On Tuesday evening (Aug. 3), New York City—and the hip-hop community at large—was treated to a monumental Verzuz, as The LOX and Dipset, two of the most beloved, respected, and influential rap crews, battled it out to determine which faction truly dominated New York during their respective reigns.
The anticipated matchup instantly captivated rap fans, who took to various social media platforms to share their predictions on which group would come out on top and why. While many argued that Dipset had more higher-charting singles and albums, individually and collectively, others countered that The LOX’s bevy of culturally impactful street anthems and guest appearances would equalize The Dipolmats’ hits, thus scoring the victory for the Yonkers-bred trio.
New York emcees are notorious for their competitive nature, rarely allowing the opportunity to pass to get one-up on their peers and rivals and claim bragging rights based on their skill, metrics, or ability to move the crowd, lyrically, verbally, or in the age of social media, trollingly. This was certainly the case with The LOX and Dipset, both of whom have never been ones to shy away from confrontation and were key players in some of the most memorable rhyme wars and beefs in hip-hop history.
Upon news that the two groups would go toe-to-toe in the squared circle that is the Hulu Theater stage at Madison Square Garden, both crews wasted no time exchanging disparaging jabs on social media and proclaiming their supremacy come Aug. 3, particularly The LOX’s Styles P and Dipset’s Jim Jones, who became embroiled in a back-and-forth of memes and disrespectful slights that further ramped up anticipation for the showdown.
However, when the moment of truth arrived, which was streamed live via various platforms for the viewing pleasure of fans across the globe, the only thing that mattered was the music, with each group performing a mix of hit records, fan-favorites, and standout features.
And while Dipset had their moments, the overall consensus was that The LOX put forth the superior showing between the two crews, as the trio relied on their synergy, sheer skill, and stage presence to ward off their opposition’s succession of hits. While there was plenty of banter in between—and even during—the songs, ultimately, it was the music that swayed the crowd. The LOX responded to the crowd’s hunger for hardcore with cuts that may not have skyrocketed the Billboard charts or dominated radio airwaves but spoke to the core of what New York rap is all about…street shit.
The LOX may have asserted why they’re one of the greatest groups of their time, but Dipset also had their fair share of highlights, with the Harlemites refusing to go down without swinging, turning what initially appeared to be a sweep into a fairly competitive matchup towards the end. With Cam’ron and Jim Jones galvanizing the troops, Freekey Zekey adding comedic relief with his unpredictable antics, and Juelz Santana occasionally finding the fountain of youth and reminding the rap world of why he was once regarded as one of the top prospects in rap and a budding superstar. Dipset showed the grit and determination belied their flashy wardrobe and cocksure auras. However, in the end, it was not enough to stop The LOX from living up to the name of their classic sophomore album, We Are The Streets, as they proved they truly are just that and surely, three of New York’s finest.
With the announcement that The LOX and Dipset, along with the Beanie Sigel lead State Property, will be hitting the road together for an all-star tour which kicks off on Sept. 11, rap fans across the country can experience in person the same sense of euphoria that swept over those in attendance at Madison Square Garden last night.
With The LOX vs. Dipset edition now in the books and being hailed as a watershed moment for the culture, VIBE Magazine’s editorial staff give their respective takes on the most memorable moments from the night that made this Verzuz battle one of the best thus far.
DeMicia Inman, Staff Writer
I turned on the Verzuz between Dipset and The LOX with the same cockiness Cam’ron had when he recorded the intro to “Get Em Daddy Remix.” As a fan of hip-hop music with songs from both camps ranked in my all-time favorites, the Harlem clique had always been one of my favorite ensembles of musicians. Now, I did not underestimate The LOX, however, the showmanship and preparedness of Sheek Louch, Jadakiss, and Styles P resulted in a brutally entertaining display of competitiveness and skill. My night was fueled by witty banter between the performers on stage, and performances of hip hop classics. The three highlights of this Verzuz were Jadakiss’ stage presence, Cam’ron’s strong attempts to stay on the board, and the mutual respect shown as every man attempted to outrap the other.
Jadakiss came with the heat. He delivered a monster freestyle, dealt out insults with ease, and rapped his old tracks without hesitation. Together, himself, Styles P and Sheek Louch exposed the weak spots of their opposers who were seemingly unprepared to do a live battle of hits, taunting them for rapping over vocals, and responding perfectly to each track Dipset offered up.
