Check out this Kelly Clarkson Remix I did with my good friend DJ Reidiculous. Stay tuned for more collabos with Reidiculous.
Last night, Thursday April 1, 2010 at Rich’s nightclub was the Redbull Thre3style DJ Battle which featured 8 local DJs from Houston. I had the pleasure being one of the Five Judges last night along with DJ Enferno (Madonna’s touring DJ), DJ Oz de Funk (Houston DJ), Paul Couture (Artist/Producer) and Mickaël Zibi (Artist/Producer).
The contestants comprised of eight party rockin’ DJs from the Houston Area: Eddie Spettro(House Producer/DJ), Flash Gordon Parks, GT(97.9 The Box), Kyle Berg (Ei8ht nightclub), DJ Ebonix (97.9 The Box/BoothPimps), Johnny J (BoothPimps), DJ Baby Jae (97.9 The Box/Krackernuttz).
Judging for this event is different from typical DJ battles. Each DJ had 15 minutes to do a set. They were required to play at least 3 Genres of music hence the name Thre3style. Also, they weren’t allowed to play songs that other DJ’s played before them or else they would lose points. The scoring went like this:
All Five Judges were on the second level looking down at the stage. It wasn’t the best spot for us to view the DJ battle but they had two flat screens with camera angles for us to view. We had a nice look of each DJ’s setup. There were three Dj setups with Two turntables and a Rane TTM57 Mixer. The Middle setup was DJ Enferno’s rig which he would be performing his Live Remix Project after the Battle.
Throughout the night I was randomly Tweeting some of my thoughts. DJ Enferno was a little distracted by the stage because the photographers were getting too close to his Live Remix Project rig. At one point, one of the photographers laid down one of their tri-pods near his keyboard and it looked like it was going to hit it. I sent a warning on Twitter to the contestants to not hit his rig or you’d lose points. LOL.
Before the DJ Battle started, I was asked to DJ for an hour since they pushed back the time to 11pm. Originally, it was supposed to start at 10pm. I wanted to make sure I didn’t play stuff that the other DJ’s before me so I decided to play a similar set that I did in Miami for the Winter Music Conference which was a mixture of Electro and Dirty Dutch House.
Here’s what I played:
Paul Ahi – South Beach (Fukkk Offf Remix)
D’ Secret Svc – Tight Jeans (Fukkk Offf Remix)
Benny Benassi presents The Bizz – satisfaction (funk d remix)
Bad Boy Bill – Fast Life feat. Alex Peace (Mixin Marc & Lex Da Funk Remix)
Vandalism – Throw Your Hands Up (Angger Dimas Remix)
Afrojack – Zeggie (Original Mix)
A-Trak x Drake x Birdman – Loonies To Blow
Pola-Riot – Superpimpin
Notorious B.I.G. – Hypnotize – Cold Blank Remix
Juiceboxxx – 100 MPH (AC Slater Remix)
Steve Aoki – Im In TheHouse_LMFAORemix
Jimmy 2 Times – HOUSE – Errrbody Drunk
Hatiras – - Spaced Invader (Hatiras 2010 Vocal Remix)
Bass Kleph – Organ Cat (Original Mix)
Robbie Rivera – Let Me Sip My Drink (feat. Fast Eddie) (Chuckie Remix)
Starkillers – Cantina
After my set, we were ready to get this DJ Battle underway.
First up was Eddie Spettro. Before this contest I had never heard of him. I did some googling and talked to some folks and learned he is mainly an EDM(Electronic Dance Music) Producer particularly with progressive house. This intrigued me to see how he was going to incorporate Three Genres into his set. Right out the box he came out with a lot of energy. At one point he left his booth and started Dancing in front of the stage. Watch out Eddie – Don’t hit Enferno’s rig! I guess he had a lot of Red Bull. He had a nice blend of Rage Against the Machine “Killing in the name” which got the Rich’s crowd hyped. I give him props for being the first DJ of the evening to play an undeground genre of music Dubstep to a more mainstream crowd. Towards the end, he went into an Electro set that kind of lost the crowd’s interest. However, he was still smiling, dancing, and showing a lot of energy after his set. I thought he was a nice intro for the night and set the stage for everyone else.
