The clash of the two first peaked the internet’s nostalgic interests when Swizz Beatz and Timbaland announced the battle last Tuesday (May 12). The competition was stiff as fans struggled to decide who would come out on top between the St. Lunatics midwest slick twang spitter and the Disturbing Tha Peace bass-crusher. Needless to say, Luda and Derrty Mo lived up to the excitement of fan expectations early on with Luda’s classic ‘fro (complete with his black hair pick, but sans dramatic side burns) and Nelly’s fresh white tank (though fans would have preferred his signature left cheek band-aid to complement the look).
As Verzuz viewers witnessed in previous battles, technical difficulties threatened the sustainability of the live face-off, which unfortunately overwhelmed Nelly’s WiFi. Black Twitter got its jokes off in usual internet fashion and even anticipated a possible reschedule. Fortunately, he was able to push past St. Louis’ stormy, internet-glitching weather conditions and through the three-hour match.
Thus, the nearly half a million viewership lapped up every bit of the battle Nelly and Luda had to offer from their deep-fried, countrified classics of their 2000 debuts all the way through 2013. Here are some of the most memorable moments from Saturday’s iconic showdown of the south:
1. Black Twitter’s ‘Nelly Riley’ uproar
Harking back to Teddy Riley’s Verzuz battle complications, now notoriously recognized as the official trademark for livestream hiccups everywhere, fans held no bars on Nelly. He eventually resolved his WiFi connectivity issues, but not before Black Twitter added “Nelly Riley” to his list of Hollywood nicknames.
2. Luda previewing an unreleased track with Lil Wayne
At one point, while waiting for Nelly’s WIFI to act right, Luda decided to debut a brand new song that he has with Lil Wayne, which Timbaland just so happened to produce. “The world crazy, n**gas pouring drinks like Cliff Huxtable/ I love R. Kelly, but around my daughters, I am not comfortable,” Luda said during the beginning of the unreleased track. “Racist people still drinking whatever’s in Rosanne’s bar.”
3. Luda and Nelly’s 2000 debut song match-up
Luda and Nelly’s breakout year materialized two of the culture’s most time-honored 2000 hits: “What’s Your Fantasy” and “Country Grammar.” While Nelly’s title track from his debut album of the same name helped him nab a diamond-certified project, Luda’s single flipped the culture on its head and was named as one of VH1’s Greatest Songs of Hip-Hop.
4. Ludacris’ wardrobe change
From a jersey to an “Atlanta Influences Everything” shirt to a Magic City hoodie, Luda put on for the culture by way of Atlanta—with the swiftest wardrobes.
5. Nelly and Ludacris’ exchange of hip hop flowers
Ludacris saluted Nelly for his platinum and diamond accomplishments, while Nelly returned the praise by crowning Luda as one of the top-tier culture leaders. Jamming out to every hit, namely “Money Maker,” Nelly energized the Live while Luda additionally thanked Timbaland for being the first industry name to believe in him, as well as claimed that Timbo is his favorite producer. He also tossed up flowers for Missy Elliott.
6. Nelly’s magical band-aid powers, as told by Teyana Taylor
Among the several A-list names who attended Nelly and Luda’s Verzuz battle, and their real-time commentary, Taylor’s might take the crown as the most hilarious comedic relief amid Nelly’s technical difficulties. “The WiFi will work soon as [Nelly] put his Band-Aid on,” she commented.
7. Ludacris’ memorialization of Shawty Lo with “Dey Know”
Atlanta’s dearly-departed Shawty Lo helped break the southern mold with his commercial debut “Dey Know.” Luda’s amplified the impact with the “Dirty South (Remix),” which also racked up guest spots from Jeezy, Lil Wayne and Plies.
8. Nelly and Luda’s bow to R&B’s leading ladies with Ciara, Kelly Rowland and Janet Jackson
As the two winded down the last of their rounds, Luda burst out with Ciara’s “Oh” hit of 2005, which he offered a co-writer’s hand on. Nelly hit back later with his old school love-laced “Dilemma” duet with Kelly Rowland, which is forever etched in early 2000s love playlists everywhere, and his 2006 “Call On Me” collaboration with Janet Jackson.
Relive the Verzuz battle on Tidal below.