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VIBE / Jessica Xie

Madame Gandhi On The Intersectionality Of Feminism And Why "The Future Is Female"

"It's about living in a world where we value femininity, but we value being collaborative and being emotionally intelligent."

According Madame Gandhi, the future is female. She says this with pride and confidence as she arrives at VIBE's headquarters, greeting everyone in her signature style of bright neon colors.

Born Kiran Gandhi, the musician-activist grew up between New York City and Bombay, India. Coming up, she always had a strong appreciation for hip-hop and played the drums since the tender age of eight. After working for Interscope records as their first full time digital analyst and attending Harvard Business School, she scored a gig as “Paper Planes” singer M.I.A.’s drummer before eventually going solo.

The Los Angeles native’s work as an activist stands as tall as her music. A champion of women's rights, she speaks around the country educating women and young girls on combating sexism in the music business, getting involved in music technology, and women’s health and hygiene. One of her most notable claims to fame was her participation in the 2015 London Marathon as she was “free bleeding” while running the 26-mile circuit. The famous photo of her sprinting across the finish line with her friends Ana and Mere soon went viral, which helped spark a conversation of women’s hygiene and having the proper access to feminine hygiene products such as tampons.

“I honestly didn’t know what to do. I knew that I was lucky to have access to tampons, to be part of a society that at least has a norm around periods. I could definitely choose to participate in this norm at the expense of my own comfort and just deal with it quietly,” wrote Madame Gandhi in an essay about her experience during the marathon.

“But then I thought…If there’s one person society can’t eff with, it’s a marathon runner. You can’t tell a marathoner to clean themselves up, or to prioritize the comfort of others. I decided to just take some Midol, hope I wouldn’t cramp, bleed freely and just run. A marathon in itself is a centuries old symbolic act. Why not use it as a means to draw light to my sisters who don’t have access to tampons and, despite cramping and pain, hide it away like it doesn’t exist?” she begged.

As a musician, Madame Gandhi is truly a unique and highly creative artist that could be considered a musical alchemist. On her Voices EP, she brilliantly weaves hip-hop, electronic, pop and a variety of other genres with her feminism and social stance to create an emotional, resonating project that effectively captures the beauty of femininity. Although the ride is short, she captivates listeners on a musical journey through feminism and why someday the future will be female.

“To me, the future is female is about living in a world where we value femininity, but we value being collaborative and being emotionally intelligent,” she explained.

Performing at music festivals across the country as a solo artist while drumming for alternative R&B artist Quin, the "Her" singer manages to find some time to chop it up with VIBE about her Voices project and other new music, what the slogan "The Future Is Female" really means, being a woman in the industry and why there aren’t enough women in music technology.

VIBE: One of the songs that stood out to me on your Voices EP was the song “Her." What's the inspiration behind that message?
Madame Gandhi: Well, it was the song I’ve made in the quickest amount of time. That song was probably made in 48 hours where we laid down the beat, me and my friend Alexia, who co-produced it with me. I knew exactly in my head what I wanted the beat to be. She was super encouraging and was like, “Just go into the sound booth and start laying down some ideas.” It was the first take and we used it.

The idea behind that song is women are constantly underestimated and pushed around. We take it because we’ve grown up being used to that almost, being passed over for opportunities or people not thinking we’re as good at reaching our fullest potential as we are. It’s kind of as a warning, it’s like, “Look past your prejudices and appoint her! Put the women on in your life, give them a chance because we’re going to do an extraordinary job.” But then then when the sirens come in when the drum solo comes in, and the aggression comes in it’s like, “Naw, now you’ve crossed the line. Now you’ve completely underestimated us, you’ve threatened us, you caused us oppression and harassment, we’re out." And not only are we out, we’re going to go start our own amazing, alternative parallel universe.

And "Gandhi Blues?" What was the writing process like for that song?
You know, I had to travel [around that time]. It was in the fall of 2015 and I was dating somebody I was really into, I was smitten over this person. I remember having to travel two or three weeks at a time because I was being asked to speak at colleges and universities about menstrual health and hygiene, about women’s equality, about the election coming up, about Donald Trump’s sexism… and obviously, my work is so important to me. But I also felt a deep sense of sadness that I had to keep leaving my own personal life and having to feel like I had to choose.

“Gandhi Blues” obviously references Mahatma Gandhi, who was known for being the father of his own country and liberating India from the British, but was also heavily criticized for being a terrible family man, for not being wonderful to his wife and his kids. That trade and that decision is so difficult for so many activists. If you look at Nina Simone’s life, I share a birthday with her, she’s long known for being in abusive relationships and having to choose between her career and her personal life. So “Gandhi Blues” was a vulnerable song, where I wanted to be honest about how I feel with that stuff. How I wonder if I’ll ever have a full-time partner in my life just because of how my life has been and the constant movement and changes that has to happen for me to do my work.

This idea about being a feminist often paints a very aggressive and angry picture of women or those who have the belief of gender equality. I really wanted "Gandhi Blues" to be in the middle of the album, track three, to say that my brand of feminism is about celebrating our fullest spectrum of our humanity and that the people who do this best tend to be women. Men in society are not allowed to show the fullest spectrum of their personality, but women are and we often get criticized for it. You’re too emotional, you’re too needy. I think emotional strength and vulnerability are some of the most powerful things you can have. So I wanted that song to be there to say you’ll hear me rapping and talking about women’s equality and you’ll also hear me heartbroken and missing a lover like many of us had in our pasts.

It seems like those who follow their dreams eventually must sacrifice love. Do you aspire to have more of that at some point?
That’s such a good question and if I could figure out a beautiful and healthy balance between love and my career, then I would have achieved something really big and too would be able to set an example for others. But to be honest, most men were able to pursue their career and the woman was expected to marry her man and follow him wherever his career took him. He didn’t have to make that trade off, he had the love of his life and he also had his career. Women are the ones expected to make the sacrifice, y’know?

Now we’re living in a world where many young women are accessing the same levels of education and job opportunities as their male counterparts, but obviously, we’re not telling men, “Go sacrifice your career and be with the love of your life," because we want everybody to have access to having a healthy balance of both. So I suppose one of the biggest challenges for women today is how can you balance your career with your love life, and if I could figure it out it would be a good example for the next generation of young women.

What was one of the most important lessons you learned while working for Interscope?
I give Interscope records hella credit, which is why I dressed conservatively and just did my work. I really did my work and I did good work. I stayed there 'til late, I spent so much time with the numbers on Spotify and YouTube, I was such a young hustler. I would deliver reports to my boss early. I would say, “Look at these patterns that I found between Kendrick Lamar’s album sales and Spotify streams. I would notice that when rappers get arrested for something or when the blogs would go crazy for a rapper, the Spotify streams would go through the roof but the YouTube views wouldn’t be as strong—just interesting patterns.

