Courvoisier Cognac Opens The Doors To "Maison Courvoisier With Pusha T And Emerging Artists"
Multi-platinum rapper and entrepreneur Pusha-T partners with Courvoisier Cognac and performs during Maison Courvoisier on Saturday, February 15, 2020. Maison Courvoisier is an immersive luxury experience that pays homage to the brand’s Chateau in France and showcases the power of shared success by partnering with talent at the top of their game to spotlight their favorite artists in the areas of fashion and art.
Jeff Schear

Pusha T And Courvoisier Welcome Chicago To Maison Courvoisier Experience

King Push and Courvoisier Cognac give NBA All-Star Weekend warm vibes with art, fashion and good liquor.

As the festivities from the bitterly cold 2020 NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago brought nearly the whole Midwest and beyond to the city, Courvoisier Cognac left everyone with a glowing warmth as strong and hearty as the liquor itself this past Saturday, Feb. 15 at the Morgan MFG. The esteemed brand opened the gates to its Maison Courvoisier Experience with Pusha T, featuring the artwork and fashion of Rhuigi Villasenor and Al-Baseer Holly, with surprise sets from Gunna and Tory Lanez.

For Push, teaming up with Courvoisier is all about staying true to their sacred moral codes, as he embraced their story of how the brand continued to prosper over the many years.

“We’re sticking to the mantra ‘honor your code’ and we’re living by that. It’s amazing to be partners with Courvoisier,” said Push.

The drip from meticulously crafted scenery falls as soon as you enter the make-shift liquor mansion. Between the walls of the rustic yet elegant area, the guests were treated to Al-Baseer’s colorful and eclectic interactive art gallery, Rhuigi’s fashion display, and a mini-tour of the private stock room with a tasting of one of their exclusive blends. Chicago’s own DJ Sean Mac soundtracked the night as the crowd drank barrels of Courvoisier VSOP and their special cocktails, the “King Push” and the Courvoisier French 75, all while snapping flicks at the high-end photo booths.

Meanwhile, the man of the hour, Pusha T blended into the crowd in his all-black attire. He spent part of the evening giving the media a quick tour of both exhibits and taking photos with Rhuigi and Al-Baseer.

After Sean Mac practically turned the building into the club scene from New Jack City with his fully loaded 90s set, the majority Black female crowd flocked to the front of the stage for King Push. Straight out the gate, he had the whole crowd screaming the lyrics of “If You Know You Know” word for word and continued with other deep cuts from his Grammy-nominated album Daytona.

Throughout the show, Push gave the Chicago crowd plenty of musical treats to go with their drinks, starting with his classic verses from Kanye’s “Devil in A New Dress”, “So Appalled”, and “New God Flow” from Cruel Summer, along with more Windy City love like his verse from Yeezy’s “Mercy” and his earth-shaking closer, his 16 from Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like” remix. And he kept his foot on the crowd’s neck as he took the room back to ’02 with the Clipse’s claim-to-fame hit, “Grindin.”

Before Pusha T would close the show, he brought out Gunna, to the surprise of the packed and semi-drunken room. Moving off the crowd's warm vibes, Gunna kept a hot hand all night as he rocked the stage with hits like “Speed It Up”, “Hot”, “Oh Okay”, and shut it down with “Drip Too Hard”. The crowd ate it up while he periodically took selfies with fans in front of the stage and rapped some of his verses on a few of their respective Instagram Lives.

After Sean Mac tempered the crowd from another set, an unexpected Tory Lanez ran on stage to “Broke In A Minute” with a hot crowd. He became a livewire, gyrating to “Talk To Me” and doing tongue-in-cheek call and responses. “If you got an STD then throw your hands up! All their hands mean some of yall lying,” he said in jest.

As the electrifying Lanez spent the whole show singing and getting to know his front row of ladies through singing to them and on their phones, he blew the roof off, wrapping up his set with the fiery “K Oh K”.

Before he hopped on stage, VIBE had a quick word with Pusha T inside the green room during the party and spoke with him about his collaboration with Courvoisier, sharing his love for fashion with Rhuigi Villasenor, and what stands out to him about Chicago’s culture and fashion.

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You’ve been a huge fan of Courvoisier for a long time. What drew you to the brand?

The heritage, man. The heritage, the whole story behind it, the whole idea of shared success and how the brand was birthed by pulling up one another. I see similarities in that and just how I look at life and where I am in music and how I can pull up the next future MCs and the next artists in general.

Or even how you and your brother [No Malice] were able to pull each other up over the years.

Brother, friends, family, everybody. Each one, teach one, that’s what it’s all about.

