“RAIN, SLEET, HAIL, SNOW LET’S GO,” the Verzuz Instagram account shared on Jan. 12 after the matchup had been delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first delay happened after Ashanti revealed just hours before the planned Dec. 12 battle that she had tested positive for COVID-19. The second postponement came on Jan. 8, as cases continued to skyrocket.
Cole nudged Verzuz co-creators Timbaland and Swizz Beatz back in May about the match-up, sharing a hit-for-hit comparison list that a fan created. This marks the fourth all-female Verzuz battle, following Erykah Badu vz. Jill Scott, Brandy vz. Monica, and Gladys Knight vz. Patti LaBelle.
Ashanti and Cole have been neck-and-neck on Billboard‘s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for the last two decades, with Ashanti scoring two No. 1 songs (“Always on Time” with Ja Rule and “Foolish” in 2002) and 13 total top 10 hits and Cole notching three No. 1 songs on the chart (“Let It Go,” featuring Missy Elliott and Lil’ Kim, in 2007 and “I Remember” and “Heaven Sent” both in 2008) and 12 total top 10 hits.
Get comfy in your velour tracksuits for the 2000s showdown, which will go down Thursday, Jan. 21, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on VerzuzTV’s Instagram Live and Apple Music.
The battle marks the first one of the new year.