/  06.01.2020

In light of recent civil unrest following the police killing of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hand of Minneapolis police, the creators of Verzuz, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, felt the culture could use some inspiration provided through their growing music platform. 

This Verzuz between 16-time Grammy-award winner Kirk Franklin and gospel super producer Fred Hammond was a celebration. Sunday’s (May 31) edition brought two GOATs of gospel to meet up in once place, an at-home studio, to ensure a seamless worship experience. Bishop T.D. Jakes even opened the celebration with a special prayer for peace, comfort and justice at this time.

Franklin proved to be the night’s fan favorite. If for no other reason, he brought his keyboard and continued to play the songs through during the 90-seconds-only rule enforced by Instagram only moments before the stream began. Song for song, he dominated the evening by playing familiar crossover hits from his 20-year catalogue. Bops like “Stomp,” “Revolution” and “Melodies from Heaven” had us milly rocking from the living room to the pulpit.

Check out REVOLT’s scoreboard of Franklin and Hammond’s Verzuz below!

ROUND ONE: “I’m Persuaded” (Fred Hammond) vs. “He’s Able” 

Kicking off the stream, the artists kept it in the 90s. Hammond went digging back to his Detroit roots with his debut solo single “I’m Persuaded” from 1991. Franklin reminded us of “The Family” with “He’s Able.” Taking an early lead. 

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 1-0

ROUND TWO: “Spirit of the Lord” (Fred Hammond) vs. Brighter Day

This round “Fredrick,” as Franklin kept calling him, picked up the energy with uptempo “Spirit of the Lord,” but it was still no match for easy breezy “Brighter Day” allowing Franklin to keep his head start.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 2-0 

ROUND THREE: “Awesome God” (Fred Hammond) vs. “He Reigns / Awesome God” (Kirk Franklin)

While the songs share the same title, the praise hit differently. Hammond’s “Awesome God” was a little more funky whereas Franklin took us to the islands with a calypso feel. Both songs are jams during praise and worship, but Franklin takes the W this round again.  

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 3-0

ROUND FOUR: “Strange Land” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Joy” (Kirk Franklin)

In this round, Hammond reached back into his Commissioned bag putting pin sharp harmonies on display, but it was no match for Franklin’s 1996 “The Preacher’s Wife” placement, which he wrote for Whitney Houston.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 4-0

ROUND FIVE: “Prelude” (Fred Hammond) vs. “More Than I Can Bare” (Kirk Franklin)

Hammond took an opportunity to illustrate to viewers how history repeats itself when he played a 2009 “Prelude” featuring his own son speaking out about social injustice in our society. The lyrics would make you believe it was recorded today. While timely and evocative, it was still no match for “More Than I Can Bare” from 1997’s God Property album.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 5-0

ROUND SIX: “King of Glory” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Looking For You” (Kirk Franklin)

Special guest and former member of Commissioned, Pastor Marvin Sapp joined in to support Hammond. He snagged the W this round after the two were singing along to 90s bop “King of Glory.” Pastor Sapp went on to bless the quarter-million viewers who tuned in with a live rendition of “Never Would’ve Made It” accompanied by Franklin on the keyboard by the fans’ demand. 

Being a good sport and a low-key comedian, Franklin paid homage to the R&B-influenced gospel group who paved the way for him, but he still brought the heat with “Looking For You.”

Winner: Fred Hammond

Kirk Franklin leads 5-1

ROUND SEVEN: “Glory to Glory” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Hosanna Forever” (Kirk Franklin) 

Round number seven was sure to have you up and on your feet with Hammond’s choir favorite “Glory to Glory.” Franklin matched his energy with “Hosanna Forever.” However, Hammond secured the W this round.

Winner: Fred Hammond

Kirk Franklin leads 5-2 

ROUND EIGHT: “Please Don’t Pass Me By” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Something About the Name Jesus” (Kirk Franklin)

Slowing it back down, Hammond’s “Please Don’t Pass Me By” showcased his sweet and sultry vocals, but viewers like Snoop Dogg and Sevyn Streeter commenting on the Rance Allen led “Something About the Name Jesus” secured the win for Franklin. 

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 6-2

ROUND NINE: “Jesus Be A Fence” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Nobody But You” (Kirk Franklin)

Picking the tempo up again, Hammond pulled out a trusted oldie, but goodie with “Jesus Be A Fence.” After some hand clapping and toe tapping, Franklin dropped 2019’s “Nobody But You” for a contemporary counter. Because pop culture quotes this song daily, with or without knowledge, Hammond’s influence takes the lead this round.

Winner: Fred Hammond

Kirk Franklin leads 6-3

ROUND TEN: “Love Is The Way” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Now Behold the Lamb” (Kirk Franklin) 

Stank faces and head nods filled the screen when Hammond played the Commissioned track “Love Is The Way” thanks to the song’s 90s swing and hip hop influence, whereas, this round, Franklin switched up the vibe with “Now Behold the Lamb.”  

