The announcement, which was posted on the official Verzuz Twitter account, was made on June 29, a mere two days before the actual showdown, making it the quickest turn-around for a Verzuz thus far. The platform has also partnered with Essence, which will stream the event on its Instagram account and website as part of the 2021 Essence Festival, which is currently ongoing through Sunday, July 4.
— VERZUZ (@verzuzonline) June 30, 2021
“SURPRISE CELEBRATION!” the Twitter post breaking news, read. “See y’all THURSDAY! @OGKeithSweat vs @KingBobbyBrown. Honored to partner w/ @ESSENCE to bring you this special #VERZUZ. Thursday 7/1 5PM PT/8PM ET WATCH on @Triller, @FITETV, VERZUZ IG, ESSENCE IG or ESSENCE.COM. Drinks by @Ciroc #EssenceFest.” As two of the biggest R&B stars during the late ’80s and early ’90s who, along with Teddy Riley, played a pivotal role in cultivating and popularizing New Jack Swing, Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat were often touted as kings of the sub-genre, with each churning out massive hits that would grow to become timeless.
Brown, who began his career as a member of New Edition in the early ’80s, broke away from the group in 1985 to pursue a solo career, first releasing the tepidly received debut, King of Stage, before dropping the multi-platinum smash, Don’t Be Cruel, in 1988. Producing five Top-Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including the titular track, “Roni,” “Every Little Step,” “Rock Wit’cha,” and the Hot 100 chart-topping single, “My Prerogative,” Don’t Be Cruel would sell over twelve million records worldwide and was the best selling album of 1989. Brown would release his third studio album, Bobby, more than four years later in 1992, which also spawned numerous hits, most notably “Humpin’ Around” and the Whitney Houston duet, “Something in Common.”
Inking a record deal with Vintertainment through Elektra Records, Sweat’s debut album, Make It Last Forever, was a runaway success, selling over three million copies and producing the Top 5 hit, “I Want Her,” and its titular slow jam, which reached No. 2 on the R&B charts. Building on the momentum with his sophomore album I’ll Give All My Love to You (1990), Sweat would become a mainstay on the R&B and Pop charts, with songs like “Make You Sweat,” “I’ll Give All My Love to You,” “Nobody,” “Twisted,” “Just A Touch,” and a plethora of classic album cuts certifying him as one of the greatest male vocalists of his generation.
While it’s unclear if Brown and Sweat will be relegated to drawing from their solo discographies, or if tunes from their respective work with New Edition and LSG will also be included in the mix, what we do know is that this Verzuz will be a night to remember. For all of us New Jack Swing and R&B lovers, we may finally be able to say who is the rightful King of New Jack Swing with this highly anticipated heavyweight music match.