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This weekend, thanks to the ongoing quarantine, another epic battle between two legends is taking place on Instagram Live.
RZA and DJ Premier are gearing up to face off for the Verzuz series, which was launched by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland in March. RZA and Preemo began the battle around 9 p.m. ET, with both giving a history of how they met each other in 1990, giving a head nod to a demo tape of GZA's called Pass the Bone and the fact that Fly Ty bought RZA's first beat for $500.
Preemo and RZA both came out swinging, with the Gang Starr member playing JAY-Z's "A Million and One Questions" versus RZA, who wielded GZA's "Liquid Swords." The next round saw Premier playing M.O.P.'s "Breakin' the Rules" against RZA's Method Man song "Bring the Pain." During round 3, Preemo brought out Mos Def's "Mathematics" and RZA, Cappadonna's "Maria."
The competition heated up—and RZA's sound was soon fixed—as Premier came through with Big L's "The Enemy" and RZA played Raekwon's "Wu Gambinos." Preemo followed with KRS One's "MC's Act Like They Don't Know" and RZA, Ghostface and Jadakiss' "Run."
Both spun posse cuts: Preemo with Das EFX's "Real Hip-Hop" and RZA with Wu-Tang's "Shame on a N***a." Premier returned with another iconic track, Group Home's "Livin' Proof" and RZA hit him with a transcendent classic, Wu's "Protect Ya Neck." Preemo then played D'Angelo's "Devil's Pie" and RZA, GZA's "Cold World."
RZA reached for yet another classic Wu anthem, Method Man's "Wu-Tang Clan." Premier fired up Gang Starr's "Just to Get a Rep." RZA reached for a Ghostface cut, "Motherless Child," while Preemo ran Hov's "D'Evils." Preemo ran another classic, Nas' "Nas is Like," and RZA threw on Raekwon's "Verbal Intercouse."
In the following rounds—to complete the full 20-song battle—Premier played Gang Starr's "The ? Remainz," Notorious B.I.G.'s "Unbelievable," Jeru the Damaja's "Come Clean," Biggie's "Kick in the Door," Gang Starr's Wu collab "Above The Clouds," Nas' "N.Y. State of Mind," Gang Starr's classic "Dwyck," Royce Da 5'9's "Boom," and Biggie's "Ten Crack Commandments."
RZA threw on the Wu gem "Buck 50," The Chef's "Ice Cream," ODB's "Brooklyn Zoo," ODB's classic "Shimmy Shimmy Ya," his own Biggie cut "Long Kiss Goodnight, Pretty Tony cut "Assassination Day," Raekwon and Ghostface's "Criminology," Raekwon's "Incarcerated Scarfaces," and Method Man and Mary J. Blige's "You're All I Need."
The pair continued to go back-to-back and played more songs in an "overtime" round. Those songs included "Ten Crack Commandments," "C.R.E.A.M.," "Mass Appeal," "Dark Fantasy," "Triumph," and more.
RZA also let loose a snippet of a new Joey Badass song.
In an interview with Complex, RZA explained how the bout came to be, and his reason for participating. "Swizz reached out," RZA said. "This is something we’re doing for culture. People could take it as a fight, a battle, whatever they want, but it's more about us celebrating the culture of hip-hop. I'm a big fan of DJ Premier."
RZA continued, "So the cool thing is that we're still here as icons, and as foundations of hip-hop in many ways, and for us to get together and show people where that energy came from in hip-hop."
The Wu-Tang rapper also touched on how the pandemic has impacted his own work, explaining that he was set to release his film Cut Throat City on April 10, which was supposed to premiere at this year’s canceled South by Southwest. He had been working on the movie for three years.