Verzuz has rapidly become a favorite weekend diversion in Quarantine-Land, as music fans tune in for a social distancing walk down memory lane with some of hip-hop and R&B’s iconic artists, producers, and songwriters. Swizz Beats’ classic hits showcase announced its next big-name guests today, focusing on two of the pioneers of the neo-soul subgenre of the late ’90s and early 2000s: Erykah Badu and Jill Scott. The
Next weekend’s big event is co-sponsored by entertainment promotions company Femme It Forward, which presents woman-centric concerts, festivals, panels, and tours whenever we aren’t all stuck in the house. Since the coronavirus hit, Femme It Forward was relatively unoccupied with all its events pushed back to the end of summer, but was able to come together with Swizz, Timbaland, and Verzuz to help bring Erykah Badu and Jill Scott’s “battle” to live.
Fans had previously clamored for Erykah Badu to face off with Lauryn Hill, an unofficial member of the neo-soul movement, but Badu shut down the speculation, tweeting that she believed she’d get “pulverized” by the first woman in hip-hop to score a No. 1 album and single on the Billboard charts. It took twenty years for her record to be broken, which Cardi B did in 2018 with “Bodak Yellow.”
However, if fans couldn’t see Lauryn Hill play her favorite hits on Instagram Live (which, let’s face it, was probably never going to happen anyway, considering Ms. Hill’s general antagonistic disposition toward clocks and technology), Jill Scott is a worthwhile replacement. Debuting in 2000 with Who Is Jill Scott? Words And Sounds Vol. 1, Scott turned R&B on its head with singles like “Gettin’ In the Way,” “The Way,” and her biggest hit, “A Long Walk,” becoming a mainstay on R&B radio in the two decades since. Interestingly enough, she also performed on the original chorus of The Roots’ Grammy-winning 1999 single “You Got Me” before being replaced by none other than Erykah Badu.
Badu similarly shook up the sound of R&B music in the ’90s with her own debut, Baduizm, becoming a symbol of soulfulness that many artists still imitate with songs like “On & On,” “Tyrone,” “Bag Lady,” and “Love Of My Life” featuring Common. In the process she also became one of music’s favorite long-running memes, with fans joking about her mystical properties affecting her paramours’ sense of style — so much so, that she even got in on the joke by selling incense made of her um… underwear.
Watch these two soul queens face off on Instagram Live on May 8 at 7pm EST / 4pm PST.