On Thursday July 1, as part of a collaboration between EssenceFest and Verzuz, Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat, two kings of the stage (pun intended), took to the stage to compete in the Battle Royale series created by the pandemic.
Since I watched it on my FITE app, I actually have no idea how many people were watching – although I imagine quite a few – and although I was on Twitter tweeting, I Didn’t really prepare any social media comments on this in real time. I was excited about a lot of Verzuz, but this one featured one of my favorite artists, Bobby Brown and Keith Sweat, two veterans of the game who would either have stories for days – no story was to be told. – or shenanigans for days – the shenanigans escalated, mostly from Keith, as the night wore on. Here are some thoughts:
1. I know we’ve long passed the ‘battle’ part of Verzuz – at this point it’s really just a celebration of the music of artists we love – but I expected it to be. be a fairly even battle. While Bobby Brown is at or near the top of my personal list of favorite artists, Keith Sweat has a sneaky catalog of jams, hits, and babymakers that is sort of unmatched. What I didn’t expect was Keith Sweat murdering Bobby Brown. Whoever picked Bobby’s set, especially the order, set Bobby up for the failed jump. Maybe it was Bobby. Maybe Bobby was there to share and Keith was there to win. And phew Chile, Keith has set up a clinic. For my money, I’m pretty happy too. I don’t think Keith’s contributions to music get the appreciation they maybe deserve. He laid it all out last night. The fact that we have a Bobby’s song Don’t be cruel album rolled out the door and then a litany of crap that no one wanted to hear until the end of the second half? Fail, fail, fail. Bobby was like, “Hits? Who only plays hits in Verzuz? He clearly didn’t understand the mission.
2. You can tell Keith is still spinning and hitting the old lady’s tours and shit. He seemed to be staying in good shape; he still has a showmanship, and when he gets drunk, which he clearly was by the time he got to the end, he becomes downright fun, mean, and goofy, which I’m sure is. total joy on one of those cruises where you pack only white linen clothes for seven consecutive days.
3. I can’t face – and I’ve sent this message to several people – at one point I was just praying that Bobby would go through with tact. He was NOT on his conditioning game before this show last night. He was sweating and having trouble breathing before the end of his second song. During the second half, however, he was there standing there the entire time, dancing and singing to all of Keith Sweat’s songs, providing backing vocals. It’s like he knew he lost, so he just had fun – had fun – but had fun.
4. Since we all know they provide songlists in advance, how the hell did Keith Sweat accuse Bobby Brown of cheating by playing songs from the new edition, songs where he sang (well? that we’ve heard way too much about Ralph in “Mr. Telephone” Man “and” Jealous Girl “), and then he also had LSG songs and songs he wrote on his setlist. Bobby was on every song he had. ‘he was playing. Keith told this man he cheated seven times.
5. We have to get back to Keith Sweat and his intoxication. I saw someone tweet (forgive me I couldn’t find that fucking tweet) something that actually surprised Bobby Brown on stage and we were all worried about how drunk he was. the other guy. Keith was singing in front of Ciroc glasses, blocking the show for no reason, essentially playing with Bobby and anyone who was apparently watching for no other purpose than their own shits and laughs. I was wondering how many shots of brown liquor (you can’t convince me that Keith and Bobby weren’t drinking the best brandy backstage; that Ciroc shit was for sponsorship purposes) they were taking backstage and maybe- being that Keith kept coming in and Bobby was like, “I can barely breathe, I can only be one.”
6. At one point, and after we all realized that Bobby lost big at first, Keith just wasn’t fair, giving up the songs he wrote for Silk, Johnny Kemp, and Guy. When he played “Let’s cool down”—Which was EVERYBODY’s song when it fell in 1990; I remember my older sister playing this song on repeat for what seemed like months – Bobby literally thought he was Aaron Hall and sang the whole damn song, which was a fun subplot of it. Verzuz: Bobby could barely breathe but literally sang all of Keith’s songs as if he was writing them. Meanwhile, I’m not sure Keith Sweat has ever heard Bobby’s classic and jamtastic third album (yes i said it) Police officer, which was either a troll or a fucking shame because this album is so good.
7. While I was very happy that Ja Rule and Bobby’s “Thug Lovin ‘” made an appearance, NOBODY expected to hear this or the new “Jealous Girl” or “Girlfriend” edition, the TRASH ALBUM VERSION OF “You Don’t Have to Worry,” or the song by Damian Marley. It’s FIVE Lost Records. Keith Sweat? He hasn’t wasted any jams other than the song with Snoop, but looking back I see that some people liked this song.
8. I really think this Verzuz could have benefited from a real audience. Bobby lives for the stage. It was a little too quiet for my taste in there, especially considering who was on stage. Keith puts on shows all the time in some way or capacity with people of likely varying mobility. Bobby needed energy. Shit wouldn’t have corrected this set list. Shame what they did to that, dog.
9. On a Verzuz’s people’s guest list, Tank and Pleasure P are literally the “most random, no one would ever guess” pair of all time. Obviously they were just in the audience and one producer thought Bobby was going to pass out from backing and forth too frequently and thought, “What if you all go up there and dance a foretaste? ”
10. You can tell that Bobby and Keith are probably really good friends and had a big shit together back in the day because otherwise the way Keith whipped his ass and said shit, Bobby Brown should have refueled Patrick Beverley on Keith Sweat over there, and you never go all-in on Patrick Beverley. There was a moment or two where I felt like Bobby was like, “He’s my man, he’s just been drinking and I know a thing or two about pissing people off and saying shit when I drink and can’t breathe and / or fight because I can’t see oxygen tanks. Anyway, it was great to see both OGs in the game on stage, and Bobby Brown is now and forever will be a treasure and hopefully more people will realize the same about Keith Sweat.
11. Last random thing based on how the show went last night: You’d never realize that for maybe three years Bobby Brown was literally one of the greatest things in black music without him. Jackson last name. This makes me sad.