When the Verzuz matchup between Snoop Dogg and DMX was first announced, we knew we were in for something special. Beyond the catchy Battle of the Dogs title, the battle presented an opportunity for two living legends from opposite coasts to get together, swap stories, and play hit after hit after hit.
It lived up to the hype.
Wednesday night’s battle was viewed by over two million people on Instagram, plus countless more on Apple Music. Everyone who tuned in was treated to two hours of decades-spanning hits (plus a few freestyles) from two icons. Still buzzing from the success of the event, members of the Complex staff came together to share our favorite moments, name who we thought won the battle, and answer the question: Was this the best Verzuz battle yet?
How did this compare to other ‘Verzuz’ battles?
Eric Skelton: At the end of the battle, Snoop Dogg said, “This is what Verzuz was always supposed to be,” and he was right. It really doesn’t get better than this. Snoop has a deeper catalog than anyone who has participated in Verzuz so far, and he also happens to be one of the most purely entertaining humans alive. Throw in DMX, an absolute legend in his own right, and you have a truly historic moment. Streaming in high definition on Apple Music, Swizz and Timbaland also pulled off a better user experience than they have in the past. The order of the songs was pre-selected, so this battle lost some of the spontaneity of past matchups, but it will still go down as the best Verzuz yet.
Donnie Kwak: It’s neck and neck with Jill Scott vs. Erykah Badu as the top Verzuz overall, and it edges out DJ Premier vs. RZA as the best hip-hop one. Feel-good vibes from start to finish, with two living legends who’ve seen it all and thankfully survived to tell the tales. Honestly, Snoop should be the permanent host of Verzuz from now on.
Jessica McKinney: The new set-up took some getting used to. I preferred the thrown-together aspect of the previous battles where two artists hopped on Instagram Live and randomly shuffled through their songs, but the Battle of the Dogs ran much smoother than some of the earlier battles. The video quality was clear and there were no technical glitches. With the logistics out of the way, we got to see two OGs appreciating and celebrating their legacy in rap.
Shawn Setaro: This was the best of the bunch. The camaraderie, and the fact that it was essentially a two-hour concert made it unique. And, like all great rap concerts, it ended with freestyling and breakbeats.
Frazier Tharpe: Despite its name and ethos, Verzuz is about celebration and camaraderie at its core. We’ve had some contentious face-offs in the spring but this whole operation is really about uplifting the culture’s legends and taking in the breadth of their accomplishments and skill. It’s a reminder, reaffirment, and for some viewers at least, an orientation. When the opponents are locked in, but still showing mutual respect, is when the battles are at their best; maybe it’s because we’re all collectively rooting for DMX’s health or because Snoop is one of the most charming entertainers of a generation, but regardless, Battle of the Dogs jumps into the top three.
Lucas Wisenthal: It was better, in large part because I didn’t have to watch it via phone mirrored on TV. Snoop and X also sounded good—which was surprising, especially in the case of the latter—and had the charisma and chemistry to hold my attention for two hours. This is peak adult contemporary rap.
Eric Skelton: I’m tempted to say “Snoop Dogg’s dance moves,” because we’ll be seeing GIFs of his all-knees-and-elbows shimmying for years, but “Slippin” was the moment that will stay with me the longest. When X finished an emotional rendition of his 1998 classic, Snoop dapped him up and said what we were all thinking at home: “I’ve got chills, like I walked in a freezer. Damn.” X responded, “That’s the beauty of the truth. It ain’t about you being ashamed of anything. It’s about you saying it to help somebody else. Write that pain.” Wise words from a legend.
Donnie Kwak: Seeing two undeniable rap icons ad-libbing on each other's classics: instant serotonin boost. And the freestyle session at the end—chef's kiss.
Jessica McKinney: Seeing the camaraderie between Snoop and DMX throughout the entire event was amazing. We’ve seen that in previous battles (Erykah Badu vs. Jill Scott), but having both artists in the same room together heightened the moment. They danced together, patted each other on the backs, and swapped vet stories. Despite coming up on opposite sides of the country, they were able to appreciate one another’s craft, which isn’t something we always get to see. This felt more like a family cookout than a face-off.
Shawn Setaro: The best moments were when each artist would act as an impromptu hypeman for the other. Just seeing Snoop and X respond as fans to each others’ music was priceless.
Frazier Tharpe: Everyone ignoring the one verse rule and letting X ride out on the iconic second verse of “What These Bitches Want.” You weren’t shit back in grade school if you didn’t have X’s list of ladies memorized. Watching “about three Kims!” tweets proliferate the timeline was beautiful.
Lucas Wisenthal: X performing “Who We Be.” Also X announcing he had to “drain the lizard.”
Eric Skelton: DMX’s comeback. After Snoop opened with a huge lead, it looked like X was in over his head, but he turned things around in the middle rounds. As Snoop stumbled with poor song selection, X countered with classics like “Money, Cash, Hoes,” “What They Really Want,” and “X Gon' Give It To Ya,” winning several rounds in a row. This turned out to be a lot closer than most of us thought.
Donnie Kwak: We knew going in that Snoop would be the clear winner. He has 3 No. 1 pop songs and 11 Top 10 hits; DMX has zero of either. But X's energy and song selection kept it fairly competitive, and we should never underestimate the chokehold he had on the rap game in the late ’90s. Not a surprise, maybe, but a reminder.
