The second season of Swizz Beatz and Timbaland’s smash Instagram Live series Verzuz kicked off on a rather cold note with a showdown between Atlanta rappers Jeezy and Gucci Mane on Thursday, November 20. The battle, hosted in the popular Atlanta strip club Magic City, saw the two longtime adversaries go head-to-head, and the stakes were higher than ever due to the Mane and Jeezy’s complex and fraught history with one another. The two have a decades-long beef, stemming from a disagreement about the rights to Mane’s 2005 single “Icy” featuring Young Jeezy and Boo, which led to a member of Jeezy’s crew, rapper Henry Lee Clark III a.k.a. Pookie Loc, getting shot to death after attempting to rob Gucci Mane with four other men. Prosecutors ultimately dropped charges against Mane, who maintains that he was acting in self-defense, but, shockingly enough, things have been strained between Mane and Jeezy ever since. Fifteen years and multiple diss tracks later, it’s clear that these men have history.
And for the vast majority of the Verzuz battle, you could tell as the room was thick with tension. Beginning a sensible hour after the scheduled 8 p.m. start time, the battle had over 1 million viewers before Mane or Jeezy even took the stage. Georgia royalty and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan Stacey Abrams kicked things off by spreading the word, yet again, about how important it is for the citizens of Georgia to vote (blue) once again in their upcoming Senate runoff races. Then the battle began, with each King of Hotlanta given his very own throne to sit in as the other took the stage. A very serious Gucci barely used his throne, however, choosing to stand more or less the entire time. At it’s height, about 1.8 million viewers tuned in as Gucci and Mane went through their hits, with Jeezy laying down his verses from songs like “Put On” and “Soul Surviver,” while Mane drew from his incredibly deep discography, spitting out classics like “I Might Be” and “Lemonade.”
In between songs, the two rappers had a few heated exchanges. At one point Gucci told the crowd to look at his outfit, shouting that it cost “ten bands.” “Look at my opponent,” repeated Mane, disparaging Jeezy’s outfit. Jeezy, who was decidedly more relaxed throughout, said that while his outfit didn’t cost 10K, he’s got a ton of real estate and “owns over half of Atlanta.” After Mane launched into “Truth (Not a Jeezy Diss),” a track that directly references Pookie Loc, Jeezy attempted to bury the hatchet. “I brought you here to show you the world care about what the fuck we got going on, because we are the culture,” Jeezy said, before shouting out a long list of rappers who’ve lost their lives to gun violence like King Von, Pop Smoke, and Nipsey Hussle and launching into his song “Get Ya Mind Right.” At that point, Mane wasn’t really having it. “If I can’t perform the truth then I won’t do it,” Mane said, and the battle continued. Things got so tense that T.I., whom Gucci replaced in the battle, wondered aloud if the switch was ultimately a good idea.
However, by battle’s end it seems the two had reached at least a detente, with the two joining forces on Mane’s track “Icy.” “I appreciate you for putting out the olive branch,” Mane said. “It’s all love.” Between this and the OG Aunt Viv and Will Smith reuniting at the Fresh Prince reunion, it’s been a big week for burying the hatchet. Even though things seemed okay between the two by the end when they headed to their joint after-party, Mane released a mixtape Trap God Classics: I Am My Only Competition after the battle was over. Still, all’s well that ends well, right?