I have been waiting my entire life for a weekend like this. I'd been hoping against hope that one day my fair city would be able to support events of this magnitude.
My Friday started early, I had a pickup of my best friend and Zulu 206 representative, DJ Gumbeaux, at the airport. I needed some help on stage, and he seemed like a perfect fit. We were also having a Zulu outreach meeting on Sunday, so it was dual purpose. Well it seems that the two hours I had between first pick up and drop off was the only down time I would have all day. I wish I would've savored it.
Well, next were I-dee, Steel, Rugged. I ended up picking up Concept too because he was on the plane with I-dee. I had a full car load on the way back to the city, and everyone was pretty hungry. So we went to Crabby Jacks for some poboys. Then we went to check I-dee in to his hotel room, well... pre-checked in. From then on there were people who were posted up on my couch and on my turntables until 7:30 when I had to pack up for the Howlin' Wolf.
Lesson #1 : Never book people in separate hotel rooms. I spent far too much time in the car on the night of the battle picking people up when my time would've been better served in the venue getting everything ready.
Well after picking up Christie Z, Teeko and I-dee, I scrambled to get everything set up so that the battle could start. Originally we had around 20 djs set up for the battle. Only 10 showed up on the night so let the prelims begin...
Truth Universal was the perfect host for the evening. He kept the crowd involved throughout the night even when some of the delays lasted a little longer than the regulation 2 minutes.
Of the three representatives from Louisiana, Jermaine Quiz, Know Respect, and Beverly Skillz, only one looked as if to have ever put a routine together prior to that day. That simple fact made me wish I could've entered the battle even more, and that the rest of my crew would've entered also. I remember the days of Raj Smoove, Hektic and HC when coming to New Orleans to battle would make you want to step your game up. I guess since battles began to dwindle years ago, so did everyone's desire to battle. Well, of the three from Louisiana, Beverly Skillz advanced to the 6 minute round.
I got an interesting insight in the judging that night. I got to see exactly how each competitor is scored and I got to see each judges score sheet. Well, without going into detail the top six scorers were as follows:
3. Rugged One
4. Beverly Skillz
5. Axis Powers
6. The Don Santos
Shortkut did a little party rocking interlude, and we were in to the final.
The Don Santos went up first, his routine was pretty solid, but not loaded with any real high degree of difficulty. He did do a blindfolded beat-chase, which was cool albeit gimmicky.
Axis Powers has his showmanship turned all the way up. His strength lied in his cutting but his beat juggles weren't where they needed to be for a top three and we all knew it. He ended his routine by breaking a record on the turntable, which for the crowd was entertaining the display IS a little overdone.
Beverly Skillz was the fan favorite. As she stepped up, the crowed roared and she basically had them eating out of her hand the entire routine. She did really well except for some skipping on one of her juggles. When she began cutting to the Triggerman beat everyone went nuts in the crowd. She really knew how to play for a room of fans.
Rugged One from Boston, had the only flawless routine out of the three in my opinion. His routine was comprised of combo juggles (juggles using two different records) scratching, and just plain funk... It was a stark contrast from the next competitor...
Concept from Boca Raton, Florida was up next and his routine was uptempo and in your face. His routine reminded me a lot of what Netik and Rafik are doing in Europe with Le Jad records. His set was almost flawless and it seemed the crowd was pretty in to it. All Concept would've needed to take first was a little more showmanship and another juggle. Which brings me to...
Steel representing New Jersey was the highest scorer from round one, and he performed last in this round. Steel had his 1st place game on. Everything was right on, his juggles, his scratching, his transitions, and he didn't miss a beat when I mis-read the timer and shorted him one minute. He resumed his juggle like nothing had happened. His difficulty level was the highest of all the competitors. The fact that he made it look effortless only added to his set.
Well once the finals wrapped it was showcase time. I-dee went first. He unleashed a barrage of scratches first, and then went into juggles of maddening proportions. As the routine progressed he seemed to get better and better and more and more into the crowd. He might as well have entered. He could've given Steel, Concept and Rugged a run for their money. I-dee finished to uproarious applause.
Next up was Teeko. Admittedly, I was looking forward to Teeko's set most of all. He'd brought a synthesizer, a Vestax Controller One, and an MPC 1000. He began by tapping out a beat on the MPC, and building the melodies using the Controller One and the synth. He continued with a C1 cover of Billie Jean, and he ended with a unbelievably hot cover of Herbie Handcock's Rock It. Teeko was a huge hit with the crowd also and he wrapped up to an uproar from the crowd.
I expect to be seeing Teeko and I-dee a lot more in New Orleans.
Well it was time to announce the places. After deliberating with Christie Z, it had to have been the shortest decision of the night. The scorecards were identical and, Truth Universal strolled out to give the crowd the results.
3rd Place was Rugged One
2nd Place was Concept
1st Place was Steel
That was exactly what I had decided also. Had I been a judge, the results would've been the same.
Next up was the ICU to close out the night. I couldn't stay around for their set because I had to wrap up all the lose ends on stage, pack everything up, and make sure everyone was taken care of and everyone got to where they were going in time.
Well at this point I was pretty frantic, trying to get people to Handsome Willy's for the afterparty, even though the battle ran waaaaay late. Well, I got there and a few people followed, not as many as I'd liked. But nonetheless, it was a good party. I could finally wind down, have a beer and relax.
Well time passed pretty quickly and it was time for us to leave. We all decided to go eat at Deja Vu on Conti. By that time we were all pretty delirious, and by the time we walked out of Deja Vu, the sun was coming up. No rest for the weary, because I had to bring Steel to the airport at 10. The weekend goes on...