The online Verzuz battles took off during quarantine when the world was looking for a reprieve but it was the Beenie Man versus Bounty Killer battle that set the series alight.The social media driven phenomenon, organised by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, included a head-to-head battle between R&B greats Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and Teddy Riley that was beset by technical issues and poor internet connectivity on April 18.
More than a month later, on May 23, dancehall stalwarts Beenie Man and Bounty killer would face-off in a soundclash style event that had half a million viewers on the page’s Instagram Live alone.
The ‘chune fi chune’ matchup was celebrated by many as the highlight of the series, reminiscent of full-blown street party, complete with police interruption and dozens of celebrities tuned in.
The success of the musical battle made the two deejays’ absence from the cover of Billboard magazine’s Verzuz feature all the more glaring. Dubbed “The Verzuz Effect” the feature story calls the clash the “cultural high point for Verzuz” but neglected to include the artistes on its lead image which included Edmonds, Riley, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, Jill Scott, John Legend and Alicia Keys among others.
So blatant was the omission that Verzuz moved to agree with dissenting fans on Twitter. The show’s official account tweeted, “To our fans: While we are honored that #Verzuz made the cover of Billboard, this would not have been possible without Beenie Man & Bounty Killer, who set a big tone for our audience and represented for Jamaica”
Verzuz continued by thanking Billboard and the writer for the featured article but added an alternate cover that replaced Beatz and Timbaland with the ‘King of the Dancehall’ Beenie Man and the ‘The Poor People Governor’, Bounty Killer.
Despite the belated attempt at appeasing Jamaicans, and the ‘yaadie’ community at large, fans on social media were not pleased by the move.
Bounty Killer, born Rodney Price, also had some strong words to share about Billboard leaving him off the cover.
Beenie Man, given name Moses Davis, also added his thoughts on the matter, saying “I guess billboard is REALLY THAT GUY”, referencing his “Do you really want to be that guy?” question posed to the police when they interrupted his Verzuz battle.