Swizz Beatz and Timbaland have been praised for giving a lot of people a much needed diversion from COVID-19 with “Verzuz,” the online competition between artists they started earlier this year. But the pat on the back they received quickly turned into condemnation after dancehall legends Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, who participated in one of the most talked about showdowns, were left off a newly released Billboard cover.
People gave various reasons why they believe Beenie and Bounty being excluded from the cover is nothing short of an injustice.
For one, both artists have long reached iconic status in the Caribbean and other parts of the world. They’ve also been credited with dramatically improving the “Verzuz” format with their own battle, which took place on May 23. Many call that particular “Verzuz” competition the best yet.
Swizz shared the new Billboard cover to his Instagram page, Monday, Aug. 10, which shows him and Timbaland in front of various “Verzuz” participants, including Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Snoop Dogg, DMX, John Legend, Babyface and Teddy Riley.
Others who were in battles, like RZA and DJ Premier, weren’t on the cover, but most had a problem with Beenie and Bounty being left off.
“A whole magazine with no Beenie Man or Bounty Killer, when it was the best Verzuz to date… speaks volumes,” someone wrote underneath Swizz’s post.
“Sad that @billboard left @kingbeenieman @grunggaadzilla … show some respect to two of the ppl that had the entire world tuned in,” another person commented.
That person referenced the over 3.2 million views of Beenie and Bounty’s “Verzuz” battle, which drew more eyes than other much anticipated showdowns.
To compare, the battle between rappers 2 Chainz and Rick Ross, which took place on Aug. 6, had a little over 1 million total viewers, according to numbers released on the Verzuz Instagram page, while Snoop Dogg and DMX had 2 million total viewers when the squared off on July 22.
Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, who have a history of putting on sound clashes onstage, changed the format of “Verzuz” by appearing in the same location to battle each other while performing.
Before that, artists simply played their songs from individual locations, without performing, often just sitting in front a computer. Undoubtedly, Beenie and Bounty made the battles more engaging and gave fans a lot more to enjoy.
Swizz eventually responded to the backlash, explaining to one person that Beenie and Bounty received full-page write-ups in Billboard. But others said anything besides placing them on the cover is disrespectful.
One person in particular who sent a message to Swizz Beatz was Grammy-winning dancehall and reggae producer Walshy Fire.
“Front page with no @kingbeenieman and @grunggaadzilla,” wrote Fire in the comments.
Probably recognizing the outcry, Swizz posted another Billboard cover that honored “Verzuz,” which showed Beenie Man and Bounty Killer instead of Swizz and Timbaland. But that cover wasn’t posted by Billboard on its Instagram page, so it appears the official cover is the same one without Beenie and Bounty on it.
“To our fans, while we are honored that Verzuz made the cover of Billboard, this would not have been possible without Beenie Man & Bounty Killer who set a big tone for our audience and represented for Jamaica, 🙏🏽🙏🏽,” he wrote. “Thank You Billboard for the acknowledgement but, we feel this version of the cover best represents THE VERZUZ EFFECT.”
Timbaland only posted the version of the cover that shows Beenie and Bounty, so it seems more of the criticism fell on Swizz but some did come the Virginia producer’s way, and Billboard was also slammed.
“The Dancehall one was probably the most entertaining and a game changer after that one they change the format and they didn’t make cover can dancehall get some love,” one person commented on the magazine’s Instagram page.