As we’ve collectively watched Swizz Beats and Timbaland’s producer battle series grow, there’ve been several teaching moments for how not to kill the vibe and energy that attracts everyone to what has become prime quarantine programming. But the thee-day (really three-week), two-part Teddy Riley vs Babyface battle was a whole dissertation on putting too much on something that didn’t need it.
While Swizz and Tim have their own formal rules of engagement for participating, I offered my 7 unsanctioned rules for not fcking the energy up via Billboard.
On March 25th, friends and fellow superproducers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz decided to have a friendly producer battle to entertain fans, and accidentally created an IG Live series — now called Verzuz.
Over the last month, the impromptu battle has taken the form of a brand, adopting a title and logo; establishing rules of play; creating official social accounts for messaging; and, most notably, exponentially increasing viewership. Tim and Swizz’s initial Live peaked at about 22K viewers. Not quite a week later, The-Dream and Sean Garrett hit 46K. From the first full week of the battles, music lovers, journalists, executives and artists have debated possible matchups, their dream battles, hypotheticals in other areas of music (like singers instead of producers); Verzuz has become a supplement both for sports and live in-person entertainment during quarantine.
As a result, numbers continued to roughly double every couple of battles until, on April 12th, 849K people flocked to IG to witness the greatness of DJ Premiere and Rza. Late Monday night Swizz reported that, according to Instagram, 3.7M people tried to access Teddy Riley vs Babyface. That’s more than half the half the average number of global users on Live daily. As Verzuz has progressed, we’ve seen varying levels of success and adeptness to the spirit and format with participating producers. But this past Saturday, the already beleaguered match-up between writer/producer/artists Kenneth “Babyface” Edmunds and Teddy Riley was so rife with issues that it had to be postponed until Monday.