well and had huge hits. Boyz II Men is probably the most family-friendly group out of the 3. Jodeci pushed the raunchy envelope and Dru Hill is probably somewhere in between. But great vocals all around.
9 – Smokey Robinson Verzuz Lionel Richie or Stevie Wonder
All male talent stemming from Motown. Some of the best producers/songwriters/singers coming out of the Motown machine hailing from the 60s until the 90s. They have extensive solo catalogs and production catalogs for work done on others’ projects. They all have had mainstream success in addition to their urban success. Smokey and Lionel even have hit catalogs as members of their groups. No one on Motown is as prolific as these 3 gentlemen.
10 – 50 Cent Verzuz Future
50 Cent came out of the gate with hit records and even established his group as a brand, stemming a clothing line and record label. Future came out of the gate in a whirlwind as well and worked hard and put out tons of mixtapes and albums to gain notoriety and fame in the early 2000s.
11 – Lil Wayne Verzuz Drake or T.I. or Kanye West
These 3 rappers are some of the best rappers of their time. They’ve all had albums that garnered mainstream success and consistently sat at the top of the charts. They have all worked with every top rapper or singer you can name. Lil Wayne hasn’t released any material in a while and T.I. hasn’t had any new material lately, but Drake continues to soar. Drake’s releases are epic these days as fans countdown to the very second his albums are available. Kanye has done so much musically to create his own unique imprint when it comes to music, when he does do music. Any combination of 2 of these artists would be astronomical in terms of catalog and performance.
12 – Jay-Z Verzuz Nas
Good luck getting Jay-Z to participate. He doesn’t feel like any rapper measures up to his success and he’s not wrong. Every rapper alive you can think of that is great is still a tier or two below him. Nas is mentioned because of their legendary beef and lyricism. Brooklyn’s finest literally personified.
Honorable Mention: Death Row Verzuz Bad Boy, Lil Kim Verzuz Foxy Brown
The biggest rap labels of the 90s, ultimate East Coast vs West Coast head-to-head. And, the biggest female rap beef of the 90s battle for Queen of NY.
*Red vs Meth – Aired April 20, 2021