By this point in the stream, the artists were allowed to play more of their songs and Kirk Franklin had Tammi Roman and Lena Waithe filled with the holy ghost according to their comments.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 7-3

ROUND ELEVEN: “Revolution” (Kirk Franklin) vs. “Let The Praise Begin” (Fred Hammond)

Switching things up, Franklin went back-to-back. He picked the energy of the party up with The Nu Nation Project smash single “Revolution.” As the song played, celebrity commenters like Alicia Keys, Chance The Rapper, Logan Laurice, Gabrielle Union and Kerry Washington were sending up names of black civilians who were killed by the hands of the police. Names like Korryn Gaines, Philando Castille and Breonna Taylor were among those mentioned.

Viewers continued to declare victory in the face of the enemy with Hammond’s high energy “Let the Praise Begin,” but it was still no match for Franklin’s 1998 Billboard Hot 100 hit.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 8-3 

ROUND TWELVE: “Silver and Gold” (Kirk Franklin) vs. “All Things Are Working” (Fred Hammond) 

Kirk then reminded us that nothing is worth more than your faith with “Silver and Gold,” taking the lead over Fred’s “All Things Are Working.”

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 9-3

ROUND THIRTEEN: “Imagine Me” (Kirk Franklin) vs. “Ordinary Just Won’t Do” (Fred Hammond) 

It seems the Commissioned tracks really couldn’t stand up against Franklin’s high energy full choir sound, which allowed “Imagine Me” to overtake “Ordinary Just Won’t Do,” giving Kirk a further edge.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 10-3

ROUND FOURTEEN: “Ultra Light Beam” (Kirk Franklin) vs. “Hands On” Fred Hammond

In this round, the two multi-instrumentalists and producers got to show off their crossover appeal by playing features with rapper Kanye West. Franklin played Yeezy’s “Life of Pablo” album track “Ultra Light Beam.” And just as Kelly Price’s ad libs took us to the throne, Hammond came back with “Hands On” from Ye’s 2019 Jesus Is King album.  

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 11-3

ROUND FIFTEEN: “Why We Sing” (Kirk Franklin) vs. “Running Back to You” (Fred Hammond) 

“Why I Sing” is another one of those gospel songs that you might hear on the mainstream radio stations in the 90s, as was “Running Back to You” by Commissioned. But, that sense of familiarity pushed Franklin ahead this round to another W.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leds 12-3

ROUND SIXTEEN: “My Life is In Your Hands” (Kirk Franklin) vs. “They That Wait” (Fred Hammond)

For the second time during the broadcast, Franklin went slow with “My Life is In Your Hands,” while Fred picked up the pace with “They That Wait.” This time it proved beneficial for Franklin.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk Franklin leads 13-3

ROUND SEVENTEEN: “Smile” (Kirk Franklin) vs. “Speak to My Heart” (Fred Hammond)

To keep up the energy, Franklin then played “Smile” and encouraged viewers to drop smiling emojis in the comments before accompanying Hammond on the keyboard for a stripped down cover of Donnie McClurkin’s “Speak to My Heart.”

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk leds 14-3

ROUND EIGHTEEN: Take Me To The King vs. “You Are the Living Word” (Fred Hammond)

Hammond went on to play 1986 Commissioned classics “Running Back to You,” “You Are The Living Word,” and a keyboard accompanied “Just to Be Close to You.” Franklin secured a collective “Amen” when former The Family lead singer and actress Tamela Mann came into the studio to sing “Take Me To the King,” which Franklin wrote and produced. 

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk leads 15-3

ROUND NINETEEN: “This is the Day” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Melodies from Heaven” (Kirk Franklin)

Taking the first play of the round again, Hammond pivoted to the anthem “This is the Day” for another cry of victory before Franklin showed us his praise dance to “Melodies From Heaven.” He didn’t dance alone, as his wife Tammy, joined him for a Black Love moment. They two-stepped their hearts out and Franklin secured another win.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk leads 16-3 

ROUND TWENTY: “No Weapon” (Fred Hammond) vs. “Stomp” (Kirk Franklin)

The last and final round consisted of Hammond’s 1996’s “No Weapon” and Franklin’s “Stomp.” Similar messages, but completely different delivery, both songs reminded us that we’re divinely protected. Cheryl “Salt” James from dynamic rap duo Salt-N-Pepa clinched another win for Franklin.

Winner: Kirk Franklin

Kirk leads 17-3

ROUND TWENTY ONE: “We’re Blessed” (Fred Hammond) Vs. “Strong God” (Kirk Franklin) 

To close the evening, both artists left us with reminders that we are victorious and that we have promises from God for better days ahead. Hammond closed the evening with a Holy Ghost Party backed by “We’re Blessed” and Franklin with a more mellow worship track “Strong God.” As a bonus, when we were all preparing to log out, we got one last treat from Franklin’s catalogue with “My Desire.” Hammond still took this, though.

Winner: Fred Hammond

Kirk won 17-4

Overall, the evening was a beautiful celebration of life, love and faith for the times ahead. While we’re unsure what tomorrow holds, we’re prepared to face another day thanks to Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond and Verzuz

WINNER: Kirk Franklin

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