For decades, Courvoisier has been celebrated throughout hip-hop in songs and beyond. How has it been able to remain such a long-lasting staple in hip-hop?

I think hip-hop is drawn to heritage and things that are luxury. It has a luxury aesthetic to it. The taste level is up there, and I feel like hip-hop is drawn to those things.

What are the common threads that bond you and Rhuigi together, considering your passion for fashion?

I think our love for fashion, him being technically great at it and me just looking at it from afar. Me seeing his rise, him being—I own three stores, so I have my employees clamor over his stuff and I’m like, ‘okay, we gotta get this stuff in here.’ Just watching that fanfare.

How did he change your perspective on fashion, if he did in any way?

My perspective on fashion has always been the same in regard to music and fashion, just that whole fusion. All of my favorite rappers were always fresh, they were always fly. [Big Daddy] Kane, Slick Rick, everybody was always—I always saw it as one. I had to want to be like you in every aspect, not just rap like you.

Since you’re in Chicago during All-Star Weekend, what are some takeaways you got from the city’s fashion scene?

I have to say that there are a lot of trendsetters here. A lot of trendsetters here from Don C to Virgil [Abloh]. Even with ‘Ye, I see—watching them progress in fashion I will say that it’s really dope to watch them still learning and trying to learn. I think their hard work and ability and love of fashion is paying off.

Lastly, what’s something amazing from Chicago that you’ve seen since you’ve been here that you didn’t expect?

Well, I’m from Virginia and when I got here, I didn’t know house music was as big as it was here.

You didn’t know that?!

I did not know! This is the Midwest to us. Until I started coming here as an artist in traveling, that’s when I learned it was a part of your culture.

Since then, who are some of your favorites you may have picked up on?

No, I’ve never known. I’ve never known. Ever [laughs]! I just always knew it was a dance thing where we’re from. And I didn’t know when I came out here that house is like a lifestyle. [In Virginia,] you’ll have a house [music] set at a party, that’s cool. Here you have whole house clubs [laughs]. Things like that.

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Jadakiss and Fabolous perform at The Rich and Famous All Star Weekend Grand Finale at The Metropolitan on February 20, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Prince Williams/Wireimage

A Look At Fabolous And Jadakiss' 'Verzuz' Battle

After pairing two of the most acclaimed stars in contemporary R&B on Juneteenth, Verzuz returned to its rap roots, as Jadakiss and Fabolous went heads up to see whose catalog reigns supreme. While the event between the two — who joined forces for the highly-anticipated and critically acclaimed joint-album, Friday on Elm Street, in 2017 — was undoubtedly friendly and laced with compliments throughout the battle, there was no question that each came with the intent to outlast the other and walk away the victor.

With both having released their debut solo albums in 2001, Jadakiss and Fabolous' trajectories within the rap game have been eerily similar. While Jadakiss spent the latter half of the '90s as a key cog in the Bad Boy Records machine as a member of The LOX, Fabolous bided his time dominating the mixtape circuit under the guiding hand of DJ Clue, who helped him secure a record deal through his imprint, Desert Storm. Throughout the aughts, both artists matched their commercial success with standout showings alongside other rap and R&B artists and on the mixtape circuit, building reputations as elite wordsmiths. Today, both continue to churn out material and are regarded as OG's in the game, with resumes that place them on the list of the greatest rappers of all-time.

As two of the greatest rappers out of New York to ever pick up a mic, and with their willingness to perform and compete out of love for the culture, it was a given that Freddy and Jason face off in a Verzuz matchup to see whose lyrical sword cuts the deepest, once and for all. Aside from minor technical difficulties during the tail-end of the battle, this edition of the Instagram Live event continued the seamlessness of previous battles, with Jada and Fab proving that R&B and gospel artists aren't the only ones who know how to put on a show in an effective fashion.

In this matchup, Jadakiss went first for the first ten rounds, with Fabolous responding with his own selection, before switching the rotation for the final ten rounds, with Jadakiss answering with a song of his own. The evening, which included backstories behind each artist’s most popular records, friendly, albeit competitive banter, and countless trips down memory lane for the viewers and those commenting in the chat, is one that rap fans will remember for quite some time and is a testament to Fab and Jada’s staying power and music contributions to the culture. Here’s a round-by-round breakdown and recap of the Verzuz battle between Jadakiss and Fabolous, along with who we felt walked away as the victor when all was said and done.

