Dancehall singjay Mr Vegas says the Verzuz franchise owes a lot of its success to dancehall culture.
The Tek Weh Yuhself artist aired his opinions in an Instagram Live this week, heavily referencing the May 23, 2020 Verzuz battle between icons Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. Prior to their match-up, the song battle series unfolded via regular call-in on Instagram Live between the participatory artists.
“Check the format now on Verzuz compared to when Verzuz started; Verzuz now is a full-fledged clash…” Vegas said.
“Look at the Verzuz that they did with the Jamaican artists dem and look where Verzuz is at now and tell me who transformed Verzuz into what Verzuz is now. The idea where the two artists on the stage at the same time actually going at it like it’s a clash and many people around the world never seen this before,”he added.
He likened it to the culture’s influence in the development of hip hop music in the 1970s.
It was Jamaican DJ Kool Herc who created the prototype for hip hop music by employing the toasting style of Jamaican sound systems, and isolating and looping the breaks (danceable sections) of funk records.
“Is it going to be a similar situation where hip hop broke mainstream, hip hop became like a national genre, a worldwide genre, is it going to be a similar situation where Verzuz becomes this worldwide thing and dem nuh memba nothing bout the Jamaican artist dem? And dem nuh remember seh dah idea there fi put the artist dem inna di same room or pon the same platform like how dem just had Timbaland and Swizz Beatz going at it?”
The Verzuz brand is the brainchild of super producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, who added a live audience to their rematch last month. The event unfolded with DJs playing the music and the producers throwing words at each other as would be the case at a dancehall clash event.
“This thing yah a go start reach stadiums and guess what? You may never see another Jamaican artist pon it,” Vegas said. “Just like hip hop, dem nuh mention Jamaica when dem a talk bout hip hop unless you go inna di archive, unless a somebody weh cognizant about the music.”
He predicted the show having a future framework like the defunct clash stage show, Sting.
“When COVID gone and unno see Verzuz in a next five years, maybe next 10 years, unno a go seh, ‘Yow, a Sting dat’, but a we kill Sting… Artists start charge (principal) Isaiah Laing and start go against and start fight ‘gainst Isaiah Laing.”
Though the Verzuz franchise has been acquired by the Triller network, Vegas hopes that Jamaican artists will still be featured since its creators are stakeholders.
“I’m gonna watch and see if Timbaland and Swizz Beatz a go reach out to some Jamaicans and put them on… When it comes on go clash nobody no dweet better than Jamaicans…”
The next Verzuz face-off is scheduled for tonight between Bow Wow and Soulja Boy.