I was really focused on doing extraordinary work and allowing the work to lead. I had a lot of support from those who I worked with at Interscope and while I do believe that sexism and prejudice exist in the industry, especially for women who tend to present even more feminine, I think that often is a blessing and a curse for them because you can use your femininity to get ahead if you’re working with a lot of different men because men can be easily manipulated by sex and beauty.

I intentionally would dial down my femininity, beauty and wear playful, childish or conservative clothing and deliver good work. That was kind of the thing I learned during my time there. It’s an annoying sacrifice that women must make, but it was kind of effective in me winning the team at Interscope and me having not only having Steve Berman, but Brooke Michael write my recommendation letter for Harvard. And to have so many people in the office support me when I went to go drum for M.I.A. Instead of saying it’s a conflict of interest, they were my cheerleaders.

Why don't we see enough women involved in music technology?
From a young age, I think women are socialized [to believe] that they’re going to be more valued for their looks. You give one gender 24 hours in a day and you also give the other 24 hours in a day, but society is telling one gender, “Okay, but you better make sure your legs are shaved and you better make sure you have some makeup, and you better make sure your hair is done, and you better make sure you have a nice manicure." Then whether she realizes it or not, she’s spending 25 extra minutes in the shower, 40 minutes each week to get her hair done at the salon, an hour and a half to get her nails done, let’s just put it all together and say five to ten hours a week just on looks alone. That’s five to ten hours that the boys are putting in playing on their computers, watching YouTube tutorials on how to use Ableton, getting better at mathematics, getting better at their drums.

Overtime, one gender is far surpassing the other gender in terms of their capabilities and skill set. By the time it comes to apply for jobs and opportunities, boys tend to be better and far more ahead of the game because over time they became more comfortable as kids with learning tech and having more access to that than girls. I find it [to be] a really difficult battle because I do enjoy being beautiful, of course. Anyone does, we’re only human. But I think men don’t have to put such a disproportionate amount of time each week on their looks as women have to. So that’s one huge, huge part of it from childhood.

The second part is that I do think a lot of it comes from the men who are still in power to hire women, who choose who gets the role and I do think there are levels of unconscious bias. Not only when it comes to sexism, but it also comes into racism, homophobia and trans-phobia where we think certain people, based on how they look, are more qualified for a job than others. That takes a lot of work, to undo years and years of sexism and racism and homophobia in this country. But I do think that the more—if we even had one person of making it to these top levels, if we had one woman make it to these top levels, I do think she or they or he has a responsibility to see to it that those biases are counterbalanced and more people of diverse backgrounds get hired.

Is that one of your objectives when you include young, women artists of color on stage with you at your shows?
Definitely! I thought that I was going to go to Harvard Business School, graduate and go work at Spotify and be someone of the music industry, responsible for change on the inside. But I’m glad you’re asking me these questions because one thing I’ve been recently saying that I believe more and more, is I’m actually less interested in people of color, women or various marginalized groups applying into these “bro-y” tech cultures. Instead, I want us to just go start our own thing. I want to see women start their own music tech companies that deliver extraordinary value to the communities they serve. Or men, people of color, trans people or queer communities starting their own tech companies to make the world a better place.

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Do you have any new music on the way?
Hell yeah! I have a song inspired by Fela Kuti called "Bad Habits." I have another inspired by a Brazilian trap artist out in São Paulo called Topknot Turn Up, which is about women putting their hair up in a bun and getting their work done. I have a song that I’m about to finish in Detroit, it’s a total lover’s song. It’s about just being so inspired by your lover and just being with them and not really tripping about the rest of the world. So those are the three that I’m most excited about.

How did you first get into music and even playing the drums at such a young age?
I loved music since I was three or four-years-old, because I love pop culture. I grew up in Manhattan, and the bus used to come pull up in front of my parents’ house. I had this amazing funky, black bus driver whose name was Harrison. Harrison would play classical music when he would go and pick up all the kids in front of parents, and as soon as we pulled away, he would change it back to the hip-hop station, Hot 97. We would be in the back, just kids, learning all the rap songs.

He would mute words like the n-word or the f-word, because they kind of felt bad, but at the same time he was like, “Kids, this is educational. You need to know what’s going on in the world." We would listen to Nas, we would listen to all that. Illmatic was poppin’ at that time. I just remember falling in love with it and I loved that I wasn’t allowed to listen to it because my parents were Indian, they were naïve. It was the Clinton era, [Bill] Clinton had a whole campaign against black America and [promoted] mass incarceration and so he scared a lot of people into believing that there was so much horrible gang culture. That made me love it even more, because it felt like truth. I think that was my first foray into music. It’s that it represented something people weren’t talking about, but that felt honest. That showed me another part of life in New York that I didn’t know about.

The drums were a different story. Whether I play this symbol, that symbol, no one gives a f**k. It’s liberating and I also know it was rebellious for a girl to be playing drums. I felt there was enormous power in it and most people didn’t play drums, so I already felt like as a 10-year-old, I was getting gigs. [Laughs]

Why be independent and handle everything on your own?
I think my dad was good about making us independent. We lived in New York City so he would teach me how to buy a subway card and then force me to go and run the card myself even though I was seven or eight-years old and he could have just easily bought it for us. Just small, street smart skill sets and he was big on us taking initiative. My parents used to use that word a lot and I was the oldest [of three children] so I got that a lot.

How do you go about weaving feminism into your music?
I only care about feminism and music, so it’s easy to weave them. But I will say that one challenge that sometimes I talk about is that I’m a very cerebral person and sometimes cerebral speaking doesn’t have swag to it. So you can’t be bumping hella cerebral s**t while people are just trying to smoke and have a good time and drive around in their car. I think a challenge I’m facing right now is how do I take my intelligence and my confidence in my ability to speak about these issues very well and still put it into a seamless, musical body of work that’s accessible. I find that to be very challenging.

Explain…
If make something super simple I don’t feel like it’s authentic to me and then if I make it hella complicated, no one’s trying to play it in a club. No one is trying to f**k to feminism. I mean, I wanna live in that world. [Laughs]

A post shared by Kiran Gandhi (@madamegandhi) on

That’s legit. In a perfect world, “Her” would be a modern slow jam, because it’s so sensual.
Exactly! One other thing I’d like to say is that my message is about celebrating femininity in every person, because each of us came from a man and from a woman. We have both male and female energy, it’s just that we live in a society where we value masculinity more than we value femininity and it’s so bad that we use it as an insult, like calling someone a “pussy." Pussy is not an insult, pussy is divine and open and a combination of things, and so many things can go in and out of it, it’s a completely divine organ. We say “have a pair of balls,” but if you even lightly tap a pair of balls they’re completely in pain! So how did that even happen? That’s one thing, if we’re really going to look at anatomy.

