On Monday night, history was made when two legendary producers and songwriters went head-to-head in the now seminal Verzuz battle series on Instagram Live. It was Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds versus Teddy Riley battling it out with some of their most memorable hits and it was definitely filled with some entertaining moments. Babyface in particular brought out his personality with some subtle trash talk moments that folks will be talking about for years to come.
Getting Babyface and Riley together wasn’t an easy task. Babyface recently tested positive for the coronavirus and he had to make sure his health was in order before hopping on Instagram Live for the battle.
Once the two made it online together this past Saturday, technical difficulties ruined the battle, particularly on Riley’s end. The man came ready with a burgundy tracksuit, a fedora, a set of instruments, a DJ, and a hype man.
But the sound was terrible.
The incident made for some hilarious banter on Black Twitter and the show had to be rescheduled for Monday night at 8 p.m. ET. Once the two legends returned online, they got off to a rough start once again trying to set up the live story. But eventually, things started off well and the show became better with each hit they played.
Teddy began with his “Right Here/Human Nature” remix by SWV while Babyface naturally started off with a slow jam via Toni Braxton‘s “Love Shoulda Brought You Home”. Soon the battle was running full steam with Riley-produced hits like “I Like The Way” by Hi-Five and “Let’s Chill” by Guy, as well as Babyface classics like “Can We Talk” by Tevin Campbell and his very own “Whip Appeal”.
Although both Babyface and Riley both had their fair share of trash talk sprinkled throughout the over two hour face-off, Babyface gave some hilariously shady moments that were classy yet searing.
Most of his trash-talking was no-verbal, considering he had two of his Grammy statues in the background of his studio where he performed. The singer-songwriter has eleven Grammys to his name while Riley has one. At one point, Babyface even pulled out his guitar to perform his song “When Can I See You Again” while Teddy was left to his basic track-playing setup.
Riley also tried to pull a wild card when he played his remix of Janet Jackson‘s “I Get So Lonely”, however, Babyface came with the epic shade asking “Hold on now, did you write that? Did you produce? Is that the remix?” He then added, “I didn’t know remixes counted in this thing…that ain’t a problem anyway because I don’t remix.”
Unfortunately, towards the end of the battle, technical difficulties ruined things once again and folks initially thought it was because of more Riley antics where he didn’t have his set-up troubleshooted. However, later it would be revealed that Instagram crashed due to a reported 4 million viewers total on Instagram, although during any given moment during the live session, the viewers capped in the 500,000 area. Still extremely impressive either way.
The co-creator and organizer of Verzuz, fellow super producer Swizz Beatz, hopped online to celebrate. He posted a screen capture of a message from Instagram Communications reading, “We love how much you’re all enjoying the #TeddyRileyvBabyface Live on Instagram! We’re experiencing some technical difficulties on mobile but we’re working on it. In the meantime, live is available on desktop!” Swizz captioned the photo, “4mill plus tonight ! #verzuz we made history and crashed the internet !!!!! Thx so much to the culture!!”
The other Verzuz co-creator, super producer Timbaland, also reposted the Instagram Comms message, writing, “There you have it!!!!!! 4 mil plus.”
During the technical difficulties, Babyface continued to deliver subtle trash talk by pulling out his guitar once again to perform. At one point, he even said he was going to play his “white songs” now. Eventually, he started performing his song “Change the World” by Eric Clapton. You can’t help but stan a crossover king.
At least, Riley was able to get to his keyboard once he restarted on his personal Instagram Live, and he bust out a few tunes himself.
Eventually, the two had to end the battle on their own pages because of the technical difficulties and they definitely left with a bang. Babyface capped off the night with a mashup of his iconic songs “Count On Me” by Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans and the Mariah Carey and Houston song “When You Believe”. Meanwhile, Riley ended the night with Blackstreet‘s party anthem “No Diggity”.
It was definitely a night to remember. Until the next Verzuz battle.