Verzuz returned for its third season premiere last night with a battle royale between soul brothers Anthony Hamilton and Musiq Soulchild. The pair stepped into the arena and onto the stage at Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles to engage in some friendly competition, a little trash talking and a whole lot of singing. And when it came down to the singing, well, Anthony easily bested Musiq whose vocals were struggling for most of the evening.
Another area where Hamilton ran away with the competition was with his surprise guests. Although Musiq brought out Robert Glasper on piano to perform Black Radio favorite “Ah Yeah” (minus Chrisette Michele) and Lucky Daye to sing his “Halfcrazy”-sampling song “Over,” it was no match for AHam’s arsenal.
The first surprise came when Jermaine Dupri was seen behind the turntables serving as Anthony’s DJ, which should have clued us in that this was a game of chess not checkers. Next up were The Hamiltones who blessed the festivities with their tight three-part harmonies on backgrounds on “Can’t Let Go.” A couple of songs later, Big V formerly of the group Nappy Roots joined Anthony for “Po’ Folks.” It was the next group of surprise artists, however, that truly took things to the next level.
Anthony gave the Verzuz audience a hint when he told Musiq, “I’m bout to teach you a lesson.” He repeated himself a couple of times, but the reference was so subtle that it went over everyone’s heads. But when the first few notes of Eric Roberson‘s “Lessons (Remix)” began to play, and we subsequently heard Erro’s voice, the crowd went wild as he walked onto the stage followed closely by Raheem DeVaughn and Kevin Ross.
The four singers proceeded to sing their verses on the “Lessons (Remix)” with the very first live performance of the single and gave fans a mini-concert. The fellas sang the whole song and showed out with their chemistry and vocal skill. This performance effectively shut Verzuz down. Even Musiq had to come over to dap everyone up and give props where props were due. It was game over at that point, but Anthony was nowhere near done.
A few songs later, he reminded the audience that early in his career he was an accomplished songwriter of a song that became a ’90s R&B classic. He told the uninformed that the song was Donell Jones‘ jam “U Know What’s Up,” and the next thing we knew Donell was on stage with AHam in his party shirt. That was another mic drop moment for Hamilton. At the rate he was going, we wouldn’t have been surprised if he had brought out Left Eye to spit her hot 16.
After all that, Anthony still had one more artist waiting in the wings. He brought out Leela James to join him to sing their “Complicated (The Remix)” duet. The two of them were quite entertaining while giving frisky auntie and uncle. The only artist who was MIA was Jadakiss, but by the time AHam played their song “Why” as one of his selections, this night was already in the bag.
Anthony Hamilton did not come to Verzuz to play, and neither did Musiq Soulchild, to be honest. Hamilton may have come out on top when it came to vocals, surprise guests, wardrobe and stage presence, but Musiq’s stacked catalog was incredibly impressive and he barely dug in his crates. If we had to choose a winner, the clear victor of this Verzuz matchup was the culture once again.
Watch Anthony, Erro, Raheem and Kevin’s exciting live performance of the “Lessons (Remix)” on Verzuz below. An official music video for the song has been filmed, so expect to see more of this talented supergroup on your screens soon.