Five VERZUZ Battles We Deserve to See

It’s been more than a year since iconic producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz came up with the idea of pairing giants of the music industry against one another in battles they labeled Verzuz. It was a brilliant idea that has given us top tier entertainment, both during the lockdown portion of the pandemic and since. There are so many of those productions that have stayed with us, and caused us to “keep score” to see who was putting their best tracks forward. And while there are too many to name here, just a few that had me at hello were Dipset vs. LOX, Brandy vs. Monica, Patti LaBelle vs. Gladys Knight, Jill Scott vs. Erykah Badu, T-Pain vs. Lil Jon, Method Man vs. Redman, Keith Sweat vs. Bobby Brown, and Xscape vs. SWV. OK, that was a longer list than I thought I’d be making, but it just confirms that the past year has been filled with great music and that Black folks will continue to make a way (in this case an epic one) 0ut of no way.

This week we’ll be treated to another classic evening when Chaka Khan and Stephanie Mills take their turn on the Verzuz stage in Los Angeles. All of it made me envision a few “battles” we deserve to see, even if there’s no way or reason for them to happen. Ready? Let’s go.

Deborah Cox Vs. Tamia

This feels like a no-brainer, especially since we’ve seen these two team up before for a breathtaking rendition of the track “Count on Me” with Shep Crawford. That duet let us know that their voices are compatible, and it’s safe to assume that their catalogues are as well. Lastly, it’ll place a spotlight on a incredible province of Toronto, Ontario, and that alone is worth making it happen. Book it.

Shawn Stockman Vs. Leslie Odom Jr.

I thought about this one last night after recalling that Shawn Stockman did indeed have a solo career during his years with megagroup Boyz II Men. Which makes sense since his is the best voice in the group. He deserves every one of his moments in the spotlight. And speaking of amazing voices, there’s the smooth stylings of the artist known as Leslie Odom, Jr., whose discography isn’t as deep as his talent, but that’s fine. He’s quickly becoming your favorite artist’s favorite artist. Pairing these two in a Verzuz would give us premium entertainment and put both of these talented men in front of eyes that might not have seen them work their solo magic.

Anita Baker Vs. Lalah Hathaway

I know, I know… this won’t happen. But still… it would be absolutely mind-blowing to see Lalah Hathaway grace the stage with one of her biggest influences, and to see Anita Baker given the reverence she’s so richly earned over a legendary career. Also, if we’re being honest, more people need to see and hear Lalah. I, and she, is tired of being the music industry’s best kept secret and Grammys aside, a platform like Verzuz would give her the platform necessary to gain new fans and showcase her amazing instrument. Goodness.

Missy Elliott Vs. Busta Rhymes

This potential matchup has been bandied about for most of the past year, and for good reason. These two artists dominated the golden era of music, with Elliott and her outside-of-the-box productions changing the game, so much so that she was just awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. And then there’s the outsized rhymes and personality of the legendary and appropriately named Busta Rhymes, who commands every stage on which he appears and has earned every accolade that has come his way. These two should match up just for the spectacle alone. Talk about Black excellence. Come on!

Mary J. Blige Vs. Toni Braxton

This one probably doesn’t even make sense, with Mary’s massive discography seemingly overshadowing the work Toni has put in over the years. But listen, that’s what makes these Verzuz battles so great. Folks said the same thing about Xscape, who didn’t have as many hits as SWV but more than held their own while on stage. Dipset was the overwhelming New York favorite going into their face-to-face with The LOX, and were thoroughly outworked by the Yonkers trio when the lights came on. And let’s not even talk about how Ja Rule made the most out of his battle with Fat Joe, reminding everyone within earshot why he was the GOAT during his era. So sure, Mary’s music would seem to bury Toni’s tracks, but that’s the thing… you never know. And we deserve to see whatever happens. It would definitely break the internet. And remind us how great Verzuz really is.

Which VERZUZ matchups would you like to see in the future? Leave your comments and let me know.

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