Last week in On The Record, I posed a question that’s been burning in my mind: Who would win in a Beyoncé Knowles vs. Jill Scott Diva Death Match? The two heavy-hitting R&B queens both issued their fourth LP a week apart: Scott’s The Light Of the Sun and Knowles’ 4. Now that sounds like a throw-down to me. While these two ladies seem like they’d be all sweet and nice (both love God), we all know there’s a raging bitch fight underneath ready to erupt. So let’s break it down into some quantifiable categories and judge them on a scale of 1 to 5 to see who emerges the most Badass Bitch of 2011.
Jill takes this one by a mile. The North Philly native has seen a ghetto girl fight in her day and almost definitely knows her way around a concealed weapon. As evidenced by 2000’s Words And Sounds: Who Is Jill Scott? , Jill knows how to throw down. In “Gettin’ in the Way,” she talks a ton of smack to some trifling ho tryna steal her man: “I’ma about to take my rings off/ Give me some vaseline.” Cue the removal of giant hoop earrings for unobstructed combat. “You betta back down,” she threatens. Beyoncé might just be terrified. Something tells me B’s never taken rings and/or earrings off, applied vaseline, or threatened another woman who might be calling her man. She grew up in Houston taking dance lessons and building her Destiny’s Child empire since the age of 8. Jill: 5, B: 2.
This is a tough one because it’s pretty esoteric. Beyoncé’s got fierceness in spades. What B has going for her is youth. The bitch can dance, pop, lock and gyrate like nobody’s business. It’s unclear how these skills would benefit her in this Steel Cage Match. At minimum, any number of her dance moves could be seen as expert blocks or swerves to avoid an opponent’s blow. Jill’s almost 40, and although she strikes a hoodlike pose next to Eve in the video for her new single “Shame,” we know B could roll around on the ground and shank her with a four-inch heel. Jill: 1, B: 4.
Unfortunately for Jill, in a Diva Death Match, whether you can really nail a note or climb a scale with your pipes is only going to get you so far. But this is one of the toughest and tightest of contests. As far as records go, Jill would probably take this one: She pulls off soulful, bluesy R&B as well as she can on a hip-hop staple like the Roots’ “You Got Me.” Jill can also nail a number in front of a 10-piece band. B’s a bit more of a yeller and a growler, like on 4 ’s “I Care.” Jill’s pipes are more developed and smoother, no question, but 4 shows promise for a maturing young Beyoncé. Maybe this is actually Jill’s secret weapon, like Banshee in X-Men: Origins. Jill: 4, B: 3.
SINGLES AND SALES
As this is written, Beyoncé sits at the top of the Billboard 200 chart, where Jill is throwing shade from the No. 5 spot. Scott inhabited the Top Spot briefly before Knowles dethroned her. Thas gotta hurt. With Scott’s first two singles “So In Love” and “Shame,” we didn’t exactly get Pop radio/Club bangers. These aren’t the kind of songs that’ll be blaring from dancefloors and hoopties all summer. They’re fun, they’re solid, but she’s up against “Run The World (Girls),” and now the anthemic “Best Thing I Never Had.” Anyone who’s listened to 4 a hundred times knows that “End of Time” has got to be the next single and it’s going to blow people’s minds. Can’t really say the same for Jill; “Blessed” is a beautiful song, but do people want to get twisted at the club to a sweet ditty about blessings and love being a mother? No, they want a killer beat and perhaps a correspondingly learnable dance move.Jill: 1, B: 5.
This is where things start to get ugly. B’s already got a couple categories on lock, and here’s where she puts her opponent on the damn floor and goes for the head kick. She’s married to the biggest rapper in the world. Oh, he filmed a rehearsal version of 4 ’s ballad “1+1” on his iPhone and showed, to the world, that his girl can blow. That was for American Idol, which she tore up . She headlined Glastonbury last week alongside U2 and Coldplay. You can just see heads turning, Jill’s on the ground and losing her strength. Looks like youth beats mature hood wisdom in this battle, folks. Jill: 0, B: 5.
Beyoncé’s 19 TKOs Jill’s 11.
PW's Music Issue 2014