One of the surprise hits of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic was the rap battle web series "Verzuz," which actually began a couple years before by hip hop giants Timbaland (real name Timothy Mosley) and Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Daoud Dean). What once began as an impromptu rap battle acquired its name, significant brand value, and a trademark, and was eventually purchased by online video platform Triller, which announced they would be acquiring the Verzuz brand in March of last year.
Unfortunately, this week Billboard reports that both Timbaland and Swizz Beatz are taking Triller to court over more than $28 million they say they're owed from the sale.
The terms of the sale were not disclosed at the time, and still aren't known now, but whatever they were, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz say they've been left without some $28 million they were supposed to receive. As the legal complaint puts it:
"Defendants have failed and refused to respond to plaintiffs' written notice and demand for payment…To date, defendants have failed and refused to make any payment to Mosley and Dean of the past due sums due and owing, and defendants continue in default of their payment obligations."
Triller's own lawyers released a public statement of their own after the filing was announced, calling the suit a "truly unfortunate…misunderstanding driven by lawyers."
The company's statement went on:
"We do not wish to air our dirty laundry in the press, but we have paid Swizz and Tim millions in cash and in stock…No one has benefited as much from Triller to-date. Triller has helped fuel Verzuz to new heights – making it the global cultural phenomenon it is today. We hope to resolve this amicably and quickly, and truly hope it's just a misunderstanding. If we are forced to defend it, we are more than optimistic the truth and facts are on our side."
Timbaland and Swizz Beatz say that the first payments from the sale that they were owed in January and April of 2021 came through without incident, but that the second, which was supposed to be delivered in January of this year, never arrived. After that, they say they reached a new payment agreement with the company, and that the settlement involved payments of approximately $18 million plus $1 million per month for ten months, with the sum total owed coming to $28,095,000.00