ROUND 1: DMX feat. The LOX & Jay-Z's "Blackout" vs. Lil Wayne feat. Fabolous & Juelz Santana's "You Ain't Got Nuthin'"

Jadakiss wastes no time throwing down the gauntlet, as he lets off his verse from "Blackout," his collaborative effort with his LOX brethren, JAY-Z, and DMX, from the latter's 1998 LP, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. In return, Fabolous contests Kiss' opening pitch with a freestyle, which ultimately pales in comparison to Kiss' memorable posse-cut

Winner: Jadakiss

ROUND 2: The LOX's "Recognize" vs. Cassidy feat. Lil Wayne & Fabolous' "6 Minutes" DMX feat. The LOX & Jay-Z's "Blackout" vs. Lil Wayne feat. Fabolous & Juelz Santana's "You Ain't Got Nuthin'"

Sticking to the Ruff Ryders era of his career, the raspy one comes through with "Recognize," the standout, DJ Premier-produced cut off The LOX's sophomore LP, We Are the Streets. From there, Loso draws another lyrical miracle out the deck via "6 Minutes of Death," his scorching showing alongside Lil Wayne and Cassidy from Cass' I'm A Hustla album, which lands with impact, but falls short of a deafening blow in this matchup.

Winner: Jadakiss

ROUND 3: Nas feat. Jadakiss & Ludacris' "Made You Look (Remix)" vs. Lloyd Banks feat. Fabolous, Kanye West, Swizz Beatz & Ryan Leslie's "Start It Up"

Having captured the momentum early on, Jada continues to run up the score by tossing Nas' "Made You Look (Remix)" out on the table. Fabolous makes a valiant attempt to put some numbers on the board with Lloyd Banks' 2010 single "Start It Up," and although the track itself is a certified street banger, it's no challenge for one of the most memorable remixes of the early aughts.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 4: Jadakiss' "By Your Side" vs. Fabolous feat. P. Diddy & Jagged Edge's "Trade It All Pt. 2"

Having secured the first few rounds in convincing fashion, Al Qaeda Jada lets his foot off the gas, throwing out one of his more beloved deep cuts, "By Your Side," from his sophomore LP, Kiss of Death. His back against the ropes, the captain of the Street Family resorts to his grab-bag of hits, pulling out the Jagged Edge and Diddy-assisted summer smash, "Trade It All Pt. 2," giving the Brooklyn Don his first round of the bout.

WINNER: Fabolous

ROUND 5: The LOX's "All For the Love" vs. Fabolous feat. Kobe's "Imma Do It"

Faltering a bit in the previous round, Jadakiss returns fire with his solo selection from The LOX's '98 debut, Money, Power, & Respect, which Fabolous ironically jacked for his Friday Night Freestyles series, five years ago. In turn, Fabolous fails to regroup, misfiring with "Imma Do It," an underwhelming offering from his Loso's Way album, accounting for one of the more lopsided rounds in this edition of #Verzuz

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 6: The LOX's "Chest 2 Chest Freestyle" vs. Fabolous' "Keepin' It Gangsta"

Jadakiss goes out of the confines of the rules a bit by unleashing a vintage freestyle over Showbiz & A.G.'s "Next Level (Nyte Tyme Mix)," which pairs his bars with DJ Premier's sonic craftsmanship. While a strong selection in its own right, it gets outgunned by Fabolous' early street anthem, "Keepin' it Gangsta," adding another point to the Brooklynite's scorecard.

WINNER: Fabolous

ROUND 7: Ruff Ryders "WW III" vs. Fabolous feat. Junior Reid's "Gangsta Don't Play"

When in doubt, Jada seems to mine material from his Ruff Ryder catalog to gain an edge against his opponent, this time drawing "WW III," the star-studded battle royal featuring Scarface, Snoop Dogg, and Yung Wun, out the deck. In turn, Loso misplays his hand, deciding to strike back with the Junior Reid-assisted "Gangsta Don't Play," a solid composition on its own merit, but no threat to the Ryde or Die Vol. 2 compilation.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 8: Noreaga feat. Big Pun, Nature, Cam'Ron, Jadakiss & Styles P's "Banned From TV" vs. Fabolous feat. Jay-Z & Uncle Murda's "Brooklyn"

Looking to further increase the distance between himself and his opponent, Jadakiss goes for the jugular with "Banned From T.V.," Noreaga's epic posse-cut featuring New York's prized rookie class of 1998. Fabolous, who continues to struggle to find his footing, mails it in with "Brooklyn," which is an admirable display of his pride for the thoroughest borough, but does little to move the crowd, in this scenario.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 9: The LOX's "Blood Pressure" vs. Fabolous' "Young OG"

Sticking to the script, Jadakiss caters to his core base once again with "Blood Pressure," his murderous solo outing from The LOX's We Are the Streets album. Fabolous, who has yet to play off of his versatility or track record as a hitmaker, goes with "Young OG," a favorite from his Soul Tape series, again failing to answer the bell.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 10: Black Rob feat. The LOX's "Can I Live" vs. Jeezy feat. Fabolous & Jadakiss' "OJ"

