As the world continues to open back up from the pandemic shutdown, many more events have been in the rotation this past weekend, and I have had to catch up and stream them all. Saturday, the world got the opportunity to travel back to the late 90s, early 2000s and witness two of hip hop’s most influential young rappers of all time. In borrowing the effervescent slogan of singer Rihanna, comparatively, it can be stated, “That Verzuz reign just won’t let up.”
It’s been a few Verzuz battles since I last discussed one on the blog: the Xscape vs. SWV, Mother’s Day Verzuz special. Just as that Verzuz and the last Verzuz before Bow Wow and Soulja Boy, the 90s have been making a comeback! And with the bold and confident swag between them both, Saturday’s Verzuz was another event for the history books.
The franchise has been in existence for a little over a year. And with each passing Verzuz battle, it’s become more publicly evident that black culture is the blueprint. I emphasize the word “publicly” because it’s been a fact for much longer in our society. However, with the access and ability to receiving information, trends, and viral moments at warp speed, this fact has resonated much quicker. Just google “black TikTok boycott,” and you’ll get all the points that you need about this.
Presently, if you weren’t one of the almost 700k that watched the Verzuz battle live between the two former teen rappers, you can catch the rewind on the official Verzuz Instagram page as well as a few links on YouTube while they last. Without going into the round for round recap, I want to state what I gained from Saturday’s battle beside a good workout. From their friendly and humorous competitive battle, I gleaned four essential concepts:
1. Black culture continues to influence and set bars years and even decades from its original debut.
Despite the time and era in which Soulja and Bow Wow began dominating the music charts, their charismatic songs and energy has endured well beyond their teen years and have influenced a generation of young stars with their business and style innovation. Many of the feats that they could accomplish during the 90s and the 2000s have been hard to replicate, such as internet streaming innovation to ringtone sales when it was a big deal.
2. Both younger and older artists can come together, set aside differences, and create magic.
Perhaps one of the most significant moments of the night, aside from the numerous guests that hopped on the stage with Bow Wow and Soulja Boy to perform, was when Soulja Boy invited Romeo to the stage. What began as an awkward moment turned into a genuine salute. I also want to point out that we need to stop pitting artists against each other as a cultural movement moving forward. There’s room for everyone at the table, and everyone brings a different talent and perspective to that very table.
3. My late youth through early college years were lit!
“I won’t deny it; I was straight vibin’ during the Verzuz! The songs and the energy took me back to a time in my youth when music was fun, and television video shows were king. Their music took me from the high school halls and the kiddie club, aka the skating rink, to college parties where myself and other black greek organization members would stroll to. I noticed many people mentioning 106 and Park during the streaming broadcast and how their music constantly dominated the show’s countdown, which brings me to my last point.
4. This generation deserves to have cultural fun as well.
Outside of social media and trending moments, this generation deserves to have show moments that celebrate the culture while also uplifting the talented artists of today among their era. It appears that similar shows I consider to be elite from the 90s are trying to make comebacks during this era.
So, I’m always hopeful that someday soon, we will continue to grow beyond “reality” television. I certainly think over 20 years is good enough, and we are due for a break in programming. In all, if you haven’t watched the Verzuz between Bow Wow and Soulja Boy, you have to catch up. Check out the battle recap here!
The next Verzuz battle series installment will occur during the second weekend of the 2021 Essence Festival on July 2, 2021. No acts have been announced for this edition, so it will be exciting to see which following greats are up next!