'Verzuz' will return after Swizz Beatz, Timbaland lock in new distribution partnership with X

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Swizz Beatz and Timbaland are bringing the “Verzuz” series back with a new major platform for viewers to watch musicians face off in a song-against-song battle.

The legendary producers announced Wednesday that Verzuz cemented an exclusive partnership for independent distribution with the social media site X.

Swizz Beatz said he's looking forward to the new chapter for Verzuz, which became popular during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not only are we excited to have Verzuz on X, we’re excited to help X build the biggest entertainment company in the world,” he said in statement before he thanked several X executives including owner Elon Musk for believing in their vision. “We can't wait to get back to work.”

Both companies agreed on a “mutually beneficial alliance” where Swizz Beatz and Timbaland maintain full ownership and creative control, while X receives exclusive distribution rights.

Timbaland said he’s thrilled to expand their viewership through X, which has more than 300 millions monthly active users. Viewers will be able to watch “Verzuz” for free.

“Our goal has always been to bring Verzuz to the world which we can now do bigger than ever,” he said.

“Verzuz” came to life in 2020 after a friendly competition between Swizz Beatz and Timbaland on social media started off to entertain homebound fans during the pandemic. But their platform eventually evolved into a place where some of music’s biggest stars competed against each other in the same fashion.

The series had grown from a novel event to bridging music's past and present. It began on Instagram Live to having in-person battles in front of an audience.

Some of the most epic battles have included John Legend vs. Alicia Keys, Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott, Gladys Knight vs. Patti LaBelle, Gucci Mane vs. Jeezy, Brandy vs. Monica and Snoop Dogg vs. DMX. An April battle between Babyface vs. Teddy Riley ended abruptly due to audio issues but was completed another night.

The series was acquired by Triller in 2021, but Swizz Beatz and Timbaland sued the social video platform company for breach of contract. The producers settled with Triller in 2022.

“Our platform stands at the forefront of innovation, and Verzuz defines the essence of an innovative content experience,” said X CEO Linda Yaccarino. “As we continue to work with the most exciting voices to bring premium content to X, there is no better fit than this series.”