Red Bull Thre3 Style World DJ Championships

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The Red Bull Thre3 Style 2013 World DJ Championships touched down in Toronto on November 4th, after months of anticipatory buzz.

21 DJ’s from around the world made the Thompson Hotel their nest for a week, participating in nightly elimination challenges where they put their lifeblood into action for the ultimate title — 2013 World DJ Champion.

Veteran DJ’s were on hand to headline the nightly competitions–the 21 contestants only had 15 minute sets each. Names like DJ A-Trak, Kid Koala, Skratch Bastid, Jazzy Jeff and Maseo were just a sampling of the titans in town to additionally judge the contestants, and offer up daily lecture series at the Thompson Hotel.

No stranger to the adage “you can’t dance at every wedding” I cherry picked which events or lectures spoke to me personally — and proceeded from there.

I first attended the lecture series that featured DJ Jazzy Jeff on November 6th and it was such a pleasure to listen to him wax poetic about his craft. I grew up loving his collaborations with The Fresh Prince (Will Smith’s early rap alias) and gems like “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand” and “Summer Time” were influential classics that shaped an entire generation of Hip-Hop fans (myself included).
Additionally, I saw him perform many times as a solo outfit in Montreal at the famed after-hours night club Sona, where he would blow everyone away with his signature style and epic turntable skills.

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DJ Jazzy Jeff

This lecture was not just a *glimpse* into the history books, but a linear timeline of his early days in Philly, to an intricate discussion of how he’s parlayed a 25+year career that he “never could have predicted.”

Here is just a sampling of his insights.

In West Philadelphia Born and Raised…”

We used to have a lot of block parties in Philly. I remember one of the guys called Disco Doc, and [he] would have a massive sound system–so he got a reputation from having these giant speakers that were two stories high. This guy was basically controlling everyone there through the songs he played. He changed the emotions and made everyone happy and I was looking at it from his perspective, and thought–I want to be like him!

Two Turn Tables with a Mic?

I didn’t have two turn tables for a very long time. Back then you got with a crew and you wanted to find the guy in the crew whose mom and pop had a really good job and bought it for him. His [DJ skills] could have sucked but in the crew he was a king. Everyone spent their own money on their own 45’s and it went from there.

Old Schooll Vs New School

Carrying records [in crates] made you better! You sat in front of your boxes and you thought out what are you going to play. You didn’t have a plan B.”

From Vinyl to Digital

“I was one of the first DJ’s on Serato [software]. And I remember [playing] and DJ’s were coming around just to see it. It was something new–this was ‘the microwave.’ You had to show them ‘hey I’m manipulating this just like a record. Technology doesn’t make you a better DJ. If you suck before Serato you suck after Serato. The only thing this does is allow you to travel around with your music collection [on the road].

Practice Makes Perfect?

“I know this is going to sound strange but I have never practiced. As a DJ the idea of improvisation is incredible. I kind of have an idea what I’m going to play, but I always leave myself room to just pick it up on the fly. Some of the best sets I’ve ever done were when I just closed my eyes and [see where it takes me].

Death of the Rap Group DJ

Who’s 50 Cents DJ? Who’s Jay-Z’s ? Where was the cut off? At what point in time did someone decide… ‘I don’t really need this guy?’

***

That night I attended the Virgin Mobile Mod Club for the evening competition.
Toronto-based DJ Starting From Scratch warmed up the crowd for the first hour.

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DJ Starting From Scratch

His forte is classic Hip-Hop and his skill set is so smooth, so FLUID, it’s difficult to even tell how good he is because his execution seems so effortless. He’s not overly animated with the crowd, but he has such an aura about him that he doesn’t have to be.

Metaphorically speaking, you could have hooked me up to an IV drip of his set and listened to him play ALL night long…happily.

Next up were Red Bull former champions 2011’s HEDSPIHN and 2012’s Four Color Zack who were playing in tandem–that everyone seemed to be lapping up–except for me.

I found them to be ‘messy‘ in their technical approach, their musical styles to be all over the map, and a little too self-satisfied with their comedy interludes that they would throw in between their sets. I wasn’t feeling the magic. Sorry guys.

Next were the 15 minute sets divided by four international contestants. They were to be judged on song selection, over-all style, crowd reaction and technical/turntablism skills.

It was riveting to see how in some ways geography tinted their performances, and yet at the end of the day how universal music truly is.

Well, for most of them.

First up was DJ Undoo from Romania.

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DJ Undoo had all the flavor and charisma of a wet blanket. He never once made eye contact with the audience, while his music barely struck a chord. Did someone forget to tell him he was on stage playing ‘live’ to a sea of hundreds of people? This was not championship league, by a long shot.
Lost in Translation table for one?

Next up was DJ Oli Dobolli from Croatia.

