It’s only been two years since Swizz Beatz and Timbaland launched Verzuz as a fun way to connect fans through Black music during a dark, confusing, frustrating, and lonely time across the globe. Now, in collaboration with Amazon Studios, Lena Waithe’s Hillman Grad Productions, and Good Trouble Studios comes Gifted & Black—a documentary inspired by Verzuz.
The film will explore “the traditions of Black music to connect, going from the plantation to the Pulitzer Prize,” as reported by Deadline. It is intended to frame said traditions “in the context of the collective resiliency fundamental to the Black experience set against the backdrop of the pandemic and the recent racial reckoning” while detailing the growth of Verzuz. Good Trouble Studios’ James Adolphus is set to direct with Waithe co-producing alongside Swizz and Tim.
“I’m grateful to Swizz and Tim for trusting us with something so historic,” Waithe shared in a statement. “Verzuz is more than just two artists going song-for-song. It’s a testament to the power of Black people. It’s the joyful celebration of legacy that we all needed. With this documentary, we’re excited to take audiences behind the scenes of this global phenomenon, while also paying tribute to the artists that shaped us. We could not be more grateful to Amazon for seeing the vision, and this film wouldn’t be possible without our amazing filmmakers, James Adolphus and Ben Selkow. They have flown to every city, interviewed every artist, and continue to capture history as it happens. We can’t wait for the world to see how this whole thing comes together.”
Swizz Beatz added, “When we first started this mission the entire world had hit rock bottom. People were going through so much and Tim and I felt we should do something to help folks escape. The rest is history, we made the magical call to Hillman Grad because we only wanted people to see the best of the best.”
Timbaland also chimed in to express, “Swizz and I are excited to show the world everything that took place behind scenes during the process, while celebrating the artists that helped us build Verzuz. Thank you to our entire team, Hillman Grad, James Adolphus, Ben Selkow, Amazon, Triller, and everyone involved. Verzuz came from our love of culture and our love of music and the fact that it has become the force it is today is way beyond anything Swizz or I could’ve imagined.”
Through a series of interviews and archival footage, Gifted & Black will offer pivotal insight into how Black music serves as an encouraging, redemptive unifier during the darkest of times.