Just before midnight on Friday, February 24, hip-hop history was made. You've heard their music. You know their sounds. You recognize their legacies. But... Have you ever imagined what Swizz Beatz VERSUS Just Blaze would sound, battling head to head, going (literally) beat for beat?
This past Wednesday (Feb 22), Swizzy and Jus took to Instagram to announce their battle, the rules, and show how excited they were to. While Jus was laid back with the promotion, Swizzy went in and hyped the event like it was a pay-per-view showdown. A flurry of retweets and IG updates followed, and then, they were ready: after a single informative post, and a few screen taps to initiate Instagram Live... The battle commenced.
Just Blaze is a staple and is a big reason why a lot of your older favorites have such huge careers or memorable songs. Fabolous, Joe Budden, Beanie Sigel, Cam'ron, and Kanye West all owe him a debt of gratitude. He was also incredibly pivotal in Jay-Z's career. Remember this song? He's also put in work on that little splash of an album Queen Bey dropped last year. That's right, Just Blaze even produced that iconic Beyoncé / Kendrick Lamar collab "Freedom." The way Just flips samples is so mesmerizing, like, who thinks to do the things he does!? His production style is melodic, memorable, and strong. He really puts in work to make an album connect the dots through his songs, whether it's for a single or that one song with the larger-than-life feel and ridiculous sample.
As for Swizzy, the Bronx MC/DJ has been at work making some of your favorite music since he was 16 years-old. Coming into prominence with the Ruff Ryders, he has gone on to make some of the biggest and memorable hits for stars like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Cassidy, DMX, and Drake. Some of the latest work you can hear from Swizz comes from Kendrick Lamar's low-key (yet high-key) album-cut-turned-single "levitate" on 2016's untitled, unmastered. Rarely do his songs sit around as album cuts waiting to be discovered; his production always finds its way to the radio. His style is bombastic, flashy, and proud. His beats always leaves you feeling triumphant and wanting to dance!
This epic showdown had every hip hop head and their mama going HAM on Twitter:
One of the best moments: when Swizz dropped that Jay-Z / Nas / Jadakiss / DMX track (around the 02:24:00 mark) and... Well... Just see the reactions for yourself...
To say the least hip-hop needed that moment. We all know there is a huge divide in hip-hop right now. The older generation isn't feeling the current new school of rappers like Desiigner, Lil Yachty, and Kodak Black. There's an unspoken way of cementing yourself into hip-hop history, and it's never been clear how. There's a need to bridge the gaps and breed unity, though. Producers like Just Blaze and Swizz who have more than embraced the new while continuing to respect the old are still here to help set the trends for what's to come.
It's so easy to forget what these two have accomplished during their careers so far. But if you're a hip-hop head and think back to songs from late 90s through the mid 2000s (and well beyond), you probably can't go very long without mentioning a song they've laid their hands on. Both of these producers have put in SERIOUS work for the culture. Facts.
This wasn't about a win for Just or Swizz, it's much bigger than that. This battle brought together two heavyweight producers and reignited a passion for hip-hop that a lot of fans and even Nas swore had fizzled out. The effect they had on the culture of hip-hop with this momentous live stream is unparalleled in this day and age. We need moments like these to revitalize our love for hip-hop and to, ever so gently, remind us that #HipHopAintDead.