The other thing I wanted to say is that my most joyful conversations when it comes to race and gender in America particularly are always with black men, because black men have experienced oppression when it comes to racism and therefore have the empathy to have a conversation intelligently with women to at least have the sense to put themselves in a woman’s shoes to understand what the oppression might feel like. But if you talk to someone who's never experienced systemic oppression in their life, like potentially a straight cisgender white man, it’s very difficult for them to even believe the kinds of sexism or racism we experience daily, just from looks on the street, to walking into a store, or even simply existing.

Two of the things that I believe hinders a lot of us men of color from being better toward our women is that we have “tunnel vision,” where we knowingly or unknowingly get so caught up in our struggles that we neglect yours, and for others we often fall victim to drinking the proverbial heteropatriarchal Kool-Aid.
I love that you just said that because while I could blame men for it. I want men to take more responsibility, but I do think that if you experienced oppression and then someone gives you power, you are so clinging to that power. If I give you racial oppression, but then I give you sexual power over women, you’re gonna want to take it because it’s the only power we’re giving you in this f**ked up hierarchical society. That’s the reason why black men have stood on the shoulders of black women for so long. It shouldn’t be acceptable and because of the very empathy we’re talking about, you would think that a lot of men would undo it, but I do think that’s why black men have a larger capacity to not contribute to further sexism than white men.

The ranking system is the problem and that’s the concept of “The Future is Female” for me. It’s about women being treated the way we deserve to be treated but more than that, it’s this idea that male energy tends to rank things like, for me to win you must lose and it’s a game, it’s about ego and competitiveness. Obviously, we all need a little of that because that’s motivation, but we’re too far in the extreme of that to where we’re just killing people and raping the earth.

It’s this whole Donald Trump hetero-hyper masculinity thing, it’s very dark. And to me, if you go all the way on the other side, the feminine, instead of the world being ranked, what if the world was linked? Like, you have a skillset, I have a skillset, we come together, one plus one equals 11 now and not two. Where we each can contribute to the joy of delivering value to someone else. I wish we were judged and ranked if anything, based on how much joy and value we are contributing to others, but that to me is the hyper-feminine side of the spectrum.

I also think that this idea that women are too emotional—I think if you go on the hyper side, of course. Can we let our emotions color our vision, 100 percent! But that’s part of our journey as women when to use our emotions for good versus when we must play them down and use logic and reason. But men have the same thing and we don’t criticize men for it, it’s called ego! The male ego is one of the most powerful and destructive forces on earth. It’s the reason we have war, it’s the reason presidents like Donald Trump get elected, because when men go too far on their emotional side of the spectrum it’s called ego and it's contributing to the darkness of the earth. That’s what men and women can learn from each other. Women can learn from men, but men can also learn from the women in terms of being a little more emotionally intelligent, how to manage that ego and how to be more self-disciplined.

At the Pitchfork Festival earlier this year, you gave an excerpt from Gabrielle Gamboa's essay "New Rites of Transition," featured in The Feminist Utopia Project. How did that book inspire you?
I ran the London Marathon, free bleeding in 2015, and this woman in LA compiled this book, found me and gave it to me as a gift. That whole year after that story went viral, so many wonderful people throughout the world were mailing me gifts and/or meeting up in person and giving me something, so I got exposed to a lot of work. But that particular one, I loved how simple the message was and it’s almost heartbreaking. A feminist utopia is just where a girl feels like she can leave her home safely? That’s the f**king utopia?! Damn!

People think that a feminist utopia is that men are dying, women are royalty, blah blah blah. She’s like, “I want to leave the house without someone making fun of my ambition. I want to leave the house feeling safe in my own body. I want to leave the house feeling free and safe enough to voice my own opinion when I have an opinion. It’s like, damn that’s the utopia? Damn! I’m getting emotional just thinking about it, because it makes me so mad. That’s why I picked that piece, because it’s also so humbling and illuminating what we’re talking about.

What’s your relationship with M.I.A. like today?
We haven’t really spoken [in a while]. We did the tour in 2013 and 2014, and I remember when I was in Brazil in 2014 until maybe the top of 2015, I hit her up and I was just telling her I was traveling. She was like, “It’s so wonderful to hear from you, Brazil is amazing, you’re going to love it. Record music while you’re there," which I did. But yeah, I played Pitchfork with her in 2013 and I got to play Pitchfork as Madame Gandhi in 2017, and it felt like a beautiful growth moment.

Beyond just my relationship with M.I.A., I think the best thing for me that came out of that tour, which I’m only realizing many years later as an adult, is how much I learned when it came to management because I was very dialed in and I’m always very intellectually curious so I wasn’t really paying attention to the fans and that kind of thing. I was more like, how are they managing the tour buses, how are they managing the flights, the hotels, the sound check, the transportation, the in-ear monitors, the mix, the life. What’s appropriate? Are you allowed to change the set list? That is what really inspired me from that tour, because I took everything from that tour and applied it to my own managing skills.

One of the more prominent conversations in and out of the feminist community are transgender individuals. As a feminist, do you consider trans-women to be women? Why or why not?
Of course, 100 percent. Anyone who wants to be female, you’re completely welcome to claim your femininity. Obviously, feminists of the past have been trans-misogynistic, because we often feel the need to say, “No, we’re going to tackle the women issue, and then the gay issue, or then the trans issue, and then the color issue." You can’t do that because all of these identities are complete, as we say now, intersectional and they’re all related to each other. And that’s why feminism also got such a bad reputation from other women, because it was exclusionary and we are absolutely not talking about that in 2017. A fourth wave feminist message is 100 percent inclusive and it's celebratory of femininity in all of us.

I would also add that I rep “The Future is Female” and many criticize it for being trans-misogynistic because A: female refers to anatomy, which maybe someone doesn’t have even though they claim their own femininity. And B: because the person who started it in the 1970s did have a trans-misogynistic background where she wasn’t interested in including members of the trans community. I am a firm believer in new generations ascribing new meaning to phrases that have political relevance and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do. To me, “The Future is Female” is about living in a world where we value femininity, but we value being collaborative and being emotionally intelligent. We value feminine traits and if anything, the transgender community has been light years ahead of this message. So for me or for anyone to exclude anyone from the transgender community, it would be completely asinine given that they’re the ones who have been brave enough to carry this message long before many feminists themselves.

Catch Madame Gandhi's upcoming performance with Quin at Afropunk on Aug. 26.

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Beats, Blackness, and Revolution: A Conversation With Jay Versace

Jay Versace doesn’t care who you thought he was. He never has, and never will. Since his influencer ascension through comedic skits via the now-defunct social media platform, Vine, in 2016, Jay has used his platform to amplify Black spirituality, Black creativity, and Black mental health. Through sharing resources to his large following on social media, he’s continuing to do so even now amid these trying times. One of the several things that he’s been doing to help maintain his inner peace as the country is enthralled in protest has been producing music.

