Quarantining, a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic, has created an opportunity for artists to connect with their fans in more organic ways. Particularly through online concerts and, another futuristic form of entertainment: Instagram live battles.
And many of these battles are coming from unexpected places.
Though much of the spotlight goes to the artists whose visions they support, writers and producers have been the backbone of the music industry for decades. In the early 1990s, Diddy and Jermaine Dupri dominated charts with their rap and R&B production, and have influenced a generation of producers to both create magic and spot talent. Diddy was an instrumental force for the careers of Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, and Biggie, while Jermaine Dupri supported Xscape and Da Brat.
Over the years, major talents, like Pharrell and The-Dream, have come to be celebrated for their standalone works. But we still have a ways to go before songwriters and producers get their just due. But Instagram live battles are changing that.
Terius “The-Dream” Nash in particular has spoken about his status as a hidden gem. Jay Z has called The-Dream a “secret weapon,” and his imprint can be seen in the careers of artists like Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Kanye West.
During a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Nash said “My influence is everywhere. You know when you’re touching people. You know when you’re getting certain phone calls…Even down to the youngest new guy, Lil Yachty, hitting me saying, ‘Yo, let’s do a record together.'”
Over the weekend, Nash battled Sean Garrett.
These musical standoffs pull on the history of hip-hop itself. The genre is rooted in public battles of skill and often have a clear winner.
Rap battles don’t have a traceable beginning, but it’s obvious that these back and forths contribute to the competitive nature hip-hop is famous for. This spirit is maintained in the recent producer and songwriter battles.
These recent head-to-heads are finally giving producers and songwriters the attention they deserve.
Watch a few of the major battles below.
Timbaland vs. Swizz Beatz
Ne-Yo vs. Johntá Austin
Hit Boi vs. Boi1da
The-Dream vs. Sean Garrett