For the last round of the first half of the #Verzuz proceedings, Jadakiss picks "Can I Live," as his last shot before skipping to the showers for half-time. An opportunity to grab an easy basket before retaining the rock after the half is squandered by Fab, who again misfires with a lackluster counter, in the form of "OJ," a record that actually includes an appearance from Jadakiss himself.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 11: Fabolous feat. French Montana's "Ball Drop" vs. Puff Daddy feat. The Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes' "Victory"

For the second half of this #Verzuz battle, Fabolous gets the first possession and rises to the occasion with "Ball Drop," his festive, French Montana-assisted NYE anthem. However, Jada, who's history as the pen behind some of Diddy's biggest hits is well-documented, goes left-field, playing Diddy's verse from "Victory," effectively snatching this round from the jaws of defeat.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 12: Meek Mill feat. Fabolous & Anuel AA's "Uptown Vibes" vs. Sheek Louch feat. Jadakiss, Styles P & J-Hood's "Mighty D-Block"

After spending the first half of the battle attempting to steal rounds with sleepers, Fabolous finally decides to lean on his strengths, which is delivering high-octane radio hits and club banger. However, being that he's now on the offensive, his appearance on Meek Mill's "Uptown Vibes" gets quelled by "D Block Anthem," giving Jadakiss an overwhelming advantage over his Freddy vs. Jason costar on the scoreboard.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 13: Fabolous feat. Nate Dogg's "Can't Deny It" vs. The LOX's "F--k You"

For Round 13, Fabolous lands a haymaker, using 2Pac's "Ambitionz Az a Ridah" instrumental to incorporate his breakout, 2001 hit, "Can't Deny It," into his playlist. While Jadakiss claps back with the incendiary We Are the Streets cut, "Fuck You," the Nate Dogg-assisted "Can't Deny It" is too strong of a record to be denied.

WINNER: Fabolous

ROUND 14: Fabolous feat. The-Dream's "Throw It in the Bag" (Remix) vs. Jadakiss' "Knock Yourself Out"

With the majority of his winning rounds coming off the strength of his high-charting singles, Fabolous looks to rely on that formula, coming through with the Drake-assisted remix to his 2009 single, "Throw It In The Bag." Unphased, Jadakiss brings out "Knock Yourself Out," the equivalent of his big joker, for neutralization, stealing yet another round.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 15: Fabolous' "Young'n" vs. Ghostface Killah feat. Jadakiss' "Run"

Fabolous takes it back to his throwback jersey and tilted brim days with "Young'n," one of the biggest singles of the rap star's career. Not to be outmatched, Jadakiss goes with "Run," his collaborative effort with Ghostface Killah, for this round, but falls short of landing the knockout punch.

WINNER: Fabolous

ROUND 16: Fabolous' "You Be Killin Em" vs. Puff Daddy feat. The Notorious B.I.G., Lil' Kim & The Lox's "It's All About the Benjamins" (Remix)

Just when Fabolous looks to have cracked the code to victory, Jadakiss comes through with a record that's simply too seismic and timeless to overcome. This occurs yet again in Round 16, when Jadakiss counters Loso's 2010 smash, "You Be Killin Em," with "All About the Benjamins," one of the definitive rap records of not only the Bad Boy era, but the '90s as a whole.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 17: Fabolous feat. Ne-Yo's "Make Me Better" vs. DJ Clue feat. Jadakiss & Mary J. Blige's "Back 2 Life 2001"

Despite finding himself in a deficit, Fabolous remains vigilant, keeping Jadakiss honest with formidable salvos like his Ne-Yo-assisted chart-topper, "You Make Me Better," which he pulls out in Round 16. Jadakiss shows love to his Yonkers comrade Mary J. Blige by spinning "Back 2 Life 2001," their collaboration from DJ Clue's The Professional 2 album, but it's not enough to overcome one of Fab's smartest chess moves of the night.

WINNER: Fabolous

ROUND 18: Fabolous feat. Mike Shorey & Lil Mo's "Can't Let You Go" vs. The LOX feat. Timbaland & Eve's "Ryde or Die, B---h"

In one of the more stylistically intriguing rounds of the night, Fabolous deploys "Can't Let You Go," his syrupy, 2003 hit, "Can't Let You Go," featuring Mike Shorey and Lil Mo, while Jadakiss goes with The LOX's 2000 single, "Ryde or Die, B---h" featuring his LOX brethren, Timbaland and Eve. While "Can't Let You Go" was the bigger Billboard hit, reading the room is an invaluable skill when participating in a #Verzuz battle, and according to the demographic and expectations of those tuning in to see these particular artists face-off, "Ryde or Die, B---h" is the more enticing offering, all things considered.

