Culture | January 23rd, 2021

The 411 Breakdown: Keyshia Cole & Ashanti’s Verzuz Battle

By: Tiara Williams
The 411 Breakdown: Keyshia Cole & Ashanti’s Verzuz Battle

The first Verzuz battle of 2021 is finally here! After months of rumors and speculations, the much-anticipated and initial Ashanti and Keyshia Cole Verzuz battle were to be held on December 12, 2020. As we are in unprecedented times, hours before the battle, Verzuz publicized that the affair would be postponed due to Ashanti being diagnosed with COVID-19. The date was then set for January 9, 2021 but after recent events and chaos at the Capitol, for the safety of everyone the final battle date was arranged for Thursday, January 21, 2021. 

The live event was set to begin at 8 p.m. EST via, however, both artists weren’t punctual. After 30 minutes of listening to the DJ play throwbacks, fans began to become restless and took to Twitter to rant about the artist’s tardiness. 

It is fair to say that after waiting for the event, fans were beginning to become weary of the unprofessionalism. Co-founder of Verzuz, Swizz Beats, even joined the live and stated: “This is very disrespectful can’t lie man.” 

An hour and 18 minutes later, both artists were present and the battle began. 1.1 million viewers including celebrities, radio stations and television networks such as Hot97 and BET tuned in to watch the artists go head to head, hit for hit. Nonetheless, their anticipation was quickly met with disappointment due to negative energy and technical difficulties. 

Fans felt that Keyshia Cole entered the event with an attitude and was not afraid to call her out on it via Twitter.


Aside from what fans deemed to be “awkward,” both teams could not get their audio stabilized. The music or the artist was either too loud or too low. The viewer experience included lots of “turn me up” and “fix her sound” and the viewers were fed up.

Julious Smith, a third-year pre-physical therapy student, stated: “After a long wait for this highly anticipated battle, I can say it was not what I expected. In past battles the sound quality…was a lot better. I also felt saddened that Keyshia Cole came on the show with what appeared to be an attitude. It just gave what could have been a wonderful night a bad foundation.” 

Minutes into the live, the mood began to lighten and fans began to enjoy their favorite artists and their favorite hits. Keyshia performed some of her most popular songs, “The Way That I Love You,” “Let It Go,” “I Remember,” “Playa Cardz Right,” “Love,” and “Sent From Heaven.” 

Ashanti performed “Happy,” “Don’t Leave Me Alone,” “Rock Wit U,” “Southside,” “Ain’t It Funny,” and other hits. Fans enjoyed reminiscing on their favorite throwbacks and making fun of the artists. Many felt that the vocals were not to their standards.

Before the event, Journey conducted a poll to see which artists fans thought would win the battle. 86% of you predicted that Keyshia Cole would win and 14% of you predicted that Ashanti would. Concluding the end of the event, we conducted another poll to see where the votes stood.

Although many changed their initial vote from Keyshia to Ashanti, Cole stole the vote by 38%. Despite its rough start and poor audio quality the Verzuz battle and social media reactions were entertaining, to say the least. Both women showed tremendous respect for one another and established the theme of “Ladies Night” to support women’s empowerment. It may not have been what everyone expected, but the show did go on.

 Let us know your opinion on the battle and who you thought won at our Instagram (@journeymag) and Twiiter (@journey_mag).