Timbaland and Swizz Beatz offered Hip-Hop fans a lifeline in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning its global rampage. As the concert industry shut down, Verzuz popped up, delivering historic matchups between some of Hip-Hop and R&B’s biggest stars. Beginning with Instagram Live streams, the platform evolved into a lucrative brand after it was acquired by Triller in 2021.
While the battles were initially announced at a dizzying pace, legal troubles arose in August 2022 when Timbo and Swizz Beatz sued Triller for $28 million. The following month, all parties reached an agreement that increased Timbo and Swizz Beatz’s ownership stake in Triller. In a recent interview with AllHipHop.comTimbaland spoke about their plans for Verzuz and when we can expect the third season (or what he and Swizz Beatz have dubbed “Verzuz 3.0”) to begin.
“Verzuz is still a baby,” he says. “It was something that was built in the pandemic that’s now a household name. Look how you saying it. Now we back open. To make it have the longevity that we need it to have, we have to reorganize the ship. We have to know how are we scaling up. We have to do things not how people used to us doing things.
“With everything going on in the world, we have to convert back and really make this a real serious business model and a real serious thing, because I feel like Verzuz changes people’s lives. What me and Swizz have created, we have changed the lives of a lot of things and built up catalogs, so we have to really structure who we are and when we come back, what we stand for.”
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Since its inception, Verzuz has provided dozens of intriguing (and sometimes explosive) matchups that span generations and create memorable, viral moments. From Big Daddy Kane vs. KRS-One and Three 6 Mafia vs. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony to Earth, Wind & Fire vs. The Isley Brothers and Jeezy vs. Gucci Mane, the diversity of each card continued to draw in millions of viewers. While Verzuz hasn’t hosted a battle since July 2022, Timbaland says that will change before the end of the year.
“Once you reintroduce a business that you built in front of people, it has to be somewhat nostalgic of what it was, but as it builds into what the future is going to be, you have to organize—and that’s what we’ve been doing,” he adds. “I believe that we’re gonna drop some good ones before the end of the year. We’re trying to get at least one good one before the end of the year to recalibrate what Verzuz is going to be in the future.”
Each “V,” which Timbaland refers to as “the bat signal,” needs to be authentic and the scalability of the brand needs to be right because it’s “a big brand.” He continues, “It’s almost how we look at the WWE and wrestling. It’s like, ‘OK, now I gotta do WrestleMania, I gotta do this, I gotta do that.’ I gotta build this stuff to captivate the people.”
Timbaland is currently back in the studio with longtime collaborators Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado. The trio just dropped a new single called “Keep Going Up,” which came about with the help of Timbo’s company, Beatclub. Find more information here and check out a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the song below.