WINNER: Jadakiss

ROUND 19: Fabolous feat. Tamia's "Into You" vs. Jaheim feat. Jadakiss' "Diamond in da Ruff" (Remix)

As the battle winds down, and with Jadakiss having all but secured his bragging rights, both artists choose to play off of one another's selections, with Jadakiss answering Fabolous' "Into You" with "Diamond in da Ruff (Remix)," a sleeper of a gem in his catalog. However, "Into You, which is universally regarded as one of Fabolous' signature records, nabs him a latter round

WINNER: Fabolous

ROUND 20: Fabolous' "Breathe" vs. Jadakiss feat. Styles P's "We Gonna Make It"

For the final round in the battle between Freddy and Jason, Fabolous unleashes what may be his biggest trump card with "Breathe," one of the most impactful street anthems to come out of New York City in the past twenty years. Luckily, for Jadakiss, he still has one more trick up his sleeve, which turns out to be "We Gonna Make It," his beloved duet alongside Styles. P from his 2001 solo debut, Kiss Tha Game Goodbye. Two of the biggest rap records to hit the streets of New York. "Breathe" and "We Gonna Make It" are seemingly impossible to choose from, resulting in the lone draw of the night.

WINNER: Draw

 

Devoid of any bad blood or shade, Jadakiss and Fabolous were content playing to the Verzuz crowd and enjoying the moment, particularly Jadakiss, whose level of intoxication visibly rises throughout the proceedings, giving the battle an even more light-hearted feel. While Fabolous, whose laundry list of Billboard charting lead-singles and guest appearances, didn't play his best hand this go-round, there were a few moments during the battle that reminded the viewers of his versatility as a songwriter with a catalog of unsung gems. For his part, Jadakiss, the winner of this Verzuz edition, by all accounts, played to his strengths, relying on the sheer amount of blockbuster posse-cuts and guest verses on his resume. Following the battle, each artist's DJ let off a brief medley of each artists' biggest records and fan favorites that didn't make the cut of their playlists, ending the night on a respectful and celebratory note.

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Babyface And Teddy Riley's Botched Instagram Live Battle Proves Less Is More

Last night (April 18th), the battle of all Verzuz battles between legendary music writers/producers, Teddy Riley and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, hit a major digital pothole and couldn't recover for the over 400k viewers in attendance on Instagram Live. Mega producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland — who are the founders of the battle platform and have showcased many of these events since the quarantine started — hyped this long-awaited match up for weeks. Their disappointment in the face-off being barraged with sound issues was felt through their IG Live post-talk. "Teddy Riley was doing too much, " Swizz lamented and to what Timbaland agreed.

What those two are referring to is the frontman for '80s and '90s R&B groups Guy and Blackstreet (respectively) Teddy Riley who showed up on his own IG Live with a full stage set up. He had a keyboard, a DJ, what looked like a drummer in the cut and a hypeman dancing a la Flavor Flav style. It was a lot to witness as he warmed up the sound, which was fine before Babyface finally showed up on the split-screen. Just moments before Face appeared, the followers for the event quickly climbed to 300k in less than 8 minutes. Babyface's lag time in showing up prompted some of the commenters, which was super star-studded, to say things like, "He's still picking out his wardrobe," to "I think 'Face is scared, he's not gonna show." All of which was nonsense, as the flow of followers made it hard for Riley's team to catch Face's request to join. So for about 15 minutes, there was the anxiety of weeks of talk by the promoters and days of posting by T.R. and Face falling on this moment. The pressure to deliver was on. Black Twitter was seasoning the session as a true date night and hangout spot all day. Even going so far as to shower, shave, do hair and get "a good outfit" and some drinks on deck for the festivities.

Once the pleasantries were out of the way, there was Face, solo in a studio with a black blazer (what was that, velvet?) a white button-up and a smooth setting with a mixing board behind him. Riley, on the other hand, had what is now known as a full production team (and like his live performance a few weeks ago from his home studio, there was no social distancing being practiced) and once he kicked off his tunes (Face made him go first, which no one wants to do in these battles, "Seniority wins," said Face) it was doomed from the start.