“These ni**as don’t know what Grammy’s look like. They know what grams look like,” might have been my favorite jab to Dipset.
Dipset did not back down, however. Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, Cam’ron, and Freekey Zekey did what they thought was best to stay on point. They played a variety of group records and solo tracks as the crowd sang along, talking their own trash to the members of the LOX. Cam’ron even stopped rapping over vocals and the rest of the team eventually followed suit.
Overall as Sheek Louch reminded in closing, the Verzuz reminding viewers a good competition makes great hip hop. Also, “don’t scare the white people!” Ha. Classic.
Winner: The LOX
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) August 4, 2021
Christine Imarenezor, Executive Editor
Dipset came to party. The LOX came for blood. Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey, and Jim Jones brought the jams, but Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch brought the stadium anthems. Straight out the gate. From the battle rap- and boxing-inspired set design to the iconic Michael Buffer announcing the contenders, the hip-hop crews turned Verzuz‘s status of celebratory matchups to a refreshingly new level. The sh*t-talking banter and competitive energy brought on laughter and heavy doses of nostalgia. The camaraderie, mutual respect, and just all-around love for the genre reminded you of why you ever loved hip-hop in the first place.
Jadakiss dominated the stage and mic a rang our bell to say that he’s a beast on the mic. Cam’ron hit back with the same energy and tried to rep for his set just as hard. Yes, it was Harlem versus Yonkers, but in all honesty, it was New York, hip-hop’s birthplace that came out on top. Dipset and The LOX’s unforgettable match was one for the history books and easily one of the best Verzuz moments to date. It was definitely a dope way of kicking off hip-hop’s birthday month.
Winner: The LOX (and Jadakiss’ quotable jokes)
Preezy Brown, Hip-Hop Reporter
Being that I was a big Bad Boy and Ruff Ryders fan as a youth, and my high school years came in the thick of The Diplomats’ peak years, I was torn as to who I believed would pull out the victory when The LOX and Harlem’s finest faced off against one another. That said, in hip-hop, you have to choose a side and literally, at the last minute, I placed my bets on Dipset due to my thinking that their mix of hit records, mixtape material, and sheer cultural influence would slightly edge out The LOX’s barrage of bars and classic guest spots. Boy, was I wrong. From the proceedings leading up to the battle, when Cam’ron was nowhere to be found while The LOX appeared to be locked in and prepared for war, I should’ve known that the writing was on the wall. Jadakiss, Styles P, and Sheek Louch did not come for a celebration, but with the full intent to engage in verbal bloodsport. But it was when Dipset countered Jada and Styles’ “Banned From TV” verses with their 2004 single, “Crunk Muzik,” that the reality set in that this was gonna be a long night for Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, and Freekey Zekey.
Verzuz, to me, is the equivalent of a spades game. You can have a winning hand, but if you play the wrong cards at the wrong time, that winning hand won’t spare you from getting your ass handed to you on the table. Which is exactly what happened to Dipset for the first four rounds of the battle, until Jadakiss and Styles P’s incessant taunting forced Cam’ron, being the prideful, cocksure Harlemite that he is, to rise to the occasion and delve into his grab-bag to pull out some of the hardest material of his career. However, one of the unforeseen aspects of the battle was seeing Cam’ron, who’s notorious for being unfrazzled and being the one to get under other people’s skin with his wit and underhanded digs, be befuddled by Jadakiss, who put on a virtuoso performance, not only lyrically and performatively, but humorously. Chastising the Dips for rhyming over their own vocals and poking fun at Cam’ron for residing in Miami, yet repping New York, Jadakiss was the undoubted MVP of the night, playing to the hometown crowd with a flurry of standouts from his mixtape catalog, which gave diehard NYC rap fans a heavy dosage of nostalgia.
Another example of The LOX’s skill in the art of war was when Juelz Santana began to question The LOX’s lack of lady-friendly records, a moment that bordered on becoming another referendum on the aspect of homophobia within hip-hop but was quickly countered with a medley of The LOX’s bevy of r&b collabs with the likes of Mariah Carey and Jennifer Lopez, a testament to the trio’s versatility. Another deciding factor that led to The LOX’s W was their innate chemistry, built through nearly three decades worth of creative and personal relationships. For a good portion of the night, Dipset appeared out of sync and without a proper game-plan or tactical playbook but shored up their execution throughout the duration of the battle.
