DJ Shintaro wins $25K at World's Biggest DJ Battle
After a week of consistently busting at the seams and sold out shows at some of Toronto's best live venues, the Red Bull Thre3style World Championship touched down at The Kool Haus Saturday night for an all-out DJ Hero-styled battle to determine whose beats reigned supreme.
Four crowned finalists from far-flung corners of the world DJ Byte: Chile), DJ Trentino: US, Eskei83: Germany, DJ Marquinhos Espinosa: Brazil) were chosen to compete, along with two extra wild cards (DJ Shintaro: Japan(DJ Bazooka: Switzerland, picked at the esteemed judges discretion. And what judges. The deciding jury that sat within an inner cordoned off podium or "sanctuary" was made up of a top class turntable and hip-hop legends who need little to no introduction like DJ Jazzy Jeff, Canadian cut-master prodigy, Kid Koala, Toronto's Skratch Bastid, Montreal's Grandtheft and Brooklyn's Jubilee.
After six years, it really feels like Thre3style is coming into its own as the global barometer for battle DJ talent and innovation, surpassing the old guard DMC Turntable Championships, founded in the late 80s. While the DMCs are focused on specific tricks and all that you can do with a turntable, Red Bull's tourney allows a generous 15 minutes of mad scientist-caliber experimentation incorporating tools, software, keyboards, props (shout out to Brazil for the hand drum) focusing loosely on three genres of music.
Genres covered by competitors across the board ranged from expected bass heavy styles like hip-hop, dancehall, big room EDM anthems, fidgety trap beats, jungle/drum & bass, and then even some left field choices like retro pop, The Beatles (South Korea's DJ Acorn!), movie soundtracks, or straight up crafted custom vocal samples (yes, Eskei83, you are one the best! Slick Beanie Man shout outs!)
After six intense back-to-back battle segments peppered with pithy commentary from the week's MCs, DJ "I see what you did there" Flipout and Rap City's T-RexXx, Japan's unexpected underdog DJ Shintaro was crowned victorious for his prowess but also creativity and 8-bit tributes like his opening Tetris theme remix, and an extended Super Mario Brothers theme scratch routine. Stunned and beside himself, the 24 year old mustered a polite "thank you" before getting over the shock and taking a hearty swig of champagne (or was it Red Bull?) loaded trophy as he was presented with a turntable plaque, a copper-plated championship Rane 62 mixer, thousand dollar Sennheiser headphones, and a cash prize of $25,000.
Along with world class competing turntablists, the evening's entertainment was supported by an all Canadian cast of DJs including Thugli, Grandtheft, Autoerotique, Keys N Krates (who've mostly dropped the live remix band formula and are now moving towards a live trap/bass set up, and the fast-rising Native Canadian DJ threesome, A Tribe Called Red, who performed with a trippy video show borrowing clips of their ancestors, which also served as a cartoon history lesson using scenes from Bravestarr, Silverhawks, Captain Planet and others, synced to their custom Electric Pow Wow, or Moombahwow, beats.
Photos by Brian Morton