@THEREALSWIZZZ x @Timbaland discussing the issues with #TeddyRileyVsBabyface pic.twitter.com/yPkjNAlbAg

— Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire) April 19, 2020

Riley's multiple mics and crowded space made for garbled and more so echoed tunes and took the punch away from his valued opener, "The Show" by Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew. He literally performed the '80s classic summer hip-hop hit like he was at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. His hype man was amped, but the viewing audience wasn't feeling it. Face was polite and even tipped his respect to the track, but then followed like the casanova crooner he is and toasted his champagne flute to the ladies in attendance and pressed play on his crisp sounding system and let the wailing intro of "Two Occasions," by his group with his producing partner/iconic music executive L.A. Reid, wash over the crowd. Just from resetting the tone from uptempo hip-hop to a classic slow-jam, let us know we were in for a long night of Face controlling the mood.

Most felt that the echo issue that Riley was having would sort its self out or would be handled by one of his many staffers on set, but it only got worse as Riley responded in the second round with the all-world dance theme, "Groove Me," by Guy. The deep synth groove is a surefire party starter, but the echo and his live-action performance were lost in a sea of comments that scrolled up the screen like, "What are you doing...Why do you have a hypeman...Stop and fix the sound, Teddy...What in the hell..." And that was the nice stuff. With an emphatic James Brown-like arm drop to stop the band, Riley finished the jam and knew he just sent Face a hard shot to the body. Face, ever the chilly willy, kind of chuckled and commented about how he first heard the song and liked it. He mentioned going into his list of artists to choose from for his next selection and talked about how they both worked with him to great success, then dropped the hammer with Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel." Ouch. It was clean, pumping and felt like an early dagger that would only plunge deeper if he was using it this early in the match.

A little light banter was kicked as they both gave anecdotes about the times surrounding those songs and it almost seemed like a stalling tactic for Riley as his team knew something was wrong, but seemed to not be checking the stream of "FIX THE SOUND...you are echoing," chants in the comments. They toyed a bit but went on into a good mid-range gem by Riley in "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)," by Texas quintet Hi-Five. Still beset with echo issues, right after the tune ends (a bit prematurely at that, as Face was playing his songs for two minutes or more) the talk about tech issues starts to get more robust. Face is cool with giving Riley time to figure it out, yet goes into another strong single with Bobby Brown and "Every Little Step." Again, it felt like another crystal clear banger that Riley wouldn't be able to match sound or energy-wise. And that's saying a lot as Riley has his own huge Bobby Brown hit to launch, but with the echo, it probably wouldn't work.

[email protected] also shared a video about their postponed #Verzuz battle. New date on the way! 🥊🥊 pic.twitter.com/fjAY74zED3

— Vibe Magazine (@VibeMagazine) April 19, 2020

So, at the end of round three, with the IG Live audience mainly giving the smooth operator Babyface the upper hand and straight clowning Riley's hypeman (memes and gifs of his homie were starting to pop up on Twitter and Instagram, DURING the battle) and sound issues, T.R.'s team calls a 20-second time out. He explains they need to get things right. They seem to also start wondering if it's Babyface's side that's causing their echo. The whole live feed, filled with celebs like Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey, Fabolous, Snoop Dogg, and so many music executives, comedians, entertainment stars and everyday people became expert sound technicians, "Take the Irig out, Teddy!" to "Just use the iphone speakers, Ted!" even "The issue is your side damn it." It got ugly. Folks were tee'd off for the fact that the situation was on Riley to fix since he had so much going on. All while Babyface threw a few shade covered remarks. When asked about fixing his side, "It's just me...you know social distancing and all."

After the brief break in action, Riley looked to redeem himself as the sound seemed to get a tad bit better. The echo was light, but the sound was low, damn near muffled and coming with no power or kick. Even though he was going hard in the paint to sell the same line up of songs, as he convinced Face to start from the top of round one AGAIN.

They sped through the rounds one more time with light convo, touching on cool stories about the same rounds of songs to ease the tension, but a little of the spark was gone and the comments were turning into tomatoes hurling at Riley. Deserved or undeserved, this performance was spiraling out of control. Comedian Michael Blackson asked, "Where are the promoters?" In the midst of a slow down in action, one of Riley's team members grabs the mic and announces that they would need to pause the battle for an extended amount of time. "We need to get the sound right, so we'll be back at 10:30 pm, about 30 minutes from now. So log back in around then." By this time Babyface had already dipped off-screen a few times (I assume to refill his champagne flute to walk to his awaiting warm bath---I kid.) and seemed to lose interest in trying to get Riley's attention when they clearly couldn't hear him. Before the end though, actor and R&B artist, Tyrese Gibson lobs a shot at Riley in the comments that ended up going viral for the wrong reason: "Throw in the tile." He surely meant "towel," but it was too late, the internet savages screen grabbed the line and dragged him over to Black Twitter to skew him over the BBQ. Why? 'Cause it was looking like the battle was over and there was nothing better to do (of course Tyrese fired back and blamed it on autocorrect).

