This weekend’s Verzuz rematch between Swizz Beatz and Timbaland was full of mutual admiration between the two hip-hop titans, who first inaugurated the beat battles on Instagram in March 2020 and returned for seconds on May 30 in Miami. “I’m not gonna lie, that’s one of my favorite records,” Swizz told Timbaland after he played Aaliyah’s “Try Again” early into the matchup, saying he’d “step aside” for that round. But that wasn’t the case when Timbaland played Jay-Z’s 2013 track “Holy Grail,” which features his close collaborator Justin Timberlake on the chorus. “Until you can get Justin Timberlake on Verzuz, I don’t really wanna hear those vocals,” Swizz replied, after a laugh. The comment came after Timbaland had hinted back in January at a Verzuz battle between Timberlake and Usher, even telling ESPN’s Jalen & Jacoby that Drake wanted the battle to happen.
Once the battle went into overtime, Timbaland pulled out bigger Timberlake hits like “Cry Me a River” and “SexyBack,” which led Swizz to make a more pointed statement. “Until Justin let the world know that he —” he started, before Timbaland cut in. “Justin gotta come out, he’s coming out,” Timbaland assured his partner. “He gotta admit that he love the Black culture and he gotta be on this stage,” Swizz continued. He went on to give Timberlake a direct invitation: “You took from the Black culture, you give to the Black culture. Come to Verzuz and be a part of the Black culture.”
Recapping the Verzuz on Instagram Live on May 31, Timbaland told Swizz he “went a little hard on my brother JT” (beginning around 2:14). Swizz replied, “Look, man, I had to go hard. Did you hear how them songs were sounding on that stage? You and JT, it was like JT was in the building. I was like, man!” The mogul went on to add that he “was just having fun.” “I don’t got no problem with JT,” Swizz said. And he once again extended the invite for a future Verzuz: “Shout-out to JT,” he continued. “We can’t wait to get you onstage having fun, ’cause you deserve it too.”
The rest of the night, though, was more drama-free. Guests like Nas, Rick Ross, Busta Rhymes, Fabolous, and DaBaby were in the audience for the battle, which Swizz and Timbaland dedicated to their late collaborators DMX and Aaliyah. During overtime, Swizz even pulled out a remix of one of the tracks he produced on DMX’s posthumous album Exodus. He played a J. Cole verse on “Bath Salts,” the new DMX banger that already featured fellow New York legends Jay-Z and Nas. We’ll be looking for that one on the deluxe.
This post has been updated throughout.