Versace made his first beat in May of 2018, and it was actually met with contention from fans who were only familiar with his comedic side. “When I tweeted I was trying to make music, so many people were like, ‘This is what this is gonna sound like,’ and were sending the craziest gifs and memes and I was like, ‘Damn, y'all really think I have no taste,’” he says when recounting the first time he shared his music on social media. “(Laughs) It was very intense and overwhelming, but I was like you know what, f**k them and kept doing it, kept trying.” And he did exactly that, fine-tuned his beat-making craft by digging into the soulful music he was raised on. Thus, the biggest testament to his growth as a producer has definitely been his early 2020 appearance on Buffalo, New York rapper and Griselda collective member Westside Gunn’s latest critically acclaimed album Pray for Paris, where his beat on the self-titled track “Versace” found him in the production credits next to rap royalty like DJ Premier and Tyler, The Creator. Since this major moment in his music career, Jay has been active in both the studio and on the Internet, spreading awareness about Black rights.

There have been a lot of performative activism surrounding the most recent protests against police brutality following the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black folk in this country. Brands—and some white allies alike—have cleared their conscience with a lukewarm effort, a solid week of Instagram story reshares of burning cop cars and picket signs, and empty PR promises to “stand by the Black community.” Jay recognizes this and believes white allies need to protest in their own communities first before leaving to go protest in others’. “They go to our neighborhood to protest their neighborhood (Laughs). Like, nah, go to your neighborhood to protest. That’s why I really want to see white people using their own in their own spaces that we can’t get to because of their privilege.”

Jay always speaks his mind across his social media platforms, and he remains jovial, yet candid in our conversation about his criticism on certain people profiting from Black culture and the Black plight. His stance is very clear: if you profit off the Black dollar, then you have an obligation to speak up for Black rights. “You have to realize, if you benefit off the Black community, this is how you give them back all that they’ve given you,” Jay says. “If you’re sitting in a mansion and just sitting on the Black dollar based on what you’ve been doing, then this is how you contribute.”

As a 22-year-old queer Black man, he realizes he has to fight for his rights not only in a racist American society but also in a hip-hop space that is often plagued with homophobia. “I really have to work extra hard to find my own style and my own taste and just perfect what I’m doing because people see somebody that’s queer and they automatically don’t want to associate themselves,” Jay says when asked about carving out his own space in the music world. “Because they’re homophobic, or because they don’t want to be saying ‘Oh, what was you doing working with him? What were y’all doing in the studio?’” Despite this, Jay’s individuality has never faltered and he has turned his personality into one of his most endearing qualities. A close friendship with the ethereal Erykah Badu has also helped him maintain a deep relationship with his ancestry and spirituality, and he prides himself on how much he’s grown into his Blackness.

Even over Zoom, Jay’s energy and spirit erased our digital distance. Despite him living in California now, the lighthearted—often misunderstood —sarcasm that only two people from Jersey can understand blended immediately between us. He is deeply rooted in his beliefs, unapologetically himself, and simultaneously still growing into his newly discovered goals and ambitions. In a conversation with VIBE, Jay Versace talks about the current revolution for Black rights, how his spiritual roots have influenced his soulful beats, and why his future looks all-Black.

What are your feelings like surrounding the current revolution taking place?

It’s mixed emotions. There’s so much good stuff happening, there’s so much bad stuff happening. There’s so much of just both happening at the same time. I’m worried about my mental health and just how I’m, like, trying to be a better version of me so that I can continue to be a voice or some type of spokesperson for people. So half of me is super into it, I’m ready to unpack. I’m ready to change and make everything all-Black, and then on the other side I’m like, “Okay, let me get my mental health together.”

And speaking of things being all-Black, you’re one of the few influencers who have always really advocated for Black rights on your platform. What are your thoughts on a lot of the performative activism we’ve been seeing from brands and influencers lately?

Something told me something like this was going to happen before. A couple of years ago, something told me it’s going to be some people and some brands, and I’ve already just seen it. This type of stuff’s been kind of happening, where brands or people or influencers don’t really care about the Black community, but they know it’s a crowd they need to have a grasp on in order to get them to where they're trying to go in their career. It’s very selfish. It’s something you really just have to analyze. Like, who’s actually trying to contribute towards change, and who’s trying to just contribute towards their change.

I hate it, and that’s why I’ve been calling brands out. So many brands benefit off of Black people and the Black community, and yet they don’t actually help Black people or they don’t actually go into the community and see what needs help. They actually make it worse. They actually make the community worse by the image that they show Black people as.

I think you are the leader of a vanguard of budding Black creatives, personalities, and young people. How have you seen people our age mobilizing right now, and what do you want to see more of?

I see people our age just using their voice. We’re in a completely different time period, where, like, our ancestors gave us the knowledge. They gave us books, they gave us interviews, they spoke out. So I really see people around me, and influencers using their voice but it’s way more powerful and it’s way more impactful now because we have social media where everybody can hear and see everything, and that’s what’s kind of scary. It’s like, I’m not sure if things are worse or better than what our ancestors went through, because they didn’t have cameras to film everything. So now we’re in a time where everybody has their camera out, everybody's using their voices, like every 5-minutes it’s a viral video. That’s what I appreciate about what’s going on right now, we can actually document every single thing.

And what we need to do more of, I feel like it’s a group effort. It’s some stuff that white people need to do more, like, it’s some stuff that white people need to do more of! (Laughs) And then with Black people, we have to organize. We really have to come together and organize better, but just as far as white people I feel like they need to leave us alone and they need to go to their neighborhoods and make changes within their community.

Have you been able to get out and march at all?

No, I haven’t gone out to protest because the way my anxiety is set up. I’m just seeing so much going on with the police. It’s like wars out there, they going back-and-forth, they throwing gas at people, they shooting rubber bullets, and that’s just something that my anxiety won’t let me participate in. I’ve been protesting online.

And people are finally starting to talk about it now, but all the Black trauma does such damaging things to the Black psyche as well.

That’s another thing, I want to add to what I want to see more of. I want to see Black people take care of their mental health because, that first week when things were really hectic, we don’t know how our minds are going to process that within the next couple of months and years. It’s stuff from when I was a little kid that I didn’t realize was traumatic to me, and it’s just now processing. So we really need to take advantage of what we need to do with our mental health because that’s eventually going to take its toll. And even right now it’s wearing down on people’s minds and I just really want people to see that mental health is important.

You’ve always been really transparent about your struggles with anxiety. What’s been helping you keep your peace during these super trying times?