Jessica McKinney: “Slippin” vs. “Murder was the Case.” I knew they had it in their arsenals, but for some reason, I didn’t expect them to play it during the battle. The comments section on the Instagram Live feed was also in shock. Adding to the moment, after X played “Slippin,” he encouraged the younger generation of rappers to “write that pain.” It was a subtle, yet powerful moment.
Shawn Setaro: The biggest surprise was when DMX revealed that something Snoop said offhandedly to X at a casual meeting was the inspiration for “Get At Me Dog.” X said that, to his knowledge, Snoop was the only other person in the world who knew that prior to last night.
Frazier Tharpe: “Party Up” ringing off. I thought bridge and tunnel bars ruined that song for life but back in X’s hands it was classic again.
Lucas Wisenthal: Honestly, X. Yes, Snoop sounded impeccable, as though for him time had stopped in, like, September 1996, months before he dropped Tha Doggfather. But X, who has lived a life of high highs and abysmal lows, was more prepared (and even polished) than I’d expected, rifling off about five years’ worth of hits I’ve called guilty pleasures for the past 20.
Eric Skelton: Everyone loves Uncle Snoop, but it’s easy to forget just how impressive his run has been over the past three decades. He didn’t even get around to playing classics like “Still D.R.E.," and he still put together 20 songs that could hold up next to the catalog of any other living legend. Somehow, he’s also managed to become even more likeable with age, which can’t be said about some of his peers. There’s truly no one like Snoop Dogg.
Donnie Kwak: Snoop is as good at rapping as anyone is good at anything. Seriously. Flawless delivery, cadence, breath control—and he sounds as good now as he did in ’93. He was born to do this. Also, not for nothing, he’s the poster child for daily weed use being a key to long-term mental acuity. Imagine how many rap lines Snoop has spit in his life. He didn't flub a bar on Verzuz, and he went deep into his catalog.
Jessica McKinney: Verzuz isn’t just for quarantine. It’s here to stay.
Shawn Setaro: The biggest takeaway—though it’s far from a revelation—is just how timeless both artists’ catalogs are. During Verzuz, Snoop took it all the way back to “Deep Cover,” and X—other than an amusing evening-ending excerpt from a late-’80s freestyle—stayed largely in his late-’90s/early-aughts bag. Yet all of the songs still had the impact of their heyday. “Slippin’” is so gripping that it can move everyone from a teenager to a district court judge; and Snoop’s songs have such staying power that we still know every word of “Fuck Wit Dre Day” decades later, well after both targets of that diss track have moved on—Rest in Power to Eazy-E and Tim Dog.
Frazier Tharpe: This is less so a personal revelation for me and more something I hope the masses take away from last night: DMX is a legend. Yes, almost no one would disagree, given the storied tales of his run and classic songs, but going into this battle, the widespread assertion that X would be washed was very disconcerting to see. X isn’t just a legend off of veteran status, guys. His first two albums are classics, top to bottom, to say nothing of the hits across the next three, or his feature verses (salute “Money Power Respect” and “Money, Cash, Hoes”). His catalog has the range, and it says more about Snoop that he handily won than it does the Dark Man.
Lucas Wisenthal: Snoop will never sound old. And I’m ready for a new DMX album.
Eric Skelton: Snoop Dogg won this, as expected. After witnessing his performance here, I don’t think there are many rappers alive who could compete with Snoop in a battle like this. The shortlist includes Jay-Z, Kanye, Lil Wayne, Drake, and not many others.
Donnie Kwak: X held his own admirably, and has a singular energy that made him a worthy opponent. Ultimately, though, it was Tunnel Bangers vs. Global Bangers (and Snoop, perhaps charitably, left more in the bag). Snoop is a legit national treasure and should be on everyone’s Top 5 list. Give him his flowers now.
Jessica McKinney: Snoop Dogg got the win this time. His presence, humor, and performance skills lit up the room with each song. He also reminded us just how diverse and long his catalog goes, playing everything from funk to gangsta records to top radio hits. It’s worth noting that DMX wasn’t that far behind Snoop, though. It took him some time to ease into the performance aspect, but X held his own and gave Snoop a run for his money in some of the rounds.
Shawn Setaro: Snoop is, after all these years, an absolute world-class live performer. He was rapping at a consistently high level throughout, often without recorded vocals backing him up (something DMX, for all his energy, never tried during the evening). When you combine that with the fact that he won most of the early rounds by front-loading his set with Doggystyle-era material, the S-N-double O-P definitely came out on top.
Frazier Tharpe: Uncle Snoop was zooted, having fun, and happy to see his mans being healthy and celebrated. He came to show off the cookout footwork, not win a battle. There were several nukes he did’'t even bother using; he played “Next Episode” as an afterthought. There are legitimate iconic songs he didn’t even have to pull out, to say nothing of lesser knowns that could’ve handily won rounds, like “Vato,” “Loosen Control” or “I Wanna Rock.” And that’s not even talking features, which can go as recently as his stellar “OG Bobby Johnson” remix verse. Snoop is so ubiquitous these days, doing game shows, TV guest spots, lampin with Martha—everything but rap—that it can be easy for some to forget that he isn’t just one of the best to do it, but an actual top 10/Rushmore candidate. It’s IG jokes and memes now, but never forget how he came into the game and crushed the buildings.
Lucas Wisenthal: My wife’s from Westchester, so New York law dictates I say DMX. But while X was surprisingly on-point, Snoop’s classics are on another level, and Dre’s production has aged better than Swizz’s. So, without question, Snoop.