A regional bracket of the Red Bull Big Tune "Head to Head Producer Battle" takes place tonight at Pop's. The event is "inspired by the spirit of the Jamaican reggae/dancehall culture," specifically the soundclashes which pitted talented DJs against each other. In Red Bull's regional competitions, the setup is similar: Twelve entrants - who were hand-picked by Red Bull Big Tune creators Vitamin D & Jonathan Moore and Red Bull Big Tune music curator Jake One -- compete against each other, two at a time, using original beats they've made. The winner and runner-up (who are chosen via audience reaction) will be flown to Chicago for the November 18 final showdown. The grand prize winner gets the chance to work with a well-known artist at Santa Monica's Red Bull Studios; past collaborators have included Ghostface Killah and Nas.
Besides featuring a performance by well-respected producers Alchemist & Hi-Tek, the Pop's event features three St. Louis producers: Tech Supreme, Foxx Starstrukk and Trifeckta. The latter has his hands in multiple local projects and songs, including: Rockwell Knuckles' "Silly Human," Ruka Puff's "Turkey/Hamm," Legend Camp's "Kung Fu Joe," Family Affair's "Sunshine," Hears Kra-z's "Attention" and Tef Poe's "Days of My Life." He also worked on a new project, The Digital Drop, due on Thanksgiving, which was put together by the production team Radio Rock Music. ("We host quite a few local artists on it, so stay tuned," he says.) In advance of tonight's event, Trifeckta answered a few questions. The event tonight is at 9 p.m. There's a $5 suggested charity donation, or you can RSVP here.
Annie Zaleski: For those unfamiliar, describe what a production battle is. How is it different than a DJ battle? What do you have to do in the competition? Trifeckta: A "beat battle," from my point of view, is a showcase of music production. Several producers/beatmakers get together [and] take turns playing their beats/instrumentals. Most of the time, the winner is the producer who has the most potent style of beats/instrumentals. Traditionally, beat battles are known for "boom/bap," stripped down sample beats (i.e., beats that are constructed from the chopped audio of previously recorded works, layered with original instrumentation and sounds). It's really all about doing what you do, with what you have, and having it appeal to others.
What are the criteria by which the judges choose the winner? Judges usually go off of the crowd's reaction to the beat, as well as sound quality, and the general "feel" of the beat. With any good music, a feel is achieved. If you can make people feel a certain way about the beat, then you know you've at least won over their ears and soul for that one moment in time. Hopefully, your feel is more potent and magnetic than your opponents' [feel].
How were you chosen to compete? Being that I've always loved the whole beat battle concept, I battled online for five years. Just like any hobby or interest, if you're really into it, you read message boards, ask questions and eventually look up and find yourself in a whole new world of information. I heard about it in one of the online battle chat rooms, and then went to YouTube to see when, where and how it all goes down. Red Bull seemed to have the most respected situation going, and they usually had one coming to another nearby city. For the past three years I've applied at redbullusa.com. I didn't get any type of response, yay or nay, until this year when Jake One sent out all the official invitation emails.
St. Louis is one of the few cities chosen to compete. How was the city picked, do you know? That's quite an honor. I have no clue, but I'm glad they decided -- it saves me hella gas money and vacation days.
What can you tell us about the others competing - do any stand out to you for their work/music/style? (Keeping in mind I'm familiar with Tech Supreme.) Tech Supreme is aight -- he got some stuff. [Laughs] Naw, Tech is my friend in music, as well as a mentor on the business end of things. He actually co-hosted the first live beat battle competition that I ever competed in, "Integrity" at Bluebrry Hill with Finsta and DJ Trackstar. He's talented, and I know for a fact that he has beats just playin' around that could be a problem for other competitors. It's The Force.
Foxx Starstrukk -- I'm jealous of her! [Laughs] I told her about the event a few months ago, and she made it in on her first submission! She's Emmy-nominated with the production group she is a part of, Starstrukk Entertainment. She and her partner Rick Tha Rular earned their nomination from their "Shy Ronnie" SNL skit, which featured Rihanna. Foxx also collabs with me on more experimental music for fun, as well as tutors me on the piano. I have no clue what she's gonna bring, but she's more than qualified to be in this competition.
Tech, Foxx, and I are the only St Louis competitors. I don't know the rest of the field for real, but I do remember the name M80, from my online battling. Dude is pretty tough.
Personally, what's your background in music? Have you always done production? I play with sounds until they make sense. No real rhyme or reason. Some of my stuff defies music theory, only because it's just ignorant. But that's why I'm taking my piano lessons. I do have a general "ear" for music. My grandmother plays piano, and has since before I was ever thought of as a viable possibility to walk the earth. She plays piano and organ for churches all over still to this day. My mom and my aunts grew up singing in the church, and some in other arenas and genre of music. I listened to the Quiet Storm on Majik 108 countless times; I paid attention to how the music was generally constructed and presented. I used to be that guy that busted the beat out on the lunch table tops at school for the other cats to rap. I love sounds in general. I create with the intent to share a feel.
Anything else you want to add? I do this music stuff for fun. I don't do it to be the homecoming king of the city. I try to be realistic. No one has flown me out of town or given me a big Publisher's Clearing House check to go cash, so I try to treat everybody fair; as I would like to be treated. I may try to take it to the "next level," but I'm just trying to have fun for right now. If it ain't fun, it's expendable. But anyway, I encourage everybody that has a dream, to research it, and go for it. It's all attainable, but it takes more than who you work with, and how much talent you possess. My main goal throughout this whole ten years of making beats, was to be respected by the other who do the same thing, maybe make a decent record with a talented artist, and to make it into the Red Bull Big Tunes beat battle tournament. Everything else, y'all can have it. Opportunity is all around us right now -- stlouisisdointhedamnthing!