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The Return of Sound Battle Royale: You Can’t Kill A Good Idea [Review/Photos]

Toronto, ON – After last year’s grand finale at Wrongbar with Jake One, Sound Battle Royale could have gracefully bowed out, and sailed into the sunset of Toronto music history like so many other great ideas have. But through determination, faith and innovation, SBR launched year 2 of Canada’s only live beat battle series last month, proving that it would be a Canadian hip-hop tradition worth carrying on much further into our future.

Sound Battle Royale 1

The seven producers for the night included Memorecks, Fresh Kils, KemiKAL C-Sharp, royceBIRTH, Mr. Acres, 7 Keyz, and Mr J.O. who came with nothing but neck-snapping bangers and head-spinning instrumentals for the packed crowd at the Bread and Circus in Kensington Market. With Junia T’s magnetic personality properly holding down the master of ceremony position and DJ Law dropping joints that had a mad circle of breakdancers throwing down lovely before the first beat dropped, you knew the night was going to be good. Special guests like DJ Mastermind came out to show love and there were even a few SBR competitors from last year, including 2010 winner, Peter Project, who came out to scope this year’s competition.

Flip and Sample, the first of three beat challenges consisted of producers flipping the Rocky theme. Best known as the song sampled in Biggie’s “Victory”, producers were forced to create something that didn’t hide in the shadows of such a well-known track. Each producer dropped their beat and the crowd literally lost it, responding louder and louder to the producer who dropped the hottest beat. Producers played their beats live and some, like SBR newcomer 7-Keyz, used 49-key midis to really show the crowd who deserved the title as Toronto’s livest beatmaker.

By the end of the first challenge the judges quickly realized that SBR had just taken the concept of live beat making to a whole new level. The esteemed panel of judges included, Mo’Jointz (Producer Manager and Co-owner of HipHopCanada), Rich Kidd (Ridgeway Entertainment), Tone Mason, and Rodrigo Bascuñán (Editor, Pound Magazine).

After an electrifying first challenge, it was hard to know how producers would outdo themselves. Then came the second beat challenge: Remix. Producers were given a mysterious accapella to a well-known hip hop track. The mystery acapella was Jay-Z and Rick Rubin’s raw rock-and-roll jaw-dropper, 99 Problems. To some, making a remix to that would be a tall task, but it’s what separated the really talented from the cats who thought they could download FL-Studio and call themselves producers. One-by-one, producers played original music to the popular track, creating their own interlopations that electrified the room. The standout beat came from Memorecks, who brought out not one, but two MPC’s and played them live and then played the piano to create one of the most original remixes I have ever heard. It was a moment the solidified why Toronto’s hip hop scene was finally getting the love and support we had always deserved.

What happened next was one of the reasons Toronto needs to stand the fuck up and be proud of its own homegrown talent. Adam Bomb, who in my opinion is a Toronto legend, stepped to the stage took this thing we call hip hop to a whole new level. Dropping five joints, some off his recently-released album ‘Wasted Talent’ (you need to get it).  He not only killed it, but made the crowd hungry for more. The pride and praise in the air was powerful to say the least, and it proved the formula for Sound Battle Royale was properly coming into form. A new school live producer showcase with a few short MC performances, some breakdancing, beautiful people and good music? Sounds like some kind of hip hop heaven.

The final challenge, Rock the House, paired producers up with MC’s (shouts to Thrust and Kaiser Soze). Each producer was randomly assigned to work with an MC to create an original dope performance over original music on the spot. By combining MC’s and producers, SBR had found a way to show Toronto that this isn’t just a beat battle, it’s a movement that will unite Toronto hip hop.

By the end, the crowd has listened to 21 original beats by seven dope, up-and-coming producers. Some had used MPC’s, others used midis and laptops, but everyone brought their A-game. In the end, the judges declared MEMORECKS as the winner of Round One. A well-deserved win for the hip hop hitmaker. His productions all night were nothing short of stunning. As the winner of Round One. Memorecks now has one of four spots in the SBR finals where he will compete for over $2000 in cash and prizes.

Without question, SBR 2011 has created a unique musical experience in the city of Toronto. Peace, love, respect and appreciation to all the volunteers, photographers, videographers, bartenders, sound technicians, live Ustream operators, and artists who contributed to this night being so wonderful. And much love to Dayna (Tonika) Movée for keeping Sound Battle Royale alive. Until the next round, please stay banging on those MPC pads.

Round 2 is July 22, 2011.

To enter the battle check out

Photography by Isa Ransome

Written by Addi “Mindbender” Stewart for HipHopCanada


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