In the music world, Verzuz battles are common between deejays. One of the most famous was between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. It resulted in a 216 percent increase in their catalogs and streaming for participants. The event was covered by CNN and viewed by hundreds of celebrities, dignitaries, and personalities that included Rihanna, Idris Elba, Usain Bolt, Snoop Dog, Damien Marley, and Jamaica Prime Minister, Andrew Holness.
The battle was second only to the one created by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, missing the top spot held by Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott by just one percent, according to Nielsen/MRC Data that powers Billboard’s music charts, tracking sales, streams, and radio play within the music industry. It also took into account the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on the business. Audio consumption jumped by almost 10 percent over the past year.
The dancehall genre is alive and well, as evidenced by the results. Verzuz battles were created by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz on Instagram as friendly competitions. Opponents would take turns playing their music and exchanging verbal barbs, with scoring being left to the fans.
The battles began with about 22,000 viewers have become immensely popular. Over time that number has escalated rapidly with the Beenie Man-Bounty Killer battle racking up more than 1 billion impressions for “Brand Jamaica” and nearly 500,000 fans enjoyed the show. At one point it was interrupted by police responding to complaints about the loud music. It proceeded without incident when police discovered it was a global event.
Dancehall legends Beenie Man and Bounty Killer have a history spanning 25 years encompassing feuds, clashes, break-ups, and make-ups. Beenie Man began as a 10-year-old deejay creating music that was overtly sexual in nature. His talent led to a variety of cross-genre collaborations with global music stars.
Bounty Killer’s entry into the music industry was a lark, with a versatile style that could be a little wise, raunchy, or hard. The Verzus battle was particularly gratifying for those in the U.S., as the nation’s government restricted access for the two artists – and many others – in 2010.