Next up was Flash Gordan Park. He came out being really Soulful and funky. His set consisted of some classic breaks, R&B, Soul, and rap. Highlights of his set was him going into Apache rocking some beats in between. I think I even heard Wham “Everything she wants” in his set. I appreciated what he was doing but the crowd wasn’t really into it. Then again, this isn’t a popularity contest and crowd response only accounts for 10pts in this competition(keep a note of that)
GT from 97.9 The Box – He started off his set with Frank Sinatra “New York New York” then worked into Jay Z’s “Empire State” which got the girls singing and dancing. That’s another thing about this battle from others. People were actually DANCING to the DJs. Rich’s is normally packed on thursdays to begin with (Johnny J and Myself are the Resident DJs there) but it was nice to see the crowd actually dancing to a DJ Battle. GT played a wide variety of tracks and a lot of Jay Z from what I remember. He had a nice solid set getting the crowd to sing a long to some records and even broke it down H-town style.
Kyle Berg – The week prior to the battle I saw Kyle at Winter Music Conference down in Miami. I asked him if he was ready for the DJ battle. Well he sure was. He came prepared. Starting off with the Pink Panther! BALLSY!
He played a WIDE range of music going from Queen to Afrojack. Rock to Electro. Hip-hop to Pop. In my opinion he had the Smoothest transitions of the entire evening. His set was obviously somewhat planned but that was ok. He executed very well. He had the crowd dancing and rocking. He looked like he was having a lot of fun and for the judges we had fun as well. He didn’t even wait for his time limit to run out and ended with a bang and had the crowd roar for him. This was my first time ever hearing him DJ and I was impressed. VERY Impressed.
DJ Bizz – Bizz played a wide variety of music from Rock, House, Hip-Hop, and was the second DJ to play Dubstep. I think it’s admirable and a gutsy move to take an underground Genre like Dubstep and incorporate it with his set. I give him props for that. He started off his set with the Theme song to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs “Hi Ho” over the Tipsy beats. At one point, he played an acapella from Paul Couture (one of the judges) “Johnny Vegas” track. I guess he was looking for some extra points. Bizz is a well-respected DJ in town and works at a lot of the Hot spots. From the start of his set however, he was having some technical issues. DJ Enferno even pointed out that something is wrong with the turntables. At one point he was switching out needles, plugs, and DJed off Internal mode. As judges, we did factor that into consideration and gave him some leniency. However, we weren’t that lenient for playing Frank Sinatra into Empire State again which, we had just heard GT do. In the end, Bizz finished his set the best way he could. I felt for him but that’s just how it goes in these battles. In retrospect, if he would’ve stopped and told the sound tech to check things, I don’t think the judges would’ve mind. I’d rather wait a couple of minutes to make sure the grounds were screwed properly, rca plugged in correctly, etc. then have to see a DJ struggle with his equipment.
Next up are Three Fan Favorite DJs and have a little history behind them. DJ Ebonix, Johnny J, Baby Jae. All three are prominent DJ’s in Houston as well being all Filipino-American. At one point, all three used to work together at 97.9 The Box and have been DJing for a while. Ebonix and Johnny J are both in the same DJ Crew – BoothPimps. Baby Jae is part of the nightshow on 97.9 The Box and in the group The Krackernuttz which, Ironically enough, Johnny was a founding member of. All three have mutual respect for each other but at the same time have that friendly rivalry. This was the match that many wanted to see. It was almost a battle within the battle. Ebonix and Johnny J are also Rich’s Resident DJ’s so they clearly had the crowd with them. I even saw some BoothPimp Signs in the crowd.
