COVID-19 has forced millions to stay indoors and has led to massive concert postponements and cancellations. With our doctors and nurses helping to ward off coronavirus, our artists are doing their part to entertain the quarantined masses.
With social distancing as a must, singers have used their creativity and social media platforms to give their fans a show. Erykah Badu and Anthony Hamilton are among many who have serenaded fans with mini-concerts from their homes over Instagram Live, while DJ D-Nice and Questlove are front-page news with nostalgic DJ sets that last for hours!
Grammy-winning super producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz kicked off the most popular draw yet: IG Beat Battles. The two summoned tens of thousands of views on Instagram in late March, squaring off one club-shaking beat after the next.
— Alfonzy👽 (@Alfonzzy_) March 27, 2020
They’ve since curated a string of battles, starting with producers Boi1da and HitBoy, followed by a songwriting battle between The-Dream and Sean Garrett, followed by another songwriting duel between Ne-Yo and Johnta Austin. The participants have been playing up the drama for the fans as well.
Big boy shit !!! filled up a stadium last night with 80k in attendance . This battle was crazy!!!! Thank you @johntalsr and @NeYoCompound for such greatness @Timbaland @THEREALSWIZZZ for setting it up,I cant wait for the next pic.twitter.com/NOMxVsxt5n
— Jermaine Dupri (@jermainedupri) March 31, 2020
Ne-Yo played “Go On, Girl,” spouting how Michael Jackson told him personally that the track was his favorite Ne-Yo song. Austin took a sip from his wine glass, removed his tuxedo jacket and proceeded to play a song he said many of the 40,000-plus watchers were likely conceived with: Tyrese‘s “Sweet Lady.”
Wednesday’s battle between Manny Fresh and Scott Storch, the producers promoted their duel on IG with posters and trailers to build momentum, engaging in some clever smack talk. It worked. This latest match-up gathered over 200,000 viewers, signaling the growing love for this new event.
While fans head to Twitter to debate the winners, this new string of IG Beat Battles has been a wonderful way for the public to celebrate the songs. It’s also provided a platform for creators to show love, respect, and admiration toward each other’s music. The best part is that it allows the public to come to appreciate the work of songwriters and producers, who are often overshadowed.
Naturally, it’s inspiring fans to speculate and suggest who should participate next in these battles. theGrio has 10 Fantasy Music Battle match-ups that would certainly break the internet:
Metro Boomin’ vs. Mike Will Made It
Metro’s Track Record: “Bad & Boujee,” Migos; “Jumpman,” Drake & Future; “Mask Off,” Future; “Tuesday,” ILoveMakommen
Mike Will’s Track Record: “Humble,” Kendrick Lamar; “Black Beatles,” “No Flex Zone,” Rae Sremmurd; “Pour It Up,” Rihanna
Tale of the Tape: Hailing from St. Louis, Metro Boomin’ helped make trap beats mainstream starting with Future’s 2013 album, Honest. He racked up massive rap hits that cracked the mainstream with ILoveMakommen and Drake’s “Tuesday,” and Future and Drake’s “Jumpman.” He became a household name making Migos’ number one smash “Bad & Boujee,” and Kanye’s triple-platinum “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1.”
Atlanta’s Mike Will Made It also cut his teeth working with Future and Kanye, with beats like “Turn on the Lights” and “Mercy” respectively. He then branched out to Ciara for “Body Party,” and Beyonce’s “Formation.” His productions also trap-based, but are much weightier on the bottom end. Just listen to Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” or Jay-Z’s all to brief Magna Carta Holy Grail interlude, “Beach Is Better.” Both will make you wanna smash something.
Each has had success making beats for pop stars. Mike has run the boards for Miley Cyrus with “We Can’t Stop,” and Rihanna for “Pour It Up.” Meanwhile, Metro has a number one this year with The Weeknd’s “Heartless.” But this battle is all about crowd response, and Mike’s tracks are just too hype and varied against Metro’s more polished trap sound.
Predicted Winner: Mike Will Made It
T-Minus vs. Noah “40” Shebib
T-Minus Track Record: “How Low,” Ludacris; “Moment 4 Life,” Nicki Minaj; “I’m On One,” DJ Khaled; “The Motto,” Drake; “Swimming Pools,” Kendrick Lamar
40’s Track Record: “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” Drake; “Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready),” Alicia Keys; “One Dance,” Drake; “Fuckin’ Problems,” A$AP Rocky
Tale Of The Tape: Both these Canadian producers made their fortunes by crafting massive hit records for Drake and Young Money Records. T-Minus hit the top 10 with Nicki Minaj’s “Moment 4 Life” and 40 has been Drake’s principal producer since the So Far Gone mixtape and hits like “Successful.”