I’ve been making music, I’ve been telling my friends 'cause my friends have been calling me stressed out. I’m like, “Just make music.” Make music because if you think about the other time period where this kind of happened before, with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, there was a lot of music that was being based on what was going on. I feel like everybody was creating. If you’re an artist, whatever you do, you can contribute to what’s going on by using your skills. So I’ve just been trying to do whatever I do best, and that zens me out.

Do you think artists have an obligation to use their platform to talk about social issues?

Yes, just yes. You have to realize, if you benefit off the Black community, this is how you give them back all that they’ve given you. If you’re sitting in a mansion and just sitting on the Black dollar based on what you’ve been doing, then this is how you contribute. These people need you, these people give to you so give back to them. I don’t understand how that’s so hard. Like, I understand taking some time out to process it and then speak out, but to not speak out at all; I feel like that’s kind of messed up. These people are actually paying your bills, so there is a responsibility to use your voice because not everybody has that following where they can get points across, so we need that. We need people to speak up for us.

The LGBTQ+ Community has always been deeply rooted in social activism. Can you talk about any experiences you’ve had fighting for your voice to be heard as not only a Black man but also a Black queer man in this music space?

I feel like, one thing about music is that being someone that’s queer in music is very difficult. It’s so much homophobia. That’s really the genre I’m going into, that underground hip-hop is so homophobic. So it’s like, I really have to work extra hard to find my own style and my own taste and just perfect what I’m doing because people see somebody that’s queer and they automatically don’t want to associate themselves. Because they’re homophobic, or because they don’t want to be saying, “Oh, what was you doing working with him, what were y’all doing in the studio.”Like, every time I work in the studio with somebody and it comes up it’s like: “Oh, what was y’all doing. What did you have to do for that.” And I’m like, “Yo, we can’t just be two creative people? It has to be something about sexuality?” So it’s like, just what I’m going through right now and trying to make music and being in this homophobic-ass genre, it’s very stressful.

But I feel like it’s changing a lot. A lot of people are coming to their senses and feeling more comfortable with their own sexuality and not having to intimidate other people.

JAYVERSACE · CROSSMYMIND

You’re also boldly independent, I think that’s one of your strongest personality traits. When navigating this music space, how valuable do you think that trait is?

It’s very important just to be stern with what you believe in. I just also feel like, not everything you want to do is worth doing. Not everybody is worth working with. Not everybody deserves to be in your creative space. I know people really want opportunities to come to them, but not every opportunity is worth it. Like sometimes, and definitely as a queer person, if know you’re working with somebody that’s homophobic, is it really worth it? I think about my kids, what do I want to do to set an example for my kids. I want my kids to feel like, whatever sexuality they are, they walk into whatever room or situation as they are and they won’t change for nobody. They will only allow certain sh*t around them, so that’s what I’ve really been trying to do. Yeah, I play sometimes, but as far as allowing certain things to happen around me, I won’t allow. Because you’ll get run over.

I also want to touch on your other Instagram for a minute too, Jayversay. I like to call it your Sprinsta(spiritual Instagram). You’re deeply in touch with your roots, can you talk about how that plays a part in the messages you spread on your platform and your beats? 

My spirituality, just where I come from, my family, everybody was just super Black. And even though I grew up around people who were celebratory of being Black, I also did not want to be Black. I grew up not wanting to be Black. I grew up looking at people on magazines, looking at people on TV, looking at certain Black skin tones. I always felt like I was not accepted.

But now, a couple of years ago, I just started to realize, like, look at my history. I started to really dive deep into these books that my family used to always read and just go deep into my history. I’m like, damn. It just made me very angry, that I had all this kept from me for so long. First I got angry, I went through those emotions, then I just got more proud. I wanted to celebrate it, so I’ve always been about Black culture, Black music, all of that since. And since I first started making videos I’ve just tried to help Black people.

Can you talk about the beautiful relationship you have with the ethereal Erykah Badu? How has she helped guide you in your spiritual journey?

Yeah, Erykah Badu helped me make my ancestor altar, she’s the one who told me I needed one. She’s really, as far as my spiritual journey, made me feel comfortable. She made me feel like, okay I’m not going too far. Cause I was really diving deep into my spirituality, but she was like, “Keep going.” Ever since we first came in contact, she’s always just been trying to help me with everything I’ve been doing. She still hits me up every other week, just asking if I’m good. She’s just a very good person, besides her being a celebrity. Just one of the most beautiful humans I’ve ever come across. I really love and appreciate all the help she’s given me. I don’t know where I would be without her right now.

You were on one of the best rap tapes that dropped this year, and you also have a really expansive knowledge of music, even a brief scrolling of your SoundCloud reflects that. That Clark Sisters sample for “Versace” was beautiful. What got you into listening to the classics? 

Just how I was raised listening to soulful music. My grandparents, my parents, grew up around rappers and singers and it just stuck with me. I don’t really know, I guess it was always a part of me because anything I remember from liking music has always been the same type of music. I think it’s just built inside of me to like a certain type of style of music, like classic stuff.

There’s a funny tweet of yours about how people are so obsessed with 808’s nowadays. What do you try to avoid when making your beats?

I feel people use 808’s and that same snare because that’s louder than their voice, so people hide under drums because they know they not saying anything. Like, they know if they actually said it out loud without rapping it, it would not make any sense. It would sound corny, so people hide behind 808’s and those same drums because it sounds good, but that’s about it.

I try to avoid sounding like people that I’m compared to. I try to avoid sounding like: “Oh, this is like that!” If I hear that, I’m like, “Okay, bet I’m never going to make music like this again because whatever people hear from me, we already have that.” Don’t compare me to anything, I want to be my own person. So I let people tell me “what I sound like,” so I can not sound like that.

Can you speak on the work you’ve been doing with Freddie Gibbs? You said you were working on a project with him.

Freddie Gibbs is a crackhead, so whatever we’re working on is going to take some time. (Laughs) I’ve sent him beats he’s said he’s writing to, but he stays writing to them and I look on his [Instagram] story and he’s on a boat. I sent him the beats and I’m like, “You know what? I don’t know when I’ma expect a project.” I just know I sent him the beats and he hit me up every now and then like, “Yeah, I wrote to this,” and I’m like “Alright.” So I really don’t know, that’s Freddie Gibbs so I really don’t know. The ball is in his court.

Thoughts on Alfredo?

I loved the album. I actually had the same sample as one of the songs on that album.

Really? Which one?

The one where he was like “Babies & Fools." I sampled that the exact same way and was going to send it to Freddie and I’m glad I didn’t cause Alchemist did it.

I mean, the fact that you and Alchemist are thinking on the same wavelength is impressive as hell.

Yeah, that’s what I keep thinking! I’m like, “Hmm, maybe I’m about to get the next Grammy.” (Laughs) Because me and Alchemist made the same beat by accident, that’s insane to me.

I know you’ve also been in the lab with J.I.D and saw somewhere Ari Lennox too, what’s up with that?