 

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🤣🤣🤣 Y’all ain’t shit!! #TeamDL #Repost @royalewatkins with @get_repost ・・・ And so it begins!!!!

A post shared by realdlhughley (@realdlhughley) on Apr 18, 2020 at 7:34pm PDT

The live feed went out and most people huddled on the cool-out hill on the Black Twitter side of town. Quarantine life has deposited most of the in-the-know social media folks to mainland digital scapes and this battle had over 414k people wandering outside of the venue. The jokes started to pile up, memes of Teddy Riley looking like Theo from the Cosby show wearing the ill-fitting/misconstructed Gordon Gartrell shirt that his sister Denise made versus Babyface as the original pristine Gordon Gartrell shirt was floating around. (In hindsight, the fun of the night was in all of the jokes, they helped ease the tension.)

Swizz Beatz and Timbaland ran to their IG Live stations and expressed their respectful displeasure with Riley's setup but promised to get it right. It seemed like the show was going to resume at the delayed time until Babyface posted a video on his page saying that the show should be postponed and that they should do it another time. That put the fork in the whole ordeal and about 20 minutes after that, Riley also made a video expressing how technical difficulties held up the night and how they would get it right. "OUR apologies..." he stated. By then, most folks headed over to Club Quarantine on DJ D-Nice's IG Live, where he played a full set of Riley vs. Face songs. A DJ literally saved the night.

Hopefully, with all the greats that are involved in this super amazing Verzuz platform, they get the tech side going like they got the 20 tracks per artist with one verse and one hook rules implemented. All the big band production needs to scale down and some basic rules of engagement toward presentation by both parties have to be agreed upon. But with everything, there is a backstory, and this one will be told at some point...preferably over a good sound system.

"Yall, just sign back on in 30 minutes"

Babyface: pic.twitter.com/huQj3HhzUL

— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 19, 2020

500k people: We can’t hear you Teddy.

Teddy Riley: pic.twitter.com/Dw3SqbwrAw

— SB (@SBrown_) April 19, 2020

Teddy Riley sound be like... pic.twitter.com/FTyu3b9DUX

— Kevín (@KevOnStage) April 19, 2020

 

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All love @niariley. But damn 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

A post shared by Van Lathan (@vanlathan) on Apr 18, 2020 at 7:36pm PDT

 

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Ayo Teddy Riley...

A post shared by The Turntable Whisperer (@djscratch) on Apr 18, 2020 at 7:41pm PDT

Everybody watching #TeddyvsBabyface @IssaRae lol pic.twitter.com/vKdJ7Copoq

— #TeamFullSizeNigga (@DontaFromVA) April 19, 2020

Now it’s no sound. We got to wait 7 whole days for this? 🤣 pic.twitter.com/CcC2grMsGf

— Toni Braxton (@tonibraxton) April 19, 2020

Wait... pic.twitter.com/Wocp2lWTKz

— In the House Like Cool J. (@naima) April 19, 2020

Teddy’s hypeman dancing like what we all thought 2020 would be like 💃🏾 Teddy vs Babyface pic.twitter.com/jfbauDjPjc

— SuzieBeChoosy (@MissNoelSzn) April 19, 2020

 

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BABYFACE BATTLE POV 🤣🙄🤣🎸 . . #affioncrockett #comedy #babyface #teddyriley #verzuz

A post shared by Affion Crockett Comedy (@affioncrockett) on Apr 19, 2020 at 2:16am PDT

Babyface as soon as he got off the live: pic.twitter.com/yTVFjyprEF

— Jeremy Moon 🌙 (@jeffuhz) April 19, 2020

Listen, Babyface, Teddy Riley, Tyrese and Tamar are trending in a horrible year of 2020 in the middle of a pandemic, bringing laughter to our souls by accident. Maybe we needed this instead of the live music 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/s4a2AJ7rOx

— Kendra Ann (@KendraAnn4) April 19, 2020

Us: Fix the echo.

Teddy: pic.twitter.com/Id7GeWHGIb

— Thee Stallion of Troy 👑 (@smiilinbiig) April 19, 2020

Man imagine of Keenan Thompson and Micheal Che spoofed tonight’s fumble on SNL. Keenan as Babyface would make my night. pic.twitter.com/q503j0QV2i

— Huskegee Airman (@JLBarrow) April 19, 2020

Teddy Riley pic.twitter.com/2fA21buomg

— ANTHONY ADAMS (@spiceadams) April 19, 2020

We really turned disappointment into Twitter gold last night. Black people are so resilient lol.