When they branch out beyond Mr. Graham, they continue to win. T got a Grammy nod for Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pools” and 40 scored a number one R&B smash with Alicia Keys’ “Unthinkable (I’m Ready).” While T has been better at gaining hits with outside artists, such as J.Cole’s first top 10 single, “Middle Child,” 40 and Drake’s streak of smashes that include “One Dance,” “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” and “Nice For What,” is just too suffocating.
Predicted Winner: 40 Shebib
LA Reid & Babyface vs. Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
LA & ‘Face Track Record: “End of the Road,” Boyz II Men; “Roni,” Bobby Brown; “Can We Talk,” Tevin Campbell; “My My My,” Johnny Gill
Jam & Lewis Track Record: “Can You Stand The Rain,” New Edition; “That’s The Way Love Goes,” Janet Jackson; “On Bended Knee,” Boyz II Men; “U Remind Me,” Usher
Tale of the Tape: These duos are responsible for some of the most enduring R&B and Pop songs of the last four decades! Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, either with LA or solo, made Bobby Brown a superstar with “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Roni,” broke records with Boyz II Men with “End of the Road” and “I’ll Make Love To You,” and gave Whitney Houston’s a pair of number ones with “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “Exhale (Shoop Shoop).”
Jam & Lewis helped define what is the Minneapolis Sound with thanks to Human League’s “Human,” they matured New Edition’s sound with “If It Isn’t Love” and “Can You Stand The Rain,” helped Usher take the next step with “U Remind Me.” Under their own label, Perspective Records, the groomed artists and hit paydirt with The Sounds of Blackness’ “Optimistic,” and Solo’s “Where Do You Want Me To Put It.”
Both pairs are titans and the fight would come down to the wire. But Jam and Lewis have the ultimate knockout punch: The Janet Jackson catalog.
Predicted Winners: Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
Pete Rock vs. DJ Premier
Pete Rock Track Record: “They Reminisce Over You,” Pete Rock & CL Smooth; “The World is Yours,” Nas; “Down With The King,” Run DMC; “Don’t Curse,” Heavy D
DJ Premier Track Record: “DWYCK,” Gang Starr; “NY State of Mind,” Nas; “Come Clean,” Jeru The Damaja; “Unbelievable,” The Notorious B.I.G.
This event has been going on already for years. While the two are friends in real life, they’ve traveled the world performing live beat battles against one another for nearly a decade. With good reason. Both are part of genre-defining duos: Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Gang Starr. Pete’s own catalog with “They Reminisce Over You” is legendary, as is Premier and Guru’s records like “Mass Appeal.”
Each are killer DJs with uncanny scratching chops, both had iconic songs on Nas’ Illmatic album. Even today, they’ve paired up with new MCs to create fire content, like Pete’s stellar 2019 collab album with Skyzoo, Retropolitian, and Preemo’s partnership with Royce Da 5’9” and their two Prhyme albums. You can’t go wrong either way, but Preemo’s volume of work is just a hair longer than Rock.
Predicted Winner: DJ Premier
Missy Elliott vs. Ester Dean
Missy’s Track Record: “One in a Million,” Aaliyah; “Where My Girls At,” 702; “1,2 Step,” Ciara; “My Love is Like…Wo,” Mya
Ester’s Track Record: “Rude Boy,” Rihanna; “Countown,” Beyonce; “Firework,” Katy Perry; “Pills N Potions,” Nicki Minaj
Tale of the Tape: While this might seem like a mismatch at first glance. Missy recently became the first female hip-hop artist inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Thanks to songs like Monica’s “So Gone,” 702’s “Steelo” and “Where My Girls At,” and some of Aaliyah’s biggest hits: “One in a Million,” “4 Page Letter” and “If Your Girl Only Knew.”
However, if you omit Missy’s solo work, it’s not one-sided at all. During this past decade, Dean has lent her pen to some of the biggest hits for the biggest acts: Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” Robin Thicke’s “Sex Therapy,” Katy Perry’s “Firework,” Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass,” and Selena Gomez’s “Come & Get It.”