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His style was rather experimental. He played the famed Quincy Jones instrumental ‘Soul Bossa Nova’ which got this Canadian crowd amped up as it was the theme to the Canuk game show ‘Definition‘ and was also a huge sample in the Dream Warriors track ‘My Definition’. He also mixed Classic Rock into some Rap, some EDM, and at times some manic Dubstep plates which felt like a grenade was having rabbit sex with my ear drums.

All in all a fantastic set.

DJ Eskel83 from Germany was a bona fide performer in every sense of the word.

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From the second he started his set with Biggie’s “Hypnotize” he commanded everyone’s attention. His engagement and sheer CONTROL of the crowd was something that really set him apart. At times fist pumping and lip synching with such animation that bolstered the crowd to new energetic levels. Other times, putting finger to pursed lips, so that the audience could hear a specific transition or sample.

What a TRUE showman.

Last to the stage was DJ Shintaro from Japan.

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Another high energy performer, Shintaro started off his set with the theme to Super Mario Brothers, which was a cheeky ode to Japanese gaming culture, mixed in some impressive Hip-Hop tunes and some crazy hard-core Dubstep.

Grenades. Humping Rabbits. Oh My Ears!

In another caricaturized offering of his heritage, he played a traditional Koto inspired interlude–something he probably saves for his international dates. He’s in on the joke, which makes it even better, rounding out the song with his signature scratching skills. I swear I saw sparks come off the records, his scratching is that crisp.

I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I feel it’s part of his over-all allure to see this handsome exotic creature with a head of blond hair, almost albino pale skin, lip synch to some of the baddest rap tracks out there.

After some great transitions that included Queen’s ‘”We Are the Champions,” some Reggae and More Hip-Hop, he bookended his set by ending it with how he started–scratching in a syncopated awesomely synergized pace to the Super Mario Bros theme. “I see what you did there,” Host DJ Flipout would say.

*NB. Dj Shinatro ended up winning the 2013 championship title and I’m so thankful I was able to see him play ‘live’.

***

My next highlight was my sit down interview with DJ Maseo who to this day remains the official DJ for the rap outfit De La Soul I say this with intentional admiration as so many of the classic, integral rap groups of the 80’s and 90’s have dismantled or fled into obscurity.

While De La Soul went on to release 6 albums other albums, their original offering Three Feet High and Rising stands as their critically acclaimed triumph, teeming with creativity and a cornucopia of sampling that is considered a hip-hop masterpiece to this day.

Being asked to be part of these programs for Red Bull has been honorable and very inspiring,” says Maseo who describes the friendly atmosphere of Thre3 Style akin to “DJ [summer] camp.” I’m amongst all the ones I love and respect,” citing DJ Jazzy Jeff as the “ambassador of all ambassadors!”

While he is committed to mentoring a new generation of talent, he humbly admits that he is still a student who is learning. “I’ll never classify myself as a professor. These new artists have adapted something in their modern world with technology and it’s very relevant and significant. If there’s a generation gap then there’s a bridge that is truly being built! I’m feeling the same love in 2013 from a 22 year-old that I did in 1989 from a 22-year-old. It’s been a blessing.

While no stranger to the complexities of copyright — (De La Soul was sued by the sixties pop group The Turtles for using a sample from their 1969 hit “You Showed Me” for an interlude track on Three Feet High and Rising) and Maseo had some sobering words for Robin Thicke et al who are being sued for their mammoth hit “Blurred Lines.”

Based on the years of what’s been documented, you would think he would know better? So at the end of the day, he’s truly about to get what he deserves. He should have taken care of business. What’s publicly being said, and what’s going to be resolved, is going to be two different things. That’s what I know for a fact.

Talking with Maseo and enjoying his warm and affable company (and his signature bellowing laugh!) was a dream come true. I have always stated that ‘if you don’t know the album ‘Three Feet and Rising’ front to back and everywhere in between, you can’t know Hop-Hop!

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The Timeless Masterpiece

Like whipped cream on an already generous sundae, Maseo was kind enough to sign my personal copy which topped off the entire experience for me!

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Me, Myself & DJ Maseo!

Suh-Weet!

XOXO
The Pop Culture Rainman
 

Should Robin Thicke Apologize? Only Time Will Tell…

Indecent Twerking

Indecent Twerking

If you don’t follow my twitter (and you SHOULD) you would have missed the many lambastings I made towards Miley Cyrus and that cringe-worthy cartoon of a performance she exhibited at the MTV VMA Awards Sunday night.

To sum up, I called her a GREASY, tongue-wagging, try-hard, NON-talent, Hillbilly, who made me want to wash my brain with BLEACH after watching her STUNT. And I say stunt, because using a Giant foam finger to simulate sex with or to use as a faux-phallus is a shock and awe tactic to distract from any kind of REAL Substance, nothing more.

