Brandy and Monica (featuring Kamala Harris) make Verzuz battle history
It took R&B powerhouses Brandy and Monica decades to sit and talk face to face. And when they did on Monday, they served up a heavy helping of ’90s nostalgia, sisterhood, banter, clapbacks and celebrity cameos as they squared off during their highly anticipated Verzuz battle.
The showdown, which took place on Instagram Live and Apple TV, showcased the Grammy winners’ impressive catalogs and put to rest their media-fueled feud with talk of a joint tour and getting their own TV show. It had been at least eight years since the two had been in the same room together.
The nearly three-hour session peaked at a little more than 1.2 million viewers and broke Verzuz’s viewership record. Their battle was a star-studded affair too, with Snoop Dogg, Lizzo, Queen Latifah and Michelle Obama dropping in on their reunion, which Brandy and Monica closed out by singing “The Boy Is Mine,” their catty, Grammy-winning 1998 hit. (Watch it at the 2-hour-55-minute mark above.)
“We have so much to give ... I have the utmost love and respect and love for you. Even at the times I seemed like I didn’t,” Brandy told Monica, giving her props, especially “for someone who started at 12 years old.” The “Brokenhearted” and “What About Us?” singer in turn praised Monica’s confidence and swag.
Monica, whose hits include “Don’t Take it Personal” and “Angel of Mine,” accepted the love, and the theme of sisterhood continued from there, even during awkward moments in conversation and tense disagreements. (Brandy apologized for blasting Monica’s “good behavior” when the latter mentioned her history of “kicking in doors and smashing chairs.”)
“The timing of this couldn’t be more perfect,” Brandy added. “People need this music. People need to see us together. People need to see unity and a celebration. I’m just honored to be sitting here next to you.”
The women kicked off the program with a tribute to “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman, who died last week after a private battle with colon cancer.
“The level of devastation that we all have experienced in the past year is unprecedented. We could not have forseen it. ... We pray that we can just bring a little bit of joy by acknowledging the music and the arts because he was a man that was dedicated to the arts,” Monica said.
R&B singers Brandy and Monica will reunite for a Verzuz battle Monday night, 22 years after their massive hit, “The Boy Is Mine.” Here’s how to watch.
Brandy began the 20 rounds playing her 2002 hit “What About Us?” to which Monica countered with “Everything to Me,” and so it went for hours. The artists appeared in person at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta and, early on, were briefly joined by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who dropped in to plug former First Lady Michelle Obama’s work for When We All Vote. Proceeds from merchandise sales would benefit the organization.
“I just wanted to thank you ladies, you queens, you stars,” Harris said via video. “Thank you for doing this for When We All Vote. It’s so important for everyone. You both used your voice in such a powerful way, and an extension of our voices is our vote.”
Harris, who wore a Howard University T-shirt, said she was a huge fan of both singers and said that she would be singing and dancing along with them throughout the night. Brandy said she was “fan-girling” over the moment.
She wasn’t the only famous face watching: Obama also chimed in several times in the comments section, supporting the women and reminding viewers to register to vote. Other blue-check users included Verzuz founders Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, as well as Lizzo, Viola Davis, Lena Waithe, Queen Latifah, Solange Knowles, Awkwafina, Snoop Dogg, Saweetie, Nas, 2 Chainz, Jermaine Dupri, Meek Mill and more.
Snoop Dogg was among those who called out the singers — both of whom got their start in their early teens — for not actually singing live much during the battle.
“I’m gonna need y’all to use those microphones And sang live. Please,” wrote the rapper, who participated in a battle with DMX earlier this year.
At one point, Brandy recited a few verses from Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which has been covered by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Al Green, and encouraged Monica to join in. She declined so she could give Brandy her “moment.”
The two later harmonized on Monica’s “Sideline Ho,” a hilarious moment during which viewers — and FLOTUS — were asked to cover their ears.
Monica also dropped a new song, “Trenches,” during the session.
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