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SWV and XSCAPE Went Head to Head in a Verzuz Battle —But Who Really Won?
After SWV and XSCAPE competed in a Verzuz battle, Kandi Burruss’ mother, Mama Joyce, disagreed with some of the results.
Who are the queens of ‘90s R&B music?
Well, music lovers will get to be reunited with two the biggest girl groups of the decade who could claim that title when SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B premieres on Bravo on Sunday, March 5 at 9:30/8:30c. However, it’s not as much of a reunion for these two groups, who are prepping for a special concert together when the show begins. SWV and XSCAPE recently went head to head in a singing battle for Verzuz — but between the two, who won the competition?
The song list from SWV and XSCAPE alone is enough to give the epic Verzuz showdown another look. Here’s a recap of what went down.
What is Verzuz?
Verzuz is a webcast series created by musicians Timbaland and Swizz Beatz that started during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as a virtual DJ battle, while we were all locked down and nostalgic for better times. The two faced off in the first Verzuz on Instagram Live in March 2020.
The series features two artists or groups highlighting their best hits in two 10-song rounds, all in a three-hour session. Many artists have since been featured, including Brandy, Monica, and Ludacris, among others.
Even though there’s no official winner, Billboard magazine shares scorecards from the battles.
What Did SWV and XSCAPE Perform at Verzuz?
On Mother’s Day weekend in 2021, Verzuz showcased SWV and XSCAPE — both groups dressed all in black — on a stage in Atlanta. You can check out the full Verzuz soundtrack on Tidal here.
SWV and XSCAPE took the time to remind everyone of the impact they had on ‘90s R&B. It began with XSCAPE performing The Clark Sisters' hit “Is My Living In Vain” a capella. SWV then followed with another song from The Clark Sisters: “Endow Me," which Cheryl “Coko” Gamble covered on her debut solo gospel album.
The two groups also showed off all the star power they courted for their hits. SWV performed “Someone” featuring Puff Daddy and “You’re The One” featuring JAY-Z. XSCAPE, meanwhile, performed 2016’s “Might Be” by DJ Luke Nasty as well as “Who Can I Run To” and “Keep on Keepin’ On” by MC Lyte.
Jermaine Dupri also joined XSCAPE onstage to perform their debut single “Just Kickin’ It.” Jermaine signed XSCAPE as the first group to the So So Def record label, which signed other huge acts like Da Brat and Lil’ Bow Wow. Da Brat even arrived to performed her verse from Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby (Mr. Dupri’s Extended Mix)” with the group as a tribute to the label.
Many of the women have created hits as writers outside their own groups, so they showed fans at Verzuz the incredible reach of their talent. Kandi Burruss of XSCAPE sang Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills” and performed her verse on E-40’s “U and Dat” featuring T-Pain. Kandi also teamed up with Tameka “Tiny” Harris to sing one of their best-known writing hits: “No Scrubs” by TLC. LaTocha Scott of XSCAPE, meanwhile, performed “Thug Holiday” by Trick Daddy.
Coko of SWV performed Will Smith’s “Men in Black” which featured her powerhouse vocals. SWV also sang their hit “Right here (Human Nature Remix),” which samples Michael Jackson.
SWV and XSCAPE’s Friendship Displayed as a Verzuz Winner Is Announced
Although billed as a “battle,” the Verzuz featured plenty of sweet moments of love and support between SWV and XSCAPE. Tamara “Taj” Johnson-George joined XSCAPE on their platform at one point, and Coko sang along with XSCAPE to “Who Can I Run To.”
But ultimately, Billboard dubbed SWV the “winner” of the Verzuz, although it gave XSCAPE credit for a wider, more diverse catalogue of songs. Billboard named the final score as 13-11 for SWV.
Not everybody agrees with Billboard’s take on who the winner was. Kandi Burruss’ mother, Mama Joyce Jones, known for her outspoken takes on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, said on Kandi’s Instagram after the show that “SWV was good, but XSCAPE beat them.”
Kandi laughed it off, saying, “You know my mama. She is going to show favoritism. Everybody did a great job. Love SWV.”
But Kandi also thinks XSCAPE could take on another famous girl group altogether next time — and win.
On an episode of Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, she and rapper Lil’ Jon had to decide who would win in singing battles. When Andy asked who would take it if Destiny’s Child went head to head with XSCAPE, Kandi said, “Oh, really?! We the OGs!” while Lil’ Jon chanted “XSCAPE! XSCAPE!” next to her.
You can watch the whole SWV vs. XSCAPE Verzuz here as you get ready to hear the hit songs from SWV and XSCAPE again in Bravo’s SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B, premiering on Bravo on Sunday, March 5 at 9:30/8:30c.