DJ Ebonix – He started off his set with Pharoah Monche and got to the front of the stage doing his Lebron James impersonation by grabbing some baby powder and throwing it in the air. It got the crowd excited and caught the judges attention. What a statement. He did some nice scratches and acapella tricks with his name, boothpimps, etc. At one point he was scratching a “You don’t want to step to this” sample and from our vantage point looked like he was pointing at the other DJs on stage. That’s all part of being in a DJ battle. You come to fight! It’s what we all expected to see. Being that we used to work together (Former BoothPimp founder), I kinda knew what he was going to play but he did some nice blends. The crowd was loving his set from start to finish without question. He had a nice balance of new and old tracks. Overall, he performed exactly the way I had expected and did a good job. The only thing that had the judges wondering was why he went back to the Pharoah Monche instrumental that he used in the beginning.
Johnny J – From the get go, Johnny was rocking the crowd with his signature live mashups. However, he too was on the side with the faulty DJ equipment and we all saw him having the same problems Bizz had. Despite that, he did a great job programming the room. If this was a battle of programming, Johnny would’ve won. Then again, he better since we DJ together at Rich’s on Thursdays. He even did a little beat juggling in the middle of his set which, was admirable considering the technical difficulties. As did Bizz before him, Johnny finished out his set the best he could albeit handled it a lot better than him. Again, the judges took that into consideration.
Baby Jae – After almost two hours of DJ Battling, it came down to Baby Jae. He started off his set in true DMC battle style calling out his competition with his samples and busted out with Herbie Hancock – Rockit doing some crazy scratches. He spent about the first 4 minutes on his turntablism. Everyone knew going into the battle that Baby Jae was a great technical turntablist so that was expected. The question was for this battle would he program the room? He then continued to do exactly that playing some Party beats and acapellas to get the crowd hyped. Jae then dropped into some Houston rap that got the crowd singing along. I couldn’t tell you the name of the track but I just saw the crowd singing along to it. Then he continued to go on a barrage of more dj battling tricks, beat juggled, scratches, etc. If Ebonix was Lebron, Baby Jae was Kobe Bryant that night. Much like Kobe, he didn’t get the fouls called, made some ridiculous shots, and took out his competition on the turntables. From a technical standpoint, he was nearly perfect in my opinion. My only beef was that he needed to play more current music. I would’ve liked to see him incorporate some house/electro into his set but that’s just me.
Soon after, DJ Enferno hit the stage and started his Live Remix Project set. He had two turntables setup along with some Keyboards and midi controllers. He had an amazing set. You appreciate it a lot more when you actually see what he’s doing rather then just listening. With 15 minutes left into his set, they stopped his set to annouce the winners. In my opinion, they should’ve waited. Here were the Results.
Third Place with $500 went to DJ Ebonix. Many people in the building were stunned. I was one of them. He clearly was the crowd favorite but as I had said earlier, crowd response only accounted for 10 points. I didn’t expect him to be third. I thought he’d be in the Top 2 for sure.
Second Place with $750 went to Kyle Berg. He deserved it and while none of the judges saw the final tabulations, I had heard he was close to winning the whole thing. I have a new found respect for Kyle as well many after last night.
First Place with a check for $1000 and a trip to Denver to compete in the USA Finals went to Baby Jae as expected by many. Of course he didn’t quite have the crowd vote but this isn’t a popularity contest. In the end, his creativity and mixing skills is what gave him the title in my opinion. That accounted for 50 points right there. Well deserved and I’m sure he will represent Houston in the Redbull Finals very well.
As a judge, I thought I was very fair and brutally honest with the point system. In the end, I am only one judge of 5 people. If there are people complaining on the outcome, they can’t just blame it on one person. For whatever reason, the points were added and that was the final outcome. No matter what, there would’ve been some kind of controversy. Had Ebonix won, then people would say it was fixed because he’s a Rich’s nightclub resident. Had Kyle won, then some people would’ve said his set was planned out. There’s always something. It’s all subjective and relative to people’s taste. Bottom line is it came down to the numbers. There is no way of explaining it.
I would HOPE that contestants and the people that were there realize that at the end of the day, this was about showcasing their talents. Was it perfect? No. I would’ve liked to have seen invitations to some Hispanic DJs like DJ Rockwell, DJ Playboy, or even DJ Mpulse. I’d also like to see it go from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for each DJ. It was great night for Houston DJ’s and I can’t wait to see it next year.
Photos courtesy of Houstonmusicscene.com