As much as Ester is crushing things lately, Missy opened the door.
Predicted Winner: Missy Elliott
Rodney Jerkins vs. Teddy Riley
Rodney’s Track Record: “Say My Name,” Destiny’s Child; “You Rock My World,” Michael Jackson; “The Boy Is Mine,” Brandy & Monica; “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK,” Whitney Houston
Teddy’s Track Record: “No Diggity,” BLACKstreet; “My Prerogative,” Bobby Brown; “Remember The Time,” Michael Jackson; “Make It Last Forever,” Keith Sweat
Tale of the Tape: These are two of Black music’s greatest visionaries. Teddy created a new genre, New Jack Swing, and took the world by storm by combining the sonic edginess of hip-hop with the smooth, gospel fervor of R&B vocals and melodies.
Evident in tracks like Johnny Kemp’s “Just Got Paid,” Keith Sweat’s “I Want Her,” Al B. Sure!’s “If I’m Not Your Lover,” and Heavy D’s “Now That We Found Love.” And that’s not even counting his own hits with Guy (“I Like”) and BLACKstreet (“Before I Let You Go”).
Darkchild came almost out of nowhere with Gina Thompson’s “The Things That You Do” and Mary J. Blige’s “I Can Love You Better.” Then he dropped a bomb called “The Boy is Mine.” From there, it’s been an avalanche of hits: Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name,” Toni Braxton’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right, But It’s OK,” and JLo’s “If You Had My Love.” His icy synths and spacey polyrhythms have taken up residency at the top of the Billboard charts.
The ultimate tie-breaker is Michael Jackson. Both have made amazing work with the King of Pop. But “Remember The Time” and “In the Closet” outdo “You Rock My World” and “Unbreakable.”
Predicted Winner: Teddy Riley
Bryan-Michael Cox vs. Tricky Stewart
Bryan-Michael’s Track Record: “Be Without You,” Mary J. Blige; “Don’t,” Bryson Tiller; “U Got It Bad,” Usher; “Let’s Get Married,” Jagged Edge
Tricky’s Track Record: “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” Beyonce; “Umbrella,” Rihanna; “Baby,” Justin Bieber; “Just Fine,” Mary J. Blige
You’d be hard-pressed to find to writers who have been as successful for as long and be as prolific as these to contestants. Bryan-Michael has been part of some of the most epic ballads this side of the millennium; Jagged Edge’s “Let’s Get Married,” Mary J. Blige’s “Be Without You,” Toni Braxton’s “Just Be A Man About It,” and Aaliyah’s “Come Over.”
But that doesn’t mean he can’t up the pace, evident in dance grooves like Mariah Carey’s “Shake It Off” and Nivea’s “Don’t Mess With My Man.”
Tricky Stewart’s name is on damn near half of every top 10 Billboard Hot 100 hit by a Black artist over the past 20 years. His partnership with The-Dream has yielded a pop tidal wave with Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” Jamie Foxx’s “Blame It,” and Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body. On his own, he’s just as effective, responsible for jams like Mya’s “Case of the Ex,” and Frank Ocean’s “Novacane.”
Tricky’s got enough hits to build a factory, but there’s always bound to be an upset. And nostalgia is a hell of a drug.
Predicted Winner: Bryan-Michael Cox
Raphael Saadiq vs. Andre Harris
Raphael’s Track Record: “Anniversary,” Tony! Toni! Tone; “Kissin’ You,” Total; “(Untitled) How Does It Feel,” D’Angelo; “Cranes In The Sky,” Solange
Andre’s Track Record: “Butterflies,” Michael Jackson; “A Long Walk,” Jill Scott; “Hate It or Love It,” The Game & 50 Cent; “All The Way Up,” Fat Joe & Remy Ma
Tale of the Tape: This is a battle against to of the most underappreciated songwriters of the past 20-plus years. Saadiq is known mostly for his stellar work as the lead singer of Tony! Toni! Tone, he’s not only co-created many of their classics — “Anniversary,” “It Feels Good,” “Let’s Get Down” — he’s penned classic after classic for his fellow Alternative soul brothers and sisters, from Angie Stone’s “Brotha,” “Erykah Badu’s “Love Of My Life” to D’Angelo’s “Lady” and Bilal’s “Soul Sista.”