— Sylvia Obell (@SylviaObell) April 19, 2020

 

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Tabernacle. #TeddyRiley #Verzuz #Charlamagne

A post shared by VibeMagazine (@vibemagazine) on Apr 19, 2020 at 7:32am PDT

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Flo Ngala

The Millennium Tour 2020: Pretty Ricky Returns To Heat Things Up

The energy inside the Chase Square at Madison Square Garden is electric. The Millenium Tour 2020 returned to New York City on a rainy Friday night (March 6), satisfying fans’ yearlong wait for the nostalgic vibes to arrive in the city that never sleeps.

Big hoop earrings and jersey dresses paint the picture inside the lobby while chatter amongst small groups of people about which artist on the bill will have the best set fills the air. "I'm here for Pretty Ricky," says one elated fan as she rushes to find her spot on the line waiting to enter the doors of the Hulu Theater. "My boys are back and I'm not missing out on this."

Around this time 15 years ago, the members of Pretty Ricky were beginning to make their debut in a crowded R&B scene that included other notable groups like Jagged Edge and 112. Their platinum-selling debut single "Grind With Me" charted at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and helped the group stand out by opening the door for listeners to explore their raunchy, steamy world.

Since that time, the group has experienced ups and downs. Their first two albums, Bluestars and Late Night Special, were certified Gold with the latter debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The success from their first two albums catapulted the group into superstardom, winning millions of fans across the world and touring with the likes of Omarion, Chris Brown and Bow Wow. Unfortunately, personal issues and inflated egos within the group caused friction and placed a hold on things for the next few years.

Fast forward to today, and Pretty Ricky is back to heat things up. As a part of The Millenium Tour 2020, the group joins Omarion, Bow Wow, Ashanti, Lloyd, the Ying Yang Twins and more on a 32-date tour across the country. It's the second time in two years that Pretty Ricky has hit the road with the first being last year's The Millenium Tour, and if anything, the group is having even more fun with it.

Pretty Ricky back in NYC like they never left on The Millennium Tour 2020#PRETTYRICKY#THROWBACK#THEMILLENNIUMTOUR2020 pic.twitter.com/7RODWvEbsH

— ME VKV DON DVDV 🇭🇹 (@BlackDynamite91) March 10, 2020

"There are stretchers outside just in case someone faints," Spectacular tells VIBE as the group prepares for a special meet-and-greet with fans before their set. "You know how Pretty Ricky does it."

"It feels like 2005 all over again," Pleasure P exclaims as fans screamed just outside the curtains. "All the girls got on their throwback stuff. The energy is great, and of course, we're banging them with hits every night and it feels good."

The hits were flowing as Pretty Ricky made a strong case that they were the best performers on the bill. During the lively set, rabid fans sang along to "Grind With Me," "Your Body" and "On The Hotline" while rocking to the first-ever live performance of the group’s newest single "Body." The Florida natives even showed they haven't missed a step hitting their trademark gyrations in silk white pajamas with precision.

First ever live performance of Pretty Ricky’s newest single “Body” in NYC. #THEMILLENNIUMTOUR2020#PRETTYRICKY#BODY pic.twitter.com/Ac41pzC4KL

— ME VKV DON DVDV 🇭🇹 (@BlackDynamite91) March 10, 2020

"We know this is exactly what the people need, that good music and that good feel from back in the 2000s," says Spectacular who also performed on stage in nothing but a towel halfway through Pretty Ricky's set. "We want to bring that same feeling back and it feels great being back on this tour to give the fans what they want."

"Every single night we get to come out here and create a nostalgic experience for them," Baby Blue adds. "It's kind of like we were the soundtrack to their life and it feels good to create that lifetime experience. They get to relive their high school moments or maybe the first time they lost their virginity, their first kiss or the first time they went out with their homegirls."

A few years ago it seemed Pretty Ricky would be no more after they put their issues front and center on VH1's Love & Hip Hop: Miami and tried numerous times to fix their problems. There were even reports of a fight breaking out backstage between Pleasure P and Baby Blue at a show in Phoenix in 2018, but Baby Blue assures the guys are more than good this time around.

"It's a family and the thing about that is sometimes you might get into disputes, or whatever, then two hours later you're hugging. That's the strength in family and it's good that it's like that with us," he says as Slick 'Em cracks a joke with Spectacular to the side. "Sometimes in other businesses you might not be able to voice how you feel about certain things and how it gets received. With family, you can voice those feelings, but you have the option to make a change and go back to that family member and tell them I apologize and I love you. I think that's what keeps us together because it's a family-based business."

Keep up with Pretty Ricky at @PrettyRicky on Twitter.

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