Now, in the other corner, is Robin Thicke…a talented R&B ARTIST who has been working on his vocal craft for over 15 years. Blurred Lines is essentially the culmination of years of hard work, great timing, luck, and five previous album releases. Yes FIVE…there is NO such thing as an overnight success, and if there is, it’s temporary I promise you.

So back to Sunday night…Robin & Miley did their collab that had many people JUST as disgusted with Robin Thicke as they were with Miley.

I actually didn’t see Robin in a bad light after this at all; I simply think it was a poor judgement call/short-sightedness on his part. The need to appear within the 18-25 demographic that his summer anthem Blurred Lines placed him in, was a pressure cooker scenario waiting to boil over.

I’m not an ageist…but Robin is a married dad…there’s some decorum that he needs to adhere to that doesn’t apply to a bachelor like Pharrell Williams. People complained about their music video? It’s like Romper Room in comparison to Miley’s skeevy raunch.

First of all, the age difference between the two (he’s 38 she’s 20) made Robin appear like a Pedo McPedophile.

However, if you watch the segment back…he NEVER even touches Miley. She was the one who was greasing ALLLLLL over him in every which way, and she is the one who backed herself up into his nether region for that ‘money shot’.

What was he supposed to do…run away on live TV? Maybe it was all intricately choreographed, but she laid it on THICK, with an extra slab of sex-vomit.

He should have done a collab with Bruno Mars. Safer, and higher calibre of talent. It was a terrible idea, one that was probably thought up by the MTV camp. Shock and Awe is the name of the game at the MTV awards, I’m aware. But you can agree not to participate. Even grown married men need to learn not to cower to the pressure, but I don’t BLAME him.

Apparently Paula Patton, Thicke’s wife was at rehearsals and sources are claiming that she is totally “cool” with the whole thing.

I call HORSE PUCKY! (That’s Hillbilly for B.S.)

Rehearsals are one thing. A LIVE performance that is enhanced by swarms of fans, adrenaline and who knows what else is ANOTHER. She can’t possibly feel good about what she saw, nor the backlash that accompanied it. Even if she was smiling afterwards, she has to be conflicted about the whole thing.

Yes, even her mother-in-law Gloria Loring had a few choice words to say about the whole erm, ‘display‘.

"Mom Knows Best"

“Mom Knows Best”

I didn’t get what her point was,” Loring said. “It was so over the top as to almost be a parody of itself. I think she’s misbegotten in this attempt of hers. And I think it was not beneficial.”

So here’s why I think Robin Thicke will eventually apologize in some way or try to distance himself from the episode just like Justin Timberlake did with Janet Jackson after the Superbowl scandal that was dubbed ‘Nipple Gate.’ If you remember, Timberlake waited a WHOLE week post Super Bowl to make a statement, and many people saw his ‘apology’ as throwing Janet Jackson ‘under the bus’ in her darkest hour.

Ms. Jackson is an ICON and I get why many thought Timberlake’s apology was an abandonment of sorts.

But Miley Cyrus? I say throw her straight INTO the BUS Robin Thicke.

Clear your name of this DISASTER!!!

Thankfully Thicke is under the Universal label imprint and Miley is under Sony.

What Does This Mean?

This is an essential distinction for him to be able to make a statement in the coming days, as they are NOT label mates, and therefore there is no political red tape for him to wade through should he want to speak his mind. Miley has her new album coming out soon, and a statement of any kind could drastically affect her record sales and HE KNOWS THIS. It would be prohibited if they were on the same label for him to speak, and I’m so glad this won’t play a factor in his decision to do so.

I personally think rather than come out with an official statement, that we will see some admissions of regret in future interviews as he continues to promote his album. It will be subtle, but it will be there.

As for Miley…I’m convinced she will be a foot note in the hall of whore famed history books, and that is not me slut shaming her; she has SHAMED herself.

She got into the business through the “Nepotism Express” via Disney’s Hannah Montana. Her singing is AVERAGE and she can’t act her way out of a paper bag as has been proven from the films she’s been in post Montana. I don’t have the patience to watch this little girl, and yes, she is a LITTLE GIRL prove to the world how she is not Hannah Montana (we get it Miley, we REALLY get it)

It’s exhausting and feels draped in entitlement.

She should serve as a CAUTIONARY tale for the Disney machine constructs that end up raising millions of impressionable young girls only to CHEW OFF the precious little hands that once fed them.

RIP Hannah Montana

RIP Hannah Montana

 

 

I have to go wash my brain now.

UPDATE: Robin Thicke makes a pseudo “soft apology” citing his [crotch] was an ‘innocent party’ at the VMA’s Here That’s code for “I’m throwing you under the bus Ms. Miley” now that your album officially dropped days ago and I can speak my mind and save my marriage!

XOXO
The Pop Culture Rainman
My Twitter: @ReneeGold1