Harris has been a stalwart for both Neo-Soul and Hip-Hop. He was the man behind much of Jill Scott’s debut hits, “A Long Walk,” “Getting In The Way” and “The Way,” and Floetry’s “Say Yes,” but as half of the production duo “Cool & Dre,” made rap anthems like The Game’s “Hate It or Love It,” and Fat Joe’s “All The Way Up.”
Andre’s versatility is palpable, and he has the MJ golden ticket with “Butterflies,” but Raphael’s made too many classics, and his own work takes him over the top and then some.
Predicted Winner: Raphael Saadiq
Sean “P. Diddy” Combs vs. Jermaine Dupri
Diddy’s Track Record: “Be Happy,” Mary J. Blige; “All About The Benjamins,” Puff Daddy & The Family; “Big Poppa,” The Notorious B.I.G.; “Honey,” Mariah Carey
Jermaine’s Track Record: “You Make Me Wanna,” Usher; “Jump,” Kriss Kross; “Always Be My Baby,” Mariah Carey; “My Boo,” Usher & Alicia Keys
Tale of the Tape: It’s the battle of the CEOs. Puffy’s Bad Boy Records against JD’s So So Def. Puffy’s credentials are notorious, no pun intended. With his partnership with Chucky Thompson and the overseer of The Hit-Men, Diddy is responsible in a way or another for countless classic records: Jodeci’s “Come & Talk to Me” remix, his own “All About The Benjamins,” Biggie’s “Juicy,” and Mase’s “Feels So Good.”
JD has hits as a producer and songwriter. His hits with Usher – “You Make Me Wanna,” “My Way,” “Burn,” “My Boo” – have stood the test of time. His So So Def stable of DaBrat’s “Funkdafied,” Bow Bow’s “Bounce Wit Me,” and Jagged Edge’s “Where The Party At” are certified club bangers.
Both of their personalities would make this match-up worth the watch just for their interaction and hype confidence. In the end, JD has been able to make hits for longer.
Predicted Winner: Jermaine Dupri
Pharrell Williams vs. Kanye West
Pharrell Track Record: “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” Snoop Dogg; “Alright,” Kendrick Lamar; “Grindin’,” Clipse; “Get Lucky,” Daft Punk
Kanye Track Record: “Stand Up,” Ludacris; “You Don’t Know My Name,” Alicia Keys; “H.O.V.A. (Izzo),” Jay-Z; “Swagga Like Us,” T.I.
Tale of the Tape: The battle that Timbo and Swizz have been dreaming about from the beginning. Two eccentric, progressive, controversial geniuses in battle royale worthy of a main event. In one corner, from Virginia Beach, you have Skateboard P. His catalog as half of the Neptunes (shout out to Chad Hugo) alone makes him a formidable opponent.
SWV’s “Use Your Heart,” Brittany Spears’ “Slave 4 U,” Noreaga’s “Superthug (What What)” Justin Timberlake’s “Rock Your Body,” and Mystikal’s “Shake Ya Ass” to name a few. His solo work, as a producer and artist, he’s been just as lethal, from “Happy,” “Get Lucky,” and “Blurred Lines,” to Migos’ “Stir Fry” and 2Chainz’s “Feds Watchin’.”
In another corner, from Chicago, you have ‘Ye. A polarizing juggernaut who often allows his antics to overshadow his abilities. But let’s be clear, his music is the definition of undeniable. He started out as a go-to hip-hop producer, making bangers like Jay-Z’s “This Can’t Be Life,” Talib Kweli’s “Get By,” Slum Village’s “Selfish,” and Twista’s “Overnight Celebrity.”
While his solo albums have made him into one of the biggest artists the 21st century has ever seen with hits like “Slow Jamz,” “Gold Digger,” “Stronger” and “Heartless,” he never stopped making quality for others, be it Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name,” T.I.’s posse cut “Swagga Like Us,” John Legend’s “Heaven,” and two of Common’s most celebrated albums, Be and Finding Forever.
This battle is almost too close to call. Kanye’s diverse sound against Pharrell’s signature sound. The two have even worked on the same album a number of times (each made beats on Mariah Carey’s Emancipation of Mimi and Jay-Z’s The Black Album).
Again, their personalities and mutual admiration for each other would make this “must-see IG.” With only 20 songs to play, there’s no telling what the viewers will get, making the battle that much more intense. Whoever plays to the crowd more in terms of knowing what they want to hear will win the day. And the producer most likely does so is…
Predicted Winner: Pharrell Williams
Who would you like see do an IG Beat Battle?