With a buzz in the air at the Jackalope Lounj, the Miltown Beat Down began this year's competition last night to a completely packed house and with several close battles.
The room began filling up at about 9 p.m., and by the time the beats dropped at 10 – or shortly thereafter – the Lounj was nearly at capacity.
Every year, event organizer Jordan "Madhatter" Lee tosses a wrinkle into the battle to keep things fresh and vital. The wrinkle for this year's competition is before each battle takes place, participants must play the remix they submitted to Jordan as a part of their beat package when they registered.
Lee says that this small change is a great way to have the producers introduce themselves and their style to the crowd.
The first battle was between Beat Down veteran Bubba and Tre Cold. Bubba brought his equipment with him on stage to essentially perform the beats live, though it was more triggering the sequencing and sounds that he had loaded into the machine. It was honestly pretty cool to see. Bubba was the standout of this round and won over Tre Cold fairly handily with a score of 366 to 217.
The next battle of the night was between another long time Beat Down contestant, The White Russian, and producer O.V.A. Though O.V.A. fared better than Tre Cold against a Beat Down vet, he was still defeated by a large margin. The White Russian won the battle 400 to 271.
The third battle of the night was between the newly dubbed Audio Pilot (formerly Dave Derrilykt) and Jungle Boy. Audio Pilot is another Beat Down regular and he beat Jungle Boy in a fairly even match in scoring: 299-229. I do have to note that Prophetic, one of the five judges of the night, favored Jungle Boy.
The final battle of the first round pitted two Beat Down newbies against each other: DJ Heavyweight versus Cash Beatz. The muscle man DJ Heavyweight easily won this battle, scoring 324 points to Cash Beatz's 177.
After the first round was completed, three specific things stood out to me. The new participants needed to do a much better job mixing their beats. One quarter of the points is based on sonic quality, so the polish that the vets showed helped them very much in beating their competition. Another thing is that the crowd reaction is completely integral to whether or not somebody wins. With 50 percent of the points based on how the crowd reacts to the producer, it's the biggest chunk of points a producer can field, so bringing everybody you know to cheer for you is more important than one might think. The final thing is that several of the producers didn't present beats that were battle formatted. The change ups were minimal and a drop or drum fill here or there wasn't impressing anybody.
The final two battles of the night pitted the winners against each other in battles that would determine who would take the first two spots at the June 10 finals at Turner Hall.
The first match up with Bubba versus The White Russian, and this was the battle of the night. Both producers have a distinct sound that they achieve with their beats, and both are pleasing, so head-to-head they went and after the three rounds, a "beat off" was given to the artists.
A "beat off" takes place when things are very close based on the crowd reaction, so each producer gets to play one more beat.
While they were even going into the "beat off" beat, The White Russian cleaned up with the crowd and won the closest battle of the night, scoring 377 points to Bubba's 366, thus locking up the first Miltown Beat Down finals spot. I should also note that I, who happened to be a judge, favored Bubba in this battle.
The next battle saw Audio Pilot face DJ Heavyweight in a battle that saw some of the old school psyche-out tricks that have helped to make the Miltown Beat Down so enjoyable. Where DJ Heavyweight played it cool and kept his face solid as stone, Audio Pilot went crazy on stage and was Kid Cut Up's unofficial dance contest winner of the night. At one point, he acted like he was sleeping when Heavyweight was playing one of his beats, and for Audio Pilot's final beat, Dave let out his inner rock star and showed more energy than I remember him showing at previous battles. He definitely came to entertain.
The crowd favored Audio Pilot and he won his round 351 to 337, locking him in as the second finalist.
The other judges of the night were Tarik Moody of 88Nine, DJ Slym of RUN MKE, and DJ Bizzon of theMadKids and Tap Milwaukee.
The battles continue next Thursday at the same place and time. I encourage you to get there early because by 11 p.m., capacity was reached and there was a line of two dozen people outside that wanted in.
Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Brown Deer, Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus Poppe has spent the majority of his life in or around the city and county of Milwaukee.
As an advocate of Milwaukee's hip-hop community Poppe began popular local music blog Milwaukee UP in March 2010. Check out the archived entries here.
Though heavy on the hip-hop, Poppe writes about other genres of music and occasionally about food, culture or sports, and is always ready to show his pride in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.