While the two crews took off the gloves in their verbal dustups and exchanges in between songs, in the end, both crews made it clear that there was no love lost, with Styles P and Jim Jones embracing one another in a brotherly manner, a reminder that rap artists can compete with one another without becoming at odds. Dipset may be one of the most culturally impactful movements in hip-hop history and are bonafide icons within New York City, but The LOX proved that when all is said and done, they may not have as many metrics or plaques as some artists or groups, but they do have a keen pulse on what moves the streets and residents of New York City at its core, which is what really counts.
P.S. There’s no past-time New Yorkers love more than randomly standing onstage at a rap concert for no apparent reason other than being onstage at a rap concert.
Winner: The LOX
— Finance Fairyy? (@kim_suave) August 4, 2021
Siobhan Dixon, News Editor
The Verzuz matchup between The LOX and Dipset was a master class in hip-hop—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you were watching sober, rest assured, the cliques consumed copious amounts of liquor and smoked enough weed both behind the scenes and onstage to have you—and clearly, some of them—feeling amply sauced. As the live audience and viewers at home waited for what I accurately predicted would be a CP start time, the testosterone, aggression, and competition for the crown was palpable.
Coming of age during the heyday of record labels like Bad Boy, Roc-A-Fella, Cash Money, and Ruff Ryders, naturally, my initial allegiance was to D-Block. And the legendary trio from Yonkers easily secured the win with mastery of lyrics, live performance, showmanship, and group chemistry.
Still, there’s no denying the entertainment factor Dipset brought to the stage. While The LOX opted for T-shirts, shorts, and the official footwear of NYC, Timberland boots, The Diplomats represented in true Harlem fashion. With their flashy clothes and jewels, antics and props (two words: beach chair), incessant s**t talking, and hilarious hype man—who did not holler when Freekey Zekey mockingly marched like a soldier during The LOX’s performance of “Mighty D-Block?”—Dipset certainly contributed to the show, but not the battle because there was simply no comparison between the two acts.
No autotune. No mumbling. No reliance on Instagram-friendly booty-poppin’ beats. No sporadic sound effects like “BAT” and “YA! YA! YA!” No descriptors like “washed up” and “old heads” used to refer to connoisseurs of the craft. This was about the music, the skills, and the talent. From start to finish, The LOX both embodied and represented the hood, hip-hop, and New York City in all its gritty glory.
Winner: The LOX
— 2Cool2Blog (@2Cool2BIog) August 4, 2021
Datwon Thomas, Editor-In-Chief
Last night’s Verzuz was one for the ages, not only for the battle song platform but also for the city of New York. It really showed how hardcore street rap from the ’90s and 2000s still holds weight and can keep a digital and live crowd engaged. With The LOX vs. Dipset, you have the two crews that rep the baggy gear era to the utmost. Some will argue that Styles P, Jadakiss, and Sheek Louch are more lyrical than their Harlem counterparts. Yet, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, and Cam’ron all hold the bars down as well.
What this particular battle came down to was the energy that was built up over the last few weeks with Jim and Styles trading slanderous jokes with one another on Instagram. The LOX came out with the type of energy that charged the building…and that building being the great Madison Square Garden.
Understanding the assignment and playing toward the blood-thirsty crowd was what The LOX did. Cam and his cooly dripped Dipset brothers came in on the chill side as Jadakiss took the lead and crushed from beginning to end. My favorite moment was Jada ripping into a mixtape freestyle against the “Who Shot Ya?” beat, killing the bars with pitbull fight intensity, and throwing his mic on the ground in surefire aggressive victory.
It was super hard to match that moment. All the jokes and such aside, Cam’ron woke up from that cool factor and started spittin’ with some energy. I feel like the mics, and the DJ’s timing on the Dips side could have affected things as well. But it comes down to momentum, which picked up later for the Dips…but it didn’t overtake The LOX when they started their medley of surprise hits. This night showed that the brotherhood of The LOX was more in sync and prepared than the family of The Dips. Yet, let’s see how the Harlem guys perform on this joint LOX and State Property tour that starts next month. I’m sure they’ll have things together and the bird will fly higher by then.
Winner: The LOX
— The Nu Geekz (@TheNuGeekz) August 4, 2021