Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, And Elon Musk Are Relaunching Verzuz On X; Controversy Erupts Online

Nearly two years since the last Verzuz battle, music powerhouses Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have announced a new distribution deal to bring the popular streaming series back, this time on the platform X. 

The news, revealed on Wednesday in collaboration with X owner and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has stirred mixed reactions among fans and observers.

Verzuz, the brainchild of Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, will now stream future events for free on X. The announcement was made during the Cannes Lions conference in France, where the trio shared celebratory images from a yacht to mark both the occasion and the Juneteenth holiday. 

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!!!” Timbaland and Swizz Beatz wrote in a joint post on X and Instagram. “Verzuz is back and 100% Black-owned again,” they emphasized, also hinting at new entertainment ventures on the X platform.

The relaunch follows the reacquisition of Verzuz by Timbaland and Swizz Beatz from their previous partner, Triller, earlier this year. The duo had previously sued Triller for breach of contract, settling multiple lawsuits over allegations of unpaid dues to them and their business partners.

Describing the new deal with X as a “mutually beneficial alliance,” Timbaland and Swizz Beatz will retain full ownership and creative control over Verzuz, while X secures exclusive distribution rights. This partnership is expected to expand Verzuz’s viewership, leveraging X’s more than 300 million monthly active users.

“We are beyond thrilled to have found the best partner for Verzuz,” Swizz Beatz stated. “Not only are we excited to have Verzuz on X, we’re excited to help X build the biggest entertainment company in the world.” Timbaland echoed this sentiment, expressing that their goal has always been to bring Verzuz to a global audience.

Verzuz, which launched in March 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, has featured memorable battles between artists such as DMX and Snoop Dogg, Brandy and Monica, and Alicia Keys and John Legend. The series, known for its good-natured competitions, has evolved from Instagram Live showdowns to in-person events.

However, the announcement of the relaunch on X has not been universally well-received. Fans took to social media to voice their concerns about the partnership, particularly criticizing the timing of the announcement on Juneteenth. Comments on Instagram and X ranged from skepticism to outright disapproval, with some accusing the co-founders of “selling out.”

Food Network personality Sunny Anderson wrote, “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh WHO’S GONNA TELL THEM???” while Others echoed similar sentiments.

“Fire your marketing team. Announcing partnering with Elon on Juneteenth?🙄” another post read. 

Another user wrote, “Meaning, Verzuz is still Black owned but in order for Black people to watch, we all have to flock to a platform we’re being racially targeted on. I can see the racism in the comments now 🤦🏾‍♀️” another wrote. While WGN reporter Glenn Marshall Jr. added “Welp, it was fun during the pandemic. Cherish those memories, I guess🤷🏾‍♂️.”

Despite the backlash, X Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino expressed enthusiasm about the partnership. “X is so proud to partner with trailblazing creators, artists, and entrepreneurs Swizz Beatz and Timbaland,” Yaccarino said. 

She added: “Our platform stands at the forefront of innovation, and Verzuz defines the essence of an innovative content experience.” 

As Timbaland and Swizz Beatz aim to navigate this new chapter for Verzuz, the reactions highlight the challenges of balancing artistic integrity, business decisions, and public perception. 

Only time will tell how this new venture will unfold and whether it will recapture the magic that made Verzuz a cultural phenomenon during the pandemic.

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