Alicia Keys cherishes her exclusive access to Verzuz, which was co-created by her husband and megaproducer Swizz Beatz. But she loved one particular battle so much that she got one of the dueling legends to be on her upcoming album ALICIA.
In an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe today (Sept. 14), the Verzuz battle alum beamed with joy about Beatz and Timbaland’s award-winning quarantine creation and her “personal favorite” battle to come out of it between neo-soul titans Jill Scott and Erykah Badu. Keys previously went head-to-head with fellow piano maestro John Legend for the celebratory Juneteenth edition.
“I’m bugging like crazy. I’m driving home from wherever, and I’m listening to the thing through the car. I mean, I’m fan-girling out all the way. I’m singing every word,” Keys recalled from the first all-female battle back in May. “And after the thing was over, he’s like, ‘Babe, Jill is on the phone.’ And I get on the phone with her, and I’m like, ‘You’re just… This is crazy. You’re so…’ And she’s like, “Hi, how are you? This was so great.’ And we have a moment. And I’m like, ‘Why haven’t we worked together? Why haven’t we? This is crazy!’ And so she’s like, ‘I know, and I hope to come, and let’s connect.’ And I said, ‘Yes, let’s connect.’ Boom, left it alone.”
She eventually consulted her husband while tying the loose ends of her self-titled seventh studio album, which is finally slated to arrive this Friday, Sept. 18, about what was missing. Then the two started working on an idea of “putting love on display and being that confident,” which prompted the 39-year-old R&B singer to channel Miss Scott for the special song that’s now named after her.
“And we’re vibing, we’re vibing, I’m like, ‘Ooh, what if it was like this, like some Jill Scott sh-.’ And I start pretending to be Jill Scott…. And I put it down, and he’s like, ‘Ooh. Send it to her. Send it to her right now,’” she told Lowe. “And so, my engineer Ann Mincieli, who’s been with me forever and is such a boss, she’s like, ‘So wait, what are we calling the song?’ And I was like, ‘Call it Jill Scott. Because I don’t want to forget. Don’t forget, because I know I’m going to send it to Jill. Call it Jill Scott.’ Boom. Called it ‘Jill Scott,’ talked to Jill, we have an amazing thing.”
Keys continued: “She’s like, ‘Okay. You want me to do it?’ She did it. Went out of her way, sorted it out, sent it back, called me like, ‘You know, what you did was so cool. I was thinking, maybe I’ll just do a few backgrounds.’ I said, ‘No, no, no, no, no, no. No. What I did was pretended to be you. I need you to be you.’ And she was like, ‘Okay.’ Came back, killed it, as per normal. And Ann did these sick background vocals, it was so outrageous. Like if you could hear the difference, you could hear her mind, which is just ridiculous. And so then, we’re at the remastering, ‘Are we calling this ‘Jill Scott,’ featuring Jill Scott?’ I was like, ‘Definitely.’”
Watch a snippet of Key’s Apple Music interview below and the rest on Apple Music.