Everyone wants to be a DJ these days – it’s so simple, you go on Ebay, and buy some CD players or click on to the net and download something to play tunes in a row off your hard drive – but that’s merely button pressing. When I think DJ, I think 2 (or more) turntables, a mixer and a boot load of vinyl. So when it’s the UK DMC finals it’s time to get the best view possible and nerd out over the real DJs rocking real vinyl in a battle format. MC Trip from SpitKingdom is our host for the night and got us going (and on time) in to the sets, and entertained when the DJs were setting up – definitely need to get to a SpitKingdon show soon, they put the fun back in to hip-hop.
The first qualifying rounds are regional. If you make it through those you will find yourself on stage at Islington Academy with 90 seconds to take your opponent out. Some DJs prefer to just straight flex their technical ability; some choose to get a ton of samples together to diss their opponent. Tonight was a blend of the two.
The UK Supremacy head to head battles threw up a varied level of talent – practice makes perfect when you’re at home on your bedroom set – but when you’re in front of a hungry crowd and some former world champs judging shit happens; some step up while some fall off and choke. Some notables that never made it through were the likes of Mr Eclipse who had some innovative juggles and Buckwilde pulling out “Strawberry Fields” from his dad’s record collection. Shining through the qualifier was DJ Jeppa with his clean, organised sets and the more abusive DJ Switch who constantly strung sampled diss sentences together and flicked a middle finger at his opponents. These two breezed it to the final where both knew they had to step up a few levels to stay in contention. Switch took the number one spot, and a 50″ flatscreen TV for his efforts, but more importantly, a spot in the world final.
Live PAs broke up the battles with a set from Skitz and one time Demon Boy MC Million Dan rocking the crowd with some old skool styles with dirrrrrty south style beats and a HUGE cold chain – plus a short set from Hobbit, a 20 year old beatboxer, keeping the crowd entertained until the stage was set for the big boys.
The UK Finals are a more serious affair – a one off shot at making it through to the World Finals. The guys who qualified from the earlier heats definitely saved some weapons from their arsenal for their sets – Jeppa was again very clean and on point, his beats were stomping and he was a lot more confident – others worth a mention were Pandemonium for his tight beat juggles and more fun feel as well as Furious Fiend who was maybe the fastest DJ on the night, a total step up.
Coming through with the 3rd place was DJ Switch, who set up the crowd with some crafty cuts. Whilst his set was much hotter, he wasted a lot of time with acapella disses when he should have been dropping it heavy for the crowd. Sure he qualified, but I’m not convinced that he is a legit contender; he has 2 months to come up with something for his World Supremacy battle set, its gonna be much tougher in the finals.
2nd place was close with Brighton’s JFB pleasing the crowd by dropping some Prodigy and the guaranteed show stopper that is Chemical Brother’s “Block Rocking Beats“. It was easy to see why he was last year’s UK champ, using a more varied sound than hip hop and very at home with bigger harder beat. A strong all round DJ and producer, might feel hard done by when he isn’t in the finals, but the rights to that were snapped up by…
DJ Skully, former UK champ and back for his crown, which, to be fair, he took with his usual nonchalance by just rocking straight in to a set and killing it. Utter confidence with his mixing helps him be a little more tricky live than some of the others who perhaps played it a little too safe. He chose to drop heavy scratch routines that actually sounded more musical and fitting than some of the others who just speedily crabbed through any sample that came up on their battle wax. The crowd went mental and the judges were unanimous in choosing Skully as the night’s top man to go to the final, taking a 50″ flatscreen TV, a camcorder, more Drunken Monkey gear than one man can wear plus a bunch of DJ goodies with him.
After the final sets we were blown away by the live set from The Beat Torrent. This was undoubtedly the best PA of the night with 2 DJs, each armed with 2 decks, a mixer, a laptop and a midi controller combining in a spectacular and seamless fashion to create some heavy tunes; one mixing the beats up the other dropping samples and scratching. Their timing was studio perfect, they were having fun out there and the crowd were definitely happy to wait for the DMC final results with these to keep them occupied. If you can, don’t hesitate on seeing these dudes live. More varied than a hip-hop set – think Pendulum crossed with Kerrang TV and you’re on the money!
So after the results were thrashed out by the likes of Cutmaster Swift and Mr Thing, to name but a couple, more beats were dropped, sponsors were thoroughly name dropped, and some guy from a drinks firm gave me a card and said “could you drop our brands name if you’re writing a review?” and didn’t even hit me off with a drink. So Technics, Ortofon, Drunken Monkey and CK definitely made sure the night went off without a hitch. I’m sure that particular energy drink company did something but you know…
See you at the 02 Arena for the finals on the 26/27 September – it’s going to be all out war!