On Sunday, March 31, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari finally heeded the calls of numerous Nigerians on social media. He appeared for an extended period of time and delivered the inevitable – Lagos and Abuja will be on lockdown for 14 days, save for certain enterprises. For some Nigerians like this writer, it continued the trend of work-from-home.
For others, it was much-needed relief as their companies would not have granted them a break. More than ever before, millennials and generation zers are camped out on the internet, seeking the most exciting avenue to exert their energies on. For a long time now, TikTok and Triller content and #Challenge Culture have kept things interesting – shout-out to our beautiful women.
But over the weekend, things changed as Americans – who are also on lockdown – upped the ante. First off, it was a battle of songwriters to keep people interested as legendary songwriters, The Dream and Sean Garrett locked friendly horns to play a came of manhood swinging and measurement. We also discovered that The Dream was on the initial hook of Jay Z‘s smash hit single, ‘Holy Grail’ which eventually featured Justin Timberlake.
While it seemed a battle driven by pure machismo, it wasn’t. It was a moment that helped people get their minds off the coronavirus ravaging the world. Next up, it was NeYo vs Johnta Austin in another battle of songwriters. As Dream and Garrett went at it, Twitter NG wanted its piece of the action to leave its footprints on the digital sands of time.
Thus, they instigated a few battles and threw certain names in the air. Luckily, one battle stuck; Sarz vs Shizzi. Both hitmakers whom Pulse Nigeria ranked at three and four respectively on a list of the top 10 producers of the 2010s gracefully accepted the challenge and they both posted digital artworks.
Now, these are great men who have helped shape the era of modern Nigerian music that’s purely driven by pop. While Sarz is a 15-year veteran whose career started with The Trybesmen and Eldee as a teenager while Shizzi made the earliest of his seven-year stay in South Africa, they are contemporaries who matter to the creation and the exportation of Nigerian pop music.
On the morning which the duel tagged, ‘Battle of The Hits‘ was set, good news came on the coronavirus front. The FDA had approved hydroxychloroquine as an emergency treatment for coronavirus while another doctor had 100% recovery rate with 619 patients he treated with hydroxychloroquine, zinc and another drug. The mood was lifted, but people were still dying.
Battle of The Hits
Nonetheless, Nigerians had something to look forward to. It took the edge off and created a needed diversion. At 10 pm, Sarz came online first and seconds later, Shizzi joined him with a face mask. Ladies and gentlemen, the comments were filled.
Attendees included Davido, Don Jazzy, Kel P, Peruzzi, ECool, Bizzle Osikoya, Ayomide Tayo and more. Later on, legendary American producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz joined the viewers and it was epic. For two hours and thirty minutes, Nigerians ravaged the comments section with emojis, clout-chasing, fake depth, excitement, side-picking and fleeting scoreboards.
What many thought would have been a bloodbath in favour of Sarz turned into an enduring battle as Shizzi gave an amazing account of himself. At its height, Shizzi and Sarz had 22.2K live viewers across the world. Throughout the time, the men traded hits upon hits and showed each other measured respect – especially Shizzi.
In total, Shizzi and Sarz played a total of 81 songs – Sarz played 41 songs while Shizzi played 40 within two hours and thirty-two minutes. Some of the key moments were purely driven by nostalgia and excitement or even both. For a lot of people, they didn’t realize Shizzi produced ‘Rands and Naira (Remix)’ and Wizkid‘s ‘Body‘ until the battle began.
For Sarz, people know him by his tags. His key moments were purely driven by nostalgia when he played songs like ‘Ghetto’ by Shank, ‘Joor Oh‘ by Jahbless and ‘See Drama‘ by Lord of Ajasa. It was also interesting when Shizzi said he doesn’t know YQ‘s ‘I Like Girls’ which was produced by Sarz. It’s not Shizzi‘s fault, he was not in the country at the time.
Shizzi forced Sarz to come into the 2010s where he (Shizzi) excelled. Sarz obliged and they battled.