We're just working. Me and J.I.D, we damn near made a whole tape. I’ve never heard this side of J.I.D in my life, so I don’t know what’s about to happen when this gets released because this is like, some of the best music I’ve made. Just with J.I.D and how he’s articulating his words and telling stories, he literally brings the beats to life. He creates stories, it’s some crazy sh*t that we made.

JAYVERSACE · KOOL-AID JAMMERS

Ari Lennox, I don’t know how she works so fast, but she’s like Walt Disney. She works very fast, so I’m excited to work with her.

What’s a dream collaboration of yours?

Damn, that’s so loaded. (Laughs) I would love to work with Jay-Z. Jay-Z or Kendrick [Lamar], I would love to work with either of them. Just how much they inspire me and how my beats sound. I literally make beats for them, so I would love to work with them.

You made one of your first beats on May 14, 2018. Now, over 2 years later, what are you most proud of in your growth as a producer?

Oh my God! I didn’t even know that. I’m most proud of myself for continuing to do it because when I tweeted I was trying to make music, so many people were like, “This is what this is gonna sound like” and were sending the craziest GIF’s and memes and I was like, “Damn, y'all really think I have no taste?” (Laughs) It was very intense and overwhelming, but I was like you know what, f**k them and kept doing it, kept trying. Kept trying new styles and sounds out, and the fact that I kept going and it’s gotten me this far and now I can say that this is my job, that’s what I’m most proud of. Just listening to my own voice.

You said that Donald Glover, Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Rocky, and Drake started everything really in terms of helping shape our generation. I know you’re just getting started, but when you’re just an old head from Jersey, what is the most important thing you want to leave behind?

Damn, I don’t know. I want to leave behind everything. I want my whole journey to be analyzed, from beginning to end. I don’t want nothing to be left out, I want the whole thing to be seen and experienced so that people can get inspired and do whatever they want to do. That’s the only reason why we’re on this planet, to show other people how to be on this planet. So I want to leave behind my whole experience.

I remember you talked in a Fader interview about how layered you are. I don’t think making beats is something new for you, I think it’s just a new part of yourself that you’re sharing. If you made your first beat a little over 2 years ago, and just got featured on Pray for Paris, where do you hope to be 2 years from now?

Two years from now, I expect for me to have a successful production company, successful music career, modeling, acting, architecture. Any type of thing that I want to do. Everything just thriving, and Blackness all over the f**king place.

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Catching Up with Koffee

There's still a lot of time left in Summer 2020, but on the last day of July, we declared Koffee's "Lockdown" Boomshots' official 2020 Summer anthem. Produced by Dane "Raygad" Ray from the Unruly camp, the song finds Koffee asking all of the questions everybody in the world is asking themselves right now. What will the future be like "when the quarantine thing done and everybody touch road?" As soon as we heard this tune, we knew it was outta here! (That was way before we saw the video with cameos from Popcaan and Dre Island.) More than just a COVID-era contemplation, "Lockdown" is also a poignant love song that speaks to the challenges of romance during a time of the viral pandemic. As such, it represents a milestone in Koffee's catalog.

At the ripe old age of 20, the youngest Reggae Grammy winner in history has given us her first love song—and without overthinking it one bit, she might just have given us a follow-up to rival her breakthrough smash, "Toast." When you hear Koffee sing "if you love me, you should let me...," it's clear she is in her feelings on this one. Of course, everybody wants to know who this song was inspired by, but all we can say about that is just "cool." In her first interview since "Lockdown" dropped, Koffee tapped in with Boomshots' Reshma B on VIBE's Instagram Live and spoke about the inspiration behind the tune.

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BOOMSHOTS: So much has happened and obviously, with the lockdown, we haven’t seen each other.

KOFFEE: That’s true.

We haven’t spoken since you won the Grammy so let me start with a big congratulations.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

You made history there. You’re the first female and the youngest to win a Reggae Grammy, as I’m sure you know.

So I’ve heard, so I’ve heard. (Laughs) Thank you.

How was that experience for you?

It was amazing for me being able to be there and represent Jamaica. Because at the end of the day, I feel like—even to be real nobody knew me at the ceremony. As you know the reggae category and some other categories are separated from like big categories like rap and stuff like that. So we’re not in the big ceremony. But it felt so good going up on the stage and collecting something on behalf of Jamaica, on behalf of reggae. There’s a lot to give thanks for regarding that. It’s good to be able fe spread light and just inspire people.

You know there was a time hip-hop was not getting televised either. 

Yeah, so it’s a journey.

We all know someone who’s lost someone in this pandemic. It’s difficult adjusting to this new normal. How have you been coping with the lockdown?

For me, thankfully, I haven’t been directly affected by the COVID, and I don't’ know anybody who’s been directly affected. But I send my prayers out to those who have been and those who find it difficult during these times whether financially, even emotionally. It’s a very very very hard time and I can tell even out in the streets it shows. Before you had homeless people and beggars but now when you look pon them face it’s so rough. Me know say it tough out there. So me just a try to put that energy—channel it into anything I can, which for me is music. You know I’ve been working on my album.

How did the “Lockdown” song come about?

The song was actually a very spur-of-the-moment song. I had been planning to go into the studio with some musicians, like some guitarists, pianists, drummers, and stuff. And for the time being, that had been kinda stalled because of the whole COVID. So I was supposed to be in the UK actually doing a camp. And I was just going to the studio—you know Popcaan?

Of course, we know Poppy. Shout out to the Unruly Boss!

Sorry, my bad... I take it back! I take it back! Poppy has a studio, right? So I started goin’ by his studio to just record some stuff like in the meantime while everything is kinda shut down. And there I met a producer named Dane Ray. Now Poppy have a song weh him release the other day, I think it name “Numbers Don’t Lie” and him say, “More gal fe me and Dane Ray.” You get me? So you know say Dane Ray is like him bredren and stuff. So me set a link there and Dane Ray play me a track, which was “Lockdown” instrumental. And me just decide inna the moment, say, ‘Yo, let’s just write some lyrics to it. Some nice melodies that I’m feeling.’ And I literally just did it. And then probably like the week after that I just listen to the song and said “I really like this.” And me just call my manager like, “Yo, let’s do a video. This is who I want in it. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.” We call producer, call everybody, call videographer, and we just got it done and then we just release it. It was so—we didn’t even think twice. Me never think it woulda reach this far.

Everything went natural. 

Yeah, just so natural.

And now you're hot like thermos!

It’s so crazy right now.

This is the first time we've heard a love song from Koffee. I hear you say things like, “Givin’ you my heart beg you take it from me.” It’s so touching to hear that!

Yo, that was so serious. I swear. Me nah go answer no question about who and the speculations. But I’m tellin’ you that song was so real, I meant that sh*t. (Laughs) I mean that!

