Battle of the Beat Makers 2011
29 August 2011 No CommentsBy Anya Wassenberg
What makes the best beats? The Battle of the Beat Makers in Toronto offered a packed Opera House crowd the chance to listen to the work of 32 competing producers and judge along with the celebrities on August 27.
The annual event has grown into a full weekend of parties, networking events and more with Saturday night’s competition as the centrepiece. The first round sees all 32 producers paired up to compete against each other.
They each have 45 seconds to impress the judges. The first round whittles it down to 16, then eight, then the quarter and semi-finals, and finally the competition round.
“It’s created a lot of buzz for the city,” noted Robert Reazhun Jones, one of the competing producers, citing the success of guest judge and Toronto phenom Boi-1Da. Boi-1Da’s a three time previous winner and former judge in 2008 and 2010. The competition helped kick started a career that’s led to platinum sales, a Grammy, and working with artists like Eminem and Drake.
The impressive trio of judges was rounded out by recording artist Stalley and Grammy winner and Duke University professor 9th Wonder. It was 9th Wonder’s first time as judge; he’s an articulate multi-talent who’s worked with people like Erykah Badu, Ludacris and Mary J. Blige. A screening of his documentary film The Wonder Year ended the Beatmakers weekend on Sunday the 28th. As a long time producer, Reazhun had heard of the competition before, but he cited the weekend’s networking events and the chance to meet 9th Wonder – one of his favourite producers – as key to pushing him into signing up for the first time.
Competition night began with sets from DJ P P-Plus and DJ Lissa Monet. The two kept the beats going all night, with the added presence, words and larger than life personality of host Trixx. He certainly wasn’t afraid to take a swipe at Canadian celebrities who only represent Canada when they’re in Canada (no names named!) or talk about his preference for old school 1990’s beats. Between rounds, live performances from local talent Stalley, Luu Breeze and Jack Flawless keep the big crowd moving. It was well paced and entertaining from start to finish.
Nick Flair of 88 Renegades, a semi-finalist in last year’s competition, is a young up-and-comer whose music draws inspiration from a wide variety of musical styles. “I try to stay away from one genre,” he says, a philosophy demonstrated in a segment that began by riffing off cartoon music. In 2010, he lost out to Neenah, a lady who came all the way from Amsterdam, and she continued to prove a crowd favourite with inventive and melodic beats that scored well in the first few rounds. Her 2010 win seemed to have drawn more female competitors to this year’s event, and though still small, the ladies’ contingent made their mark. Fourteen-year old Mississauga native Wondagurl wowed the crowd in her ponytail and backpack with powerful and interesting beats, and I heard a cool sample from Jesus Christ Superstar from ENJ.
So what does make a great beat? The sounds ranged from pure power rhythms to more thoughtful and complicated tracks with layered melodies, and while it wasn’t supposed to affect the judging, a producer who backed up the music and the crowd’s favour with an entertaining stage presence put it over the top. Quite a few times, the judges couldn’t come to a decision on the first match up and asked for a second track from each producer.
In the end, it boiled down to a battle between first time competitor Duke Dinero and Mistuh Magicc, and a competition Duke Dinero talks about losing in the rematch in a Tweet posted shortly after the event ended. “next year im bringing 20000000 beats… rematches are a killer.. i knew that was gonna happen, but the better man won.”
Soundwright, 88 renegades (Nick Flair), Pusha Boy, Sol’kidd, Sentury Status, Neenah, Pilot Lights, Kemikal, Alpine, Mistuh Magicc, CT, Scizzahandz, Mad Face Productions, DZL, Thrizzo, Nyra, Degreezy, Austin Dovercourt (of Aristocrats), The Radiant Child, Rush, C-Sharp, Cylla, ENJ, Reazhun, Cristobal (Formally of 808 Gang), The Banknotes, Gabriel Lis, Duke Dinero (of The Untouchables), Superville, Juxx, Pirate X, Wondagurl
Anya Wassenberg is a longtime freelance writer with a specialty in arts and culture. Check out her blog www.artandculturemaven.com.
Here is Mistuh Magicc showing his winning style in the second round against Superville: