Whether for good or bad, Verzuz pulled down some incredible numbers this week as Ray J, Bobby V, Sammie, Pleasure P, Omarion and Mario took the stage to display their talents and celebrate their respective catalogs for the entire world to see; And gave us by far the most entertaining moment of Black Music Month and the year that is 2022. Many people are outraged by the overall performances of most of these gentlemen. Many people have deemed Verzuz “dead” and don’t think it should continue based on what took place this past Thursday. My personal view is, anytime black people can come together to celebrate black music and nobody goes to jail or dies, we should do that. I was highly entertained for all the right and wrong reasons and it didn’t make me love or respect any artist less than I already did. However, what I do want to focus on tonight is, What is VERZUZ really telling us?, with many of these live performances that have taken place since we collectively have been “back outside”.
I feel like Bow Wow VERZUZ Soulja Boy showed us the difference between true artist development and grooming a young star versus a young person getting themself on via the power of the internet. Whether it’s truly a good or bad thing, is for you to decide.
Gucci VERZUZ Jeezy was the great debate of what’s going to hold more weight later? Your street approved mixtape or you crafted classic album? Music Business respects money and numbers, but people actually thought Jeezy got cleaned up on this and although I completely disagree, I’m not going to argue. Cause technically Hip-Hop is the streets and Chart topping albums are the music business. Can’t run a site like this and go against hip-hop’s core values.
The LOX VERZUZ Dipset I think answered 2 things. 1, What is a hit record? Then, 2, Is a hit really a hit if you can’t perform it like a hit? This is the one battle that one side probably won on paper, but lost terribly on performance. This is the VERZUZ that caused the shift. All of a sudden playing your records didn’t mean nearly as much as how you presented the record to an audience. Jada, Styles and Sheek set a really high performance bar that is not easy to match. I must say right here today, that only Mario has come close.
Have we truly valued Mario? What kind of industry politics is or was holding him back? I ask that question because myself and an obvious majority didn’t have him winning VERZUZ against Omarion. Not only did he win, he proved that he was far and away the best complete performer of the entire night. Bobby V had the presence and catalog. Pleasure P had the voice and Mario came out as a hybrid of both of them and really showed Omarion, his brother, his dancers, his watermelon, Jeremih and his outfits up. It literally made me questioned the industry in so many ways.
Have we been blinded by budgets, good looks and studio magic? Do our artist truly care about their craft now that they’re UP financially? Has all the “lifestyle” promoted in music caused an unfortunate decline in some of our most successful vocal talents? These are the things I worry about as we are firmly in an era where the artist of today are one upload away from a career and more than likely, their focus is money by any means. Everybody we saw on stage had to work to get noticed by a label and then get a deal. We just watched some legacy acts not shine in the primary skill we were supposed to buy into. That’s alarming considering these are the new OG’s of the music industry.
I don’t want Verzuz to be the home of where most of our beloved artist fall off. There’s been a couple matchups that have confirmed that I will never buy a ticket to a show or I need to see a set list so I can hit concessions or the exit immediately. That’s not a good look just for legacy alone. It’s also becoming more clear that antics are overshadowing the music. Bone VERZUZ Three 6 Mafia was perfect until a water bottle got thrown after an SMD was dropped. After that, the songs just hit different. As a genuine fan of both groups that hurt and I went bopping my head with the Volume up at an ignorant level to hoping they can get through the rest of the show with no issue. That sucks.
I also think that VERZUZ needs to go back to educating it’s target demo. When it was songwriters and Producers the vibe was different. The energy and respect was realer minus Sean Garrett VERZUZ The Dream and we really got schooled on who is doing what in the game and the stories behind it. We haven’t really gotten that as much since we been outside. Verzuz is also corporate now. It’s been mad sponsors, buy-ins and even Pay Per Views. It’s not the same moment that held us down during the pandemic. It’s now a multimillion dollar idea. Can’t be mad at it but just goes to show that money doesn’t make everything better.
Overall, We love a good “train wreck” here in America. The numbers don’t give the powers that be a reason to stop and the only thing that’s on everybody’s mind is, Who is going to do what, next?