“Thank you. That was my guy, man,” Swizz Beatz said, responding to SWV’s condolences to him and DMX’s family delivered by LeLee during the Triller after-party convo following their epic Verzuz with fellow girl group Xscape. “That’s still my guy. That’s still my dawg. And he loved both of y’all. He loved both of you. He was a singing fool. We talked about this Verzuz because it was on [the schedule] early. DMX don’t even listen to rap. He listens to R&B. He’s tuned in from upstairs and he’s proud. It was a good time tonight.”
Yes, it was a good time, even if it didn’t start off smoothly. Xscape, the girl group from Atlanta with Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” (Cottle) Harris, blood sisters LaTocha and Tamika Scott, superproducer Jermaine Dupri introduced to the world in 1992, looked ready and prepared in their sparkling black ensemble looks (Tamika came with feathers on top and bottom) for this special Mother’s Day treat. SWV, the trio from New York City, the Bronx and Brooklyn, comprised of lead vocalist Cheryl “Coko” Gamble, were also mostly dressed in black, with Taj showing off her stunning legs with jean shorts. Kandi Burruss’s DJ Aone, who kept the waiting crowd plied with the sounds of Atlanta, introduced the ladies of Xscape, while legendary DJ Spinderella, who kept the pre-show grown and sexy, introduced the ladies of SWV on a very upgraded set from previous Verzuz featuring two DJ booths.
“I know everybody thinks this is a battle, but it’s really a celebration,” Tamika Scott said while paying tribute to other 90s girls group, and kicked it off with a prayer. Keeping in the spirit, Xscape started with their cover of “Is My Living in Vain” by the legendary Clark Sisters. SWV followed up with Coko’s cover of The Clark Sisters’ “Endow Me” from her 2006 solo album Grateful.
When the battle got underway, Xscape started with their feature on Keith Sweat’s “Am I Dreaming,” the Atlantic Starr cover, with SWV following with “All Night Long,” written and produced by Babyface for the Waiting To Exhale soundtrack. As the groups continued performing, the crowd of viewers, which would grow to over 450,00 and include many heavy-hitters like Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Snoop Dogg, Trevor Jackson, Marsai Martin, Larenz Tate, Skai Jackson, Tiffany Haddish, and Halle Berry, wondered why SWV would not leave their couch during the first half. They just weren’t bringing the same energy as Xscape and didn’t seem comfortable. That changed slightly with the naughty SWV hit “Downtown,” encouraging men in further explorations of female pleasure. Other pre-intermission highlights included Jermaine Dupri joining Xscape for their classic “Just Kickin’ It” and SWV performing their monster hit, “Right Here,” the Teddy Riley remix sampling Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature,” as well as their tender rendition of “When U Cry,” which LeLee shared regained popularity when it was put to a video honoring the late Kim Porter.
After intermission, the energy changed significantly when the SWV emerged looking way more comfortable in their own branded shirts and sneakers. That energy sent the Verzuz into classic territory. Da Brat joined Xscape to help with “Always Be My Baby,” their duet with the one and only Mariah Carey. As the hits kept coming, so did the special moments. Coko performing her solo hit “Sunshine” with her son Jalen was very heartwarming. She, however, insisted that he would be entering dentistry and not the music industry.
Tiny and Kandi did TLC’s No Scrubs, including a mashup with Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” sampling the song they penned. Of course, Kandi could not resist saying, "you know what that sounds like to me? Check, check, check.” SWV responded with their mammoth Wu-Tang collab “Anything,” where Taj flexed her rapping skills. A bit earlier, they hit with “Rain,” a perennial classic.
The highlight of the evening came at the very end when Xscape performed their stellar cover of The Jones Girls’ “Who Can I Run To?,” with Coko briefly joining in. SWV, however, shut it all the way down with “Weak.” “Waited patiently all night,” wrote La La Anthony, echoing sentiments of the entire audience.
Taking to the stage and using it in pure concert form, SWV sent chatrooms into massive karaoke-like text singalongs. Although Xscape ended with “Understanding,” “Weak” was the ultimate closer to an epic evening from the group of mothers for Mother’s Day.
Now the question is: “Who’s next?” Towards the end of the Triller afterparty, which was a series of conversations with Verzuz partner and fellow producer Timbaland, Swizz Beatz—broadcasting outside his mother-in-law’s 70th birthday party, with wife Alicia Keys briefly popping in—instructed Timbaland to work on getting Missy Elliott, who was also in the audience. So stay tuned!