Nearly two million people watched live on Thursday night as two Southern rap heavyweights, Gucci Mane and Jeezy, leaned into, and then seemingly set aside, 15 years of bad blood during the latest edition of the pandemic streaming hit battle Verzuz.
From matching thrones set up on opposite legs of the H-shaped stage at the storied Atlanta strip club Magic City, the rappers — early collaborators turned sworn enemies — traded radio smashes and underground street classics for nearly two hours, often with little regard for pleasantries.
The webcast, presented jointly on Instagram Live and Apple Music, began shortly after the State of Georgia announced the completion of its presidential recount, reaffirming that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. had defeated President Trump in the state. But before the show could start, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, appeared virtually, thanking the musicians for the “street cred” the cameo lent her and urging people to vote in the state’s upcoming Senate runoff election.
“Can you wipe my record clean?” asked Gucci Mane, 40, who spent much of his career in and out prison before finding sobriety and even greater success as a motivational figure, author and rap elder statesman. (Abrams replied that such a thing would be up to the governor.)
Yet even before Abrams could complete her public service announcement, Gucci Mane jumped into “Round 1,” a diss song from 2005 aimed at Jeezy, 43 and formerly known as Young Jeezy, setting the wobbly tone for the night.
Both godfathers of Atlanta trap music, the early-2000s drug-dealer anthems that would go on to influence