It was billed as a monstrous-sized matchup, two of the very best, heavyweights in the game – T-Rex vs King Kong…. and it lived up to the huge anticipation as DJ Premier and RZA went track for track in a 3 hour epic Instagram LIVE #Verzuz ‘battle’. Despite some technical issues early on, it was certainly the place to be as up to 200k people tuned in online (90k flooded the stream within the first TWO MINUTES including DJ Jazzy Jeff who we know has been struggling healthwise – so prayers up to him, Fred the Godson and others who are struggling or have friends and family struggling right now).

So many big names were seen popping onto DJ Premier’s Instagram LIVE and he did a great job of shouting them out when he could. After some initial back and forth, the competition commenced and RZA started things off. For those who tuned in, The Abbott started with flames and while the sound quality certainly had some bugs, when you’ve listened to dubbed copies of tapes that have been copied from tapes that have been copied from radio – this was MORE than fine for me! (Getting quality hip hop in Australia as a 10 year old lad was tough – although I still managed to get my NWA tape and Digital Underground cassettes taken from me!)

Once the audio bugs were ironed out though, it was full throttle in a back and forth that was simply sensational. Hit after hit after hit was churned out, both producers showing a LOT of love to the other and the ad-hoc conversations and stories being told between jams was a lovely little bonus and insight into both guys not just as producers but as people. Knowing just what they thought of certain beats, or who was at who’s crib when beats were crafted – we were behind the scenes with two of the greatest minds in hip hop. It was authentic, it was real – it was the essence of hip hop culture.

Musically – wow. As expected there were FAR too many hot joints to count with no ‘throwaway’ rounds at all. Even went Preemo went R&B with his D’Angelo jam… it was still amazing. Then you had extra special WOW moments like when RZA asked Premier to play an extra verse so he could here the Guru lines he was craving, when both producers whipped out guitars to coincide with a Rebel INS track or when the RZA’s kids came on screen and banged out to the Wu…. This was more than just about the music and the hits, it was a special moment in time, an insight into a different world – all from the comfort of our own homes due to COVID-19.

But what a silver lining social isolation has given us. Someone needs to take that battle and turn it into a mixtape that we can put in a time capsule and stamp this moment for ever, and for me to jam to over the next few months. You see, hip hop is still in a golden era and I’ve spoken with some EPIC producers (like Stu Bangas who also got a shoutout from DJ Premier himself on the live!) but this just goes to show how incredible and top shelf the RZA and DJ Premier are. Even producers I’m in awe of, are in awe of these guys – and with good reason.

So – for those who tuned in and missed some cuts, or those who are newer to hip hop and may not have known some of the gems – here is a ‘playlist’ as to who dropped what.

DJ Premier
Jay Z – ‘A Million & One Questions’
M.O.P – ‘Breakin the Rules’
Mos Def – ‘Mathematics’
Big L – ‘The Enemy’
KRS-One – ‘MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know’
Das EFX – ‘Real Hip Hop’
Group Home – ‘Livin Proof’
D’Angelo – ‘Devil’s Pie’
Gang Starr – ‘Just to Get a Rep’
Jay Z – ‘D’Evils’
Nas – ‘Nas Is Like’
Gang Starr – ‘The ? Remainz’
Notorious B.I.G – ‘Unbelievable’
Jeru the Damaja – ‘Come Clean’
Notorious B.I.G – ‘Kick in the Door’
Gang Starr w/ Wu – ‘Above The Clouds’
Nas – ‘N.Y State of Mind’
Gang Starr – ‘Dwyck’
Royce Da 5’9 – ‘Boom’
Notorious B.I.G – ‘Ten Crack Commandments’

GZA – ‘Liquid Swords’
Method Man – ‘Bring the Pain’
Cappadonna – ‘Maria’
Raekwon – ‘Wu Gambinos’
Ghostface & Jadakiss – ‘Run’
Wu Tang Clan – ‘Shame on a N***a’
Wu Tang Clan – ‘Protect Ya Neck’
RZA & GZA – ‘Cold World’
Method Man – ‘Wu Tang Clan’
Ghostface – Motherless Child
Raekwon – Verbal Intercourse
Wu Tang Clan – ‘Buck 50’
Raekwon – ‘Ice Cream’
ODB – ‘Brooklyn Zoo’
ODB – ‘Shimmy, Shimmy Ya’
Notorious B.I.G – ‘Long Kiss Goodnight’
Ghostface – ‘Assassination Day’
Rae & Ghost – ‘Criminology’
Raekwon – ‘Incarcerated Scarfaces’
Method Man feat. Mary J Blige – ‘You’re All I Need’

There was ‘bonus time’ as RZA’s wife was delightful in allowing the show to go on, and we also got to hear gems like ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ ‘C.R.E.A.M.’, ‘Mass Appeal’, ‘Dark Fantasy’, ‘Triumph’ and others. And let’s also take a second to mention that both guys at varying points were doing live cuts and scratches etc.

Just like the IG live, this article has to end sometime, and that is now, but I hope you all tuned in, or at least go and find it on YouTube to run it back as it’s one of the best experiences of a ‘concert / show / battle’ I’ve seen in 30 years of following hip hop. Love to Premo, RZA, Swizz, Timbaland and everyone else who made it happen.

WHO WON? If you’re looking for a winner – it was all 200,000 people who turned out to watch. IT was hip hop, the aspiring producers etc. Everyone won in some capacity, but if I had to pick a side, I must say – I actually scored a very, very narrow win to RZA.

About The Author

By Brutus Maximus

Founder of Raw Side Hip Hop. Been rocking with the hip hop culture for over 30 years. Love the creativity, authenticity of the art and the culture as a whole. Shout out to the real ones making and supporting true hip hip and the artists who make it!