Over the past week, the idea of collaboration has taken on a different meaning for many artists, producers, and songwriters.
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, Hit-Boy and Boi1da, Sean Garrett and The-Dream and Johnta Austin and Ne-Yo hopped on Instagram Live to engage in virtual bouts of friendly competition. Each revealed some of the most popular songs they wrote or produced in an attempt to one-up the other. For viewers at home, the competitions pulled back the curtain on the creative masterminds behind some of hip-hop and R&B’s most popular songs in the last 20 years. The songs listed below are only a few of the dozens showcased during each live stream.
Timbaland vs. Swizz Beatz
Versatility was the overarching theme between Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. On March 24, the two set the competitive precedent for the digital beat battles in the days to follow with a head-to-head matchup of their production catalog from their near-30 year careers. Timbaland, who is ’s resume ranges from smooth R&B cuts with Aaliyah (“One in A Million” and “I Miss You”) to chart-topping hip-hop singles with Jay-Z (“Dirt Off Your Shoulder” and “Big Pimpin’”). Beatz elevated rap culture with DMX (“Rufff Ryders” and “Party Up (Up in Here)”) just as much as he permeated the R&B/pop space alongside Beyonce (“Upgrade U” and “Check On It”).
- Bryson Tiller – “Sorry Not Sorry”
- Justin Timberlake – “Cry Me a River”
- Omarion – “Ice Box”
- Lil Wayne – “Uproar”
- Kanye West – “Famous”
- Angie Stone – “Wish I Didn’t Miss You”
Hit-Boy vs. Boi1da
On March 27, the virtual showdown billed as “The beat battle you don’t wanna miss” brought over 15,000 viewers, with onlookers such as Kevin Durant, Timbaland, and Drake sprinkling in comments. Over the past decade, both producers found immense commercial success, collaborating alongside Justin Bieber, Drake, and Kanye West. During their digital beat battle, Boi1da included snippets of an unreleased Drake and Roddy Ricch cut. Hit-Boy flaunted a vaulted track featuring Nipsey Hussle and Big Sean.
- Rihanna – “Woo”
- ASAP Rocky – “1Train”
- Beyonce – “Sorry”
- Rihanna – “Work”
- J. Cole – “Deja Vu”
- Drake – “Best I Ever Had”
Sean Garrett vs. The-Dream
Nearly 40,000 viewers tuned in to watch two of the most dynamic songwriters brandish their catalogs on March 28. But in addition to earning their stripes as major behind the scenes players, both The-Dream and Sean Garrett were once artists, too. The-Dream boasts mid-2000s hits like “Falsetto” and “Shawty is the S***.” Garrett’s discography includes “Feel Love” featuring J. Cole and a guest appearance on Gucci Mane’s “Break Up.” Over 38,000 viewers tuned into their virtual showcase, including Usher, Wiz Kahlifa, and Hitboy.
- Chris Brown – “Wall to Wall”
- Beyonce – “Upgrade U”
- Usher – “Yeah”
- Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake – “Holy Grail”
- Beyonce – “Single Ladies”
- Beyonce – “Dance for You”
Johnta Austin vs. Ne-Yo
Ne-Yo took to Instagram on March 29 to ask fans if they would tune into a songwriter’s competition with Johnta Austin.
Austin logged into the Instagram Live session donning a white button-down and black blazer, while Ne-Yo comfortably sported a black beanie and hoodie. Austin boasts credits for Mariah Carey (“We Belong Together”) and Mary J. Blige (“Be With You”). Ne-Yo’s resume lists Mario (“Let Me Love You”) and Beyonce (“Irreplaceable”) as collaborators.
- Chris Brown – “Yo (Excuse Me Miss)”
- Bow Wow & Chris Brown – “Shortie Like Mine”
- Bryson Tiller – “Don’t”
- Rihanna – “Unfaithful”
- Keri Hilson – “Knock You Down”
- Plies – “Bust It Baby”