Watch the full interview above.

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Photos by Prince Williams/John Parra/Getty Images

A Look At DMX And Snoop Dogg's 'Verzuz' Battle Scorecard

As Verzuz continues to evolve and progress as a platform and brand, the battles have only gotten better and more competitive, with Snoop Dogg and DMX's celebration being the latest pairing to captivate the culture. Both making their debut during the ‘90s, Snoop was the first to crashland on the scene. Parlaying standout guest appearances alongside Dr. Dre on “Deep Cover” and The Chronic into a deafening buzz surrounding his name and debut album, Doggystyle. From there, Snoop has built a legacy as one of the greatest rap artists of all-time, reinventing himself in effortless fashion while continuously dropping hits that touch various generations of music fans, of all genres. With seventeen solo studio albums, as well as multiple collaborative and group projects to his name, Snoop Dogg is revered as a cultural treasure and hip-hop’s resident Doggfather. As one of the more formidable lyricists in rap with an onslaught of show-stealing guest appearances, DMX took the world by storm upon the release of his debut album, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, which sold upwards of four million copies and singlehandedly shifted the landscape of rap music. The first artist to release two chart-topping solo studio albums in the same calendar year, the Yonkers, NY native broke multiple records and is equally revered for his passion and spirit as he is for his music.

Given both artist’s affinity for canines and their stature as legends from opposite coasts, it was only right that Snoop and DMX face-off in a Verzuz “battle” to determine who’s really the top dog in this thing of ours. As a mix of classic records were spun by DJ Battlecat, Snoop Dogg arrived on the set first, decked out in a Doggystyle t-shirt, with DPG sweatpants to match. Not long after, he was joined by DMX, who rocked a red and black velour suit; he looked invigorated and as primed for a comeback as ever. As Snoop grabbed a few chicken strips to help sop up his liquor, DMX sipped on his Kool-aid and shared Now & Laters with his opponent, proving that some dogs are able to play nice, even in the heat of battle. Streamed from Snoop Dogg's home, this week’s Verzuz was as anticipated as any we can remember, as Snoop and DMX were both considered the biggest stars in rap at one point in time with catalogs that have given the culture countless hits and timeless records. The proceedings, which begin with a prayer by DMX, were set into motion, as Snoop Dogg took home-field advantage with the first salvo before positions reversed following the first ten rounds. Let the battle of the dogs begin.

ROUND 1: Dr. Dre’s "Deep Cover (feat. Snoop Dogg) vs. DMX’s "Intro"

For his first salvo, Snoop Dogg harkens back to where it all began: "Deep Cover," his inaugural guest appearance alongside Dr. Dre, which put him on the trajectory of stardom in 1992. DMX comes a bit from left field, launching into an acapella performance that provides the buildup for the intro to his blockbuster 1998 debut, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. While "Intro" is an explosive offering, it is no match for the sheer impact of "Deep Cover," giving Snoop the first round

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 2: Snoop Dogg’s "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" vs. DMX’s "What's My Name"

We’re reminded Styles make fights during the second round of this match-up of the dogs. Snoop Dogg continues to draw from his early catalog with his debut solo single, "Who Am I (What's My Name)?", while DMX answers the bell with his own "What's My Name," resulting in a dead heat.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 3: Snoop Dogg’s "Gin & Juice" vs. DMX’s "Get At Me Dog" (feat. Sheek Louch)

Doggystyle continues to get mined for material, as Snoop Dogg cues up his 1993 single, "Gin & Juice," one of his most seismic bangers. DMX, on the other hand, follows suit, drawing from his own monstrous debut album and firing back with his 1998 release, "Get At Me Dog.” This selection also brings about the origin of the record, which DMX reveals was inspired by an exchange with Snoop prior to the record’s creation. “The ‘Get At Me’ phrase, I got that from you,” X tells Snoop. This historical tidbit gives further insight into their relationship and is another sign that the pitbull and the Doberman are in for a dogfight of epic proportions.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 4: Dr. Dre’s "Dre Day" (feat. Snoop Dogg) vs. Ruff Ryders’ "Some X Sh*t" (feat. DMX)

Before taking the time to send a shout-out to the chat, Snoop Dogg tosses "Dre Day," him and Dr. Dre's lyrical tirade against the late Eazy-E and Uncle Luke, on the table. At this point, DMX misplays his hand, opting for a Ruff Ryders compilation joint that pales in comparison

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 5: 2Pac’s "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" (feat. Snoop Dogg) vs. DMX’s "Stop Being Greedy"

Snoop Dogg summons the spirit of 2Pac, whom he collaborated with on

“2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted," from the latter's 1996 release, All Eyez On Me, bringing an air of nostalgia to the proceedings. DMX, who circles the block with "Stop Being Greedy," puts forth one of his most bruising bangers, but Snoop's sole collaboration with Pac gets the win, albeit by a slim margin

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 6: Snoop Dogg’s "Down 4 My Ni**az" (feat. C-Murder & Mr. Magic) vs. JAY-Z’s "Money, Cash, Hoes" (feat. DMX)

With the momentum fully in his favor, Snoop pulls out a big joker early, as his raucous No Limit banger "Down 4 My Ni**az" puts even more pressure on his opponent. However, DMX doesn't wilt, bringing in "Money, Cash, Hoes," his monstrous collaboration with JAY-Z, ending this round in a dead heat.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 7: Snoop Dogg’s "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)" (feat. Warren G, Nate Dogg & Kurupt) vs. Aaliyah’s "Come Back In One Piece" (feat. DMX)

The tempo shifts, as Snoop Dogg serves up one of his more syrupy ditties, "Ain't No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)," a posse-cut of the highest order. Following suit, DMX comes through with the 1999 Aaliyah collab, "Come Back In One Piece," which is an admirable selection, but not strong enough to take this round away from Snoop, who shares his affinity for X’s bars on “What These Bitches Want.” In turn, X pays his respects for Snoop’s historic run as part of Death Row Records and gaining a respect for the west coast rap scene from afar.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 8: Snoop Dogg’s "Bi**h Please" (feat. Xzibit & Nate Dogg) vs. DMX’s "X Gon' Give It to Ya"

As the celebration of legends continues, Snoop Dogg looks back at his stint on No Limit Records once again with "Bi**h Please," from his No Limit Top Dogg album. X gets real festive with amped-up soundtrack selection "X Gon' Give It to Ya," which still retains replay value and Snoop remarks is one of his personal favorites out of his catalog. However, it is no match when pitted against Snoop's flow over this particular Dre beat.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 9: Snoop Dogg’s "Gz and Hustlas" vs. DMX’s "Who We Be"