Unreleased music – Wizkid as his own worst enemy
One of the greatest talking points on the night; unreleased music. Sarz went into the infamous ‘hard drive music’ of Wizkid and pulled out his original ‘One Dance‘ verse. Now, this is longer and more detailed than the one Black Coffee had. At some point, it seems Wizkid actually wrote a significant chunk of the song.
Sarz also played two other Wizkid releases; a song which Wizkid features Swizz Beatz on and another ridiculous song on which Wizkid sang in patois. For his part, Shizzi played an amazing song by Davido featuring Wale, he played a Davido and Akon song and then played an unreleased version of Davido‘s ‘Blow My Mind’ featuring Meek Mill.
All in all, the biggest takeaway from the unreleased music session is that Wizkid is his own worst enemy. Those three unreleased songs are better than anything he released in 2019. He doesn’t even need to break a sweat to record new songs for Made In Lagos if he has songs of that calibre in his hard drive.
Instead of dropping quality songs, uncle has been busy releasing ‘vibes’ and ‘vibes’ of monotonous music for the better part of two years. Wizkid can do better, I hope he realizes he’s a legend now.
Sarz. To be honest, Shizzi played some amazing records, but Sarz‘s status, versatility and dexterity as one of the greatest Nigerian producers of all time shone through. To be honest, the gap might seem close, but it was slightly wide.
For example, when Shizzi played an unknown song, Sarz played ‘Lalakukulala‘ by Oladips and Olamide. When Shizzi played ‘Gbagbe Oshi,’Sarz played ‘Codeine Diet.’
As Nigerian Journalist and former Pulse Senior Editor noted, “Verdict for me. Both Shizzi and Sarz have bangers but Sarz has more culturally shifting and defining songs.” Everytime Shizzi played a banger, Sarz responded with something equal or bigger. However, Shizzi didn’t respond everytime Sarz dropped a mega hit. Sarz also showed mega versatility.
Nonetheless, Shizzi did own spells like the South African Gqom and Kwaito sounds.
Memes and Gifs: Shizzi and the ladies vs Sarz, the ‘proud guy’
Throughout the battle, Sarz cut a cocky outlook while Shizzi was ebullient and respectful. Sarz said ‘That’s cute’ in the most condescending and sarcastic tones to some of Shizzi‘s monster moves. It was either a calculated move to get Shizzi of his game or the mood of a naturally cocky person. Whatever it was, both men have earned the right to be who they are.
Nonetheless, Twitter is reacting to it. Women think Sarz is cocky while Shizzi is a sweetheart. Sarz‘s perpetually unimpressed looks also birthed some memes. Whatever it was, Sarz and Shizzi showed each other love and respect by the time the battle was over. Sarz said, “I love you, brother” while Shizzi introduced his beautiful young daughter to Sarz.
Both men then nominated Rexxie vs Kel P and Pheelz vs Masterkraft as the next battle.
What is life without Poco Lee?
I’ll tell you what, nothing. Throughout the two-hour duration, Poco Lee was busy infusing adlibs and anecdotes into the conversation. Here are some;
Davido and Wizkid reign supreme
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s no coincidence anymore than almost anything comes down to Davido vs. Wizkid. Right now on Twitter, Davido and Wizkid are trending for what simply happened on Battle of The Hits. When you are a legend, you are a legend. Give it up for both men.
What does it mean for the future?
First off, let’s say shout-out to Shizzi and Sarz. They brought great fun to a tough situation. Thank you for taking the time out. You’ve both contributed a great deal to this industry. God bless you, kings. Here’s to more…
Then, let’s just say these coronavirus times have birthed a new reality and the world will never remain the same again. There is a lot of money to be made off online events. Already, e-concerts have been explored by YouTube. The best thing about these events is that, anybody from anywhere can experience them and sponsors stand to make a lot of money with product placement.
What it also means is that in a world where TikTok and Triller threaten the video feature of Instagram, Instagram Live might be about to make a comeback as a cash cow – now that will be interesting over the next two years. Nonetheless, before the world returns to normal – hopefully soon – we would have burned a lot of data on these types of content.
There’s more to come.