More than one thousand music and hip-hop enthusiasts flocked to the Metro in Chicago to watch producers from around the country compete to find out who had the next “Big Tune." Eighteen burgeoning music producers participated in head-to-head battles in one of the nine qualifying cities before migrating on to the Red Bull Big Tune National Finals in Chicago. At the end of the night it was clear that the producers hailing from Detroit had won the crowd over, leading into the final round that pit Detroit against Detroit. Ultimately, 14KT pleased the audience with his fresh beats and energetic style winning the 2010 National Finals.
“I’m set apart just based on where I’m from,” says this native of Ypsilanti, Michigan. “Each producer is coming from a different city and environment, so when you apply that to the music, the styles are going to vary.”
Drawing from Detroit’s abundant musical wealth, 14KT has spent the last 15 years integrating elements of techno, hip-hop, soul, electro and gospel to create a sound that keeps him in demand. After previously winning the Detroit qualifier in 2008, 14KT earned second place as the runner-up at this year’s first Red Bull Big Tune qualifier in Austin, TX. He was just concluding his third appearance in Austin after returning from a European tour with Buff1. Detroit’s 14KT will now be heading into Red Bull Studios in LA in the near future to record with an A-list artist of his choice. In past years, names have included Common, Ghostface, The Game, Ludacris, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli and NAS.
14KT is not the only producer already on the fast track, hailing from different backgrounds, each producer came with a unique story and sound. This year’s National runner-up, NOSPEAKERZ, includes “Bee Lee,” and when Bee Lee isn’t producing beats or rapping, he may be at the local barbershop cutting hair. The only time he turned down the opportunity to trim up an established artist was on the evening of the Red Bull Big Tune qualifier in Detroit last month. That artist ended up in the front row that night at St. Andrews Hall and witnessed NOSPEAKERZ’ talent and dedication. Only a few weeks later and they already have a track produced with Detroit-native Obie Trice.
A NIGHT OF FRESH BEATS AND SURPRISE GUESTS
The beats that played throughout the night included a mix of genres with unique synth-styles, anthemic rhythms, syncopation and videogame-like sounds fused with drums and bass. Shout-outs were given throughout the night to fans, hometowns, grandmothers and other hip-hop artists.
A coin-flip started each head-to-head battle but the end result was based on the crowd’s determination through cheers, hollers and overall applause.
“I gotta work on my personality for the crowd and adjusting my style to more hip-hop,” mentioned Philly competitor The Incredible Stro after the first round.
Just Blaze featured a “Chicago Flip” battle between the nine winners of the first round, a task assigned by Jake One using a sample beat by one of Chicago’s pioneers of funk, Curtis Mayfield. Whoever flipped the weakest wouldn’t get to move on, and although the A-for-effort was handed to Boon Doc, Just Blaze still requested a sample from him to have and pass along.
“Same sample, different sound,” explained Just Blaze. “You gotta be different… and take risks.”
Special performances by Just Blaze and DJ Premier kept the party going while stunning MPC performances by Exile and Araab Muzik kept everyone’s attention. The bass was blowing back the hair of several while tabletops of the DJ stands had to get bolted down for extra security, resulting in WTF-responses from the hosts, the competitors and the audience who all got to witness some unbelievable beat-making talent. The floor represented a factory of bobble-heads by the time the semi-finals were on the line between LA’s Hitmakers, Portland’s Xperiment, and Detroit’s 14KT and NOSPEAKERZ.
BATTLING BEYOND THE BEATS
The overall Red Bull Big Tune experience went way beyond the entertainment factor. Each producer flew into Chicago last Monday and had a week full of mentorship and educational outreach programs provided by the founders of Red Bull Big Tune, Jonathan Moore, Jake One and Vitamin D.
While searching for the next big name in music production, Red Bull Big Tune also took the time to reach out to inner city kids through a music education outreach program at local music schools, colleges and community centers. The program hosts shared vital information about the art of making music and the business tips needed to navigate the industry that help inspire and create the future beat makers of America.
THE ROOTS OF IT ALL
Big Tune began in 2004 as the brainchild of DJ/producer/emcee Vitamin D and hip-hop visionary/event producer Jonathan Moore with the purpose of bringing emerging and established talent to the forefront. After three years of hosting thriving local battles in Seattle, they forged a creative partnership with Red Bull and the event evolved into a dynamic national producer program. Red Bull Big Tune made its national television debut on the BET Network last spring with a half-hour show chronicling the 2008 national finals in New York City. All-star acts such as Digable Planets, Ghostface Killah, Alchemist and Sha Money made cameos.
THE 2010 QUALIFYING PRODUCER RESULTS
Winner: The Incredible Stro
Runner-up: T Mos
TIE Winner: Cam; Hitmakers
Winner: Boon Doc
Winner: G Mo
Runner-up: Mike “Em80” DuPree
Runner-up: Big Pops
For more information, visit www.redbullbigtune.com