Giving a brief backstory of Bow Wow's origins in the game, Snoop goes back to the Doggystyle well with "Gz and Hustlas," one of the few deep cuts played during the battle. Striking while the iron's hot, DMX manages to steal a round with his 2001 single, "Who We Be," one of the dog's more underrated anthems.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 10: Snoop Dogg’s "Tha Shiznit" vs. DMX’s "Let's Get It On"

Sticking to the script, Snoop Dogg, who gets inspired to delve into his lyrical grab-bag, pulls another classic from the vault, with "Tha Shiznit," a melodic groove that showcases Snoop's sinewy flow. Smelling blood in the water, DMX throws a haymaker with Swizz Beatz-assisted party banger, "Let's Get It On," stealing yet another round and keeping the competitive juices flowing.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 11: DMX’s "F**kin' wit' D" vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Lay Low" (feat. Tha Eastsidaz, Master P, Butch Cassidy & Nate Dogg)

As the order reverses for the second half of the battle, with DMX now going first, he gives insight into the making of It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, revealing he wrote three songs within hours of each other, one of them being the It's Dark and Hell Is Hot cut "F**kin' wit' D," a high-octane thumper that channels the Dark Man's energy. For a change of pace, Snoop Dogg slows down the tempo with "Lay Low," one of his more infectious salvos from his No Limit tenure.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 12: DMX’s "What These Bi**hes Want" (feat. Sisqo) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Beautiful" (feat. Pharrell Williams)

DMX goes for the jugular with"What These Bi**hes Want," a timeless gem, which recently inspired a social media challenge that took the world by storm. Snoop Dogg, who keeps the same energy, doling out "Beautiful," his collaborative effort with Pharrell Williams, which he recalls being inspired by a trip to Brazil. “I got with my nigga Pharrell, and he was like, ‘Snoop, you gotta tap into your sexy side,’” the Doggfather explains. In spite of that intel, “Beautiful,”’ which may have been a bigger hit, lacks the punch of "What These Bi**hes Want"

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 13: DMX’s "How's It Goin' Down" (feat. Faith Evans) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Pump Pump"

Finally hitting his stride, DMX brings forth one of his more romantic numbers with the Faith Evans-assisted heater "How's It Goin' Down," while Snoop Dogg misfires with "Pump Pump," another selection from Doggystyle. "Pump Pump" is sure to get a positive reaction whenever it's played, but "How's It Goin Down" gets the nod in this round.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 14: DMX’s "It's All Good" vs. Dr. Dre’s "Bi**hes Ain't Sh*t" (feat. Tha Dogg Pound, Jewell & Snoop Dogg)

Dogs will be dogs, which is evidenced by this round, as both artists play both sides of the coin when it comes to women. DMX's "It's All Good" is more of a celebratory anthem dedicated to the ladies. “When you’re a New York nigga, the entire state of California is L.A.,” X shares. “I actually think I did record this out here, for my second album.” Snoop's appearance on "Bi**hes Ain't Sh*t," throws the scandalous ones under the bus and happens to be one of DMX’s favorite anthems in times of marital strife. Both have their place, but Snoop ultimately gets thrown a bone, winning one of the more crucial rounds of the battle.

WINNER: Snoop Dogg

ROUND 15: DMX’s "Slippin" vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Murder Was the Case"

After taking it to the streets, the party, and the bedroom, DMX and Snoop provide a moment of introspection, as both go with their most personal records to date. DMX, who plays "Slippin'," shifts the vibe of the proceedings, even tacking on an unreleased verse for good measure. This leaves Snoop Dogg no choice but to retort with "Murder Was the Case," resulting in one of the more sobering moments of the night.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 16: DMX’s "Ni**az Started Something" (feat. The LOX & Ma$e) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Doggy Dogg World" (feat. Nanci Fletcher, The Dramatics & Tha Dogg Pound)

One of the kings of the posse-cut, DMX comes with one from his own debut, which boasts one of his more impressive rhyme spills to date. Instead of trying to one-up DMX with a harder record, Snoop plays to his strengths, cueing up "Doggy Dogg World," further evidence of how loaded Doggystyle is as a body of work, but not enough to net him the win.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 17: LL Cool J’s "4,3,2,1" (feat. DMX, Canibus, Redman and Method Man) vs. Snoop Dogg’s "I Luv It" (feat. The Eastsidaz)

Realizing he's hit his stride, DMX continues to delve into his laundry list of collaborative cuts, as he looks to do further damage with "4,3,2,1," on which he co-stars alongside four of the strongest pens of his error. On the other hand, Snoop makes his most egregious blunder of the night, playing "I Luv It," a collaboration with The Eastsidaz that may bang in smaller circles, but failed to move the crowd in a big way.

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 18: The LOX’s "Money, Power, & Respect" (feat. DMX and Lil' Kim) vs. 50 Cent’s "P.I.M.P.: (Remix)" feat. Snoop Dogg & Bishop Don ‘Magic’ Juan

WINNER: DMX

ROUND 19: DMX’s "Ruff Ryders Anthem" vs. Dr. Dre’s "Nuthin' But a G Thang" (feat. Snoop Dogg)

As the end of the regulation draws near, DMX gives us the moment we've all been waiting for: "Ruff Ryders' Anthem," the song that helped launch him into stardom. Not to be outclassed, Snoop also finished in riveting fashion with "Nuthin' But a G Thang," which boasts the introductory verse that will be spat verbatim until the end of time upon pressing play.

WINNER: Tie

ROUND 20: DMX's "Party Up (Up in Here)" vs. Snoop Dogg’s "Drop It Like It's Hot" (feat. Pharrell Williams)

To end their face-off, DMX and Snoop each deliver one of their signature records, as DMX runs with "Party Up (Up in Here)," while Snoop comes with "Drop It Like It's Hot," both of which are undeniable bangers and regarded as cultural classics in their own right.

WINNER: Tie

While many believed Snoop Dogg had a clear advantage in terms of longevity, hits, and overall discography, DMX managed to level the playing field through timely song choices, often offsetting the vibe and tempo of the rounds. Snoop, who got off to an early lead that looked insurmountable by the end of the first half of the battle, had plenty of firepower to work with, but failed to capitalize on his breadth of material due to questionable song placement in certain rounds. However, after taking every individual round into account, this Verzuz event shaped up to be the most competitive thus far, with both artists giving strong performances and ending the battle in a dead heat. As the vibes were all on a high note, the two icons even threw in a few extra joints for good measure, with X performing his 2003 hit “Where The Hood At,” while Snoop responds with his 2000 guest spot on Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode.” The two then dive into an impromptu freestyle session, with both artists wowing the viewers at home and those in the chat. When all was said and done, according to our scorecard, there was no clear-cut victor. That said, the ultimate winners were the culture and hip-hop fans who were able to witness two music icons celebrate each other and play records that helped shape the sound of music as we know it today.

FINAL SCORE: 7-7-6

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