Opera North

LIVE: Task Force & Beatbox Championships

10 June 09 words: Tris O'Hana
A Dealmaker Records joint featuring Emcee Killa, Karizma, Stig of the Dump, Task Force and The UK Beatbox Championships Midlands heat

Photo by Rachel Williamson (c)

UK Beatbox Championships - Photo by Rachel Williamson

Dealmaker Records put out some great wax and vinyl in Nottingham, but they also know how to put on a live show too! This Friday evening at the Rescue Rooms, featuring the East Midlands round of the UK Beatbox Championships, kicked-off with some live hip-hop from two of their stable regulars.

Emcee Killa started the show with a typically fiery vocal twang and inertia, then Karizma joined him cutting in with some smooth free-flowing rhymes. Technical difficulties with the decks prompted them to deliver an acapella freestyle in which the audience chose their topics - and the boys rose to occasion with rants about wrestling, jelly-tots, porn and bogies.

Then, for those who weren’t quite sure as to what 'beatboxing' really was, a  pre-competition demonstration was offered by one of the judges, Hobbit. Surprisingly, it was one of the most impressive moments of the night, which probably explains his role as on the deciding panel.

Stig of the Dump - photo by Rachel Williamson (c)

Stig of the Dump and Petebox - photo by Rachel Williamson

Our host for the evening was the fat, arrogant, arsehole (his words, not mine) known as Stig of the Dump. Although antagonising, drunk and crude, his underlying ability to get the crowd rowdy and the competitors fired-up was priceless.

Okay, the format starts with four quarter-finals where each beatboxer gets one minute in an 8-Mile-esque face-off. The winner is chosen by a group of judges and often the general reaction of the crowd. Then there are two semi-finals, each getting two minutes, and a grand final each getting four minutes.

Quarter Finals

The first quarter final was Marv-ill vs 24-7. Marv-ill’s thunderous bass had the walls vibrating and was a defining addition in his progression to semis, despite 24-7’s crowd pleasing incorporation of White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army.

Drift vs The Petebox wasn’t as one-sided as I’d anticipated. Petebox is well known in Nottingham and was clearly a crowd favourite. But Drift’s advantage of going first allowed him to rip a Prodigy bassline up, which Petebox is renowned for doing himself, Then he gave him the finger whilst doing so and the crowd lapped it up. Petebox was not to be deterred though. He responded with the same tune and the same finger, but with a superior finesse. Petebox was through.

Photo by Rachel Williamson (c)

UK Beatbox Championships- Photo by Rachel Williamson

Dickstar’s performance against Bass6 was ridiculed from the start. Stig of the Dump couldn’t get over his name and rinsed him thoroughly before and after his minute. It didn’t help that he was pretty crap too; Bass6 comfortably progressed to the next round.

The outcome of Trix vs Big Taj was sadly inevitable as soon as Trix opened his mouth. It was basic and pretty dull. Big Taj strode into the semis with a closing few seconds of Wishing on a Star. The crowd liked it, despite Stig of the Dump’s whining.

Semi Finals

Perhaps Marv-ill set the bar too high for himself after his first performance. His bizarre mix of drum and bass with Doctor Who-like sound affects were instantly rejected by the audience. Petebox was never going to have to do much to win the crowds vote here. He smashed out a bass-full version of Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic and followed up with a cheeky, nostalgic reminiscence of Round the Twist. Done and done.

Petebox at the Rescue Rooms - photo by Rachel Williamson (c)

Petebox in action - photo by Rachel Williamson

Bass6 attempted to follow Petebox down the pop-song path of which the crowd seemed to eat up. Although Stig of the Dump will clearly eat or drink most things in sight, he slammed Bass6’s Spice Girls sample and called him a c**t. If the host is deeming your performance in such a way, you can only hope. Big Taj’s complex technique won it alone. His beats seemed to be panning through the P.A in a whirlwind of noise, spinning the Rescue Room crowd firmly into his grasp. Big Taj vs Petebox final.

The Final

Petebox again delighted the crowd with tunes they could relate to. Not only do the crowd know and love this man, they thrive on the songs and beats his vocal chords produce. In the four minutes Petebox had, we were showered with tunes such as Sweet Like Chocolate and No Woman No Cry, the hollering had to be stopped by Stig of the Dump as his uncontrollable bias towards Big Taj intervened. Big Taj attempted to produce the same technical originality which saw him through the semis, but failed. He was scatty with no apparent thought as to how his tunes were going to interlink and progress.

Task Force at the Rescue Rooms - photo by Rachel Williamson (c)

Task Force wrapped up the night - photo by Rachel Williamson

Even though the winner was obvious to everyone in that room, the judges called an extra round. Big Taj was an improvement, but Petebox yet again prevailed with his well known rendition of Daft Punk's Around the World. He wins the Midlands heat and will compete in the finals at O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in London on Saturday 20 June. If you’re up for a good night of talent and constant banter, get involved and get down.

North London hip-hop legends, Task Force, headlined the show. Think of what an English Cypress Hill would sound like and then imagine they dressed exclusively at a Sports Discount store and you're somewhere on the way to describing these guys. Although the Hackenbush brothers performed with their usual clear cutting vocals and unquestionable energy, the truth is that much of the audience were only there for the beatboxing and many had dispersed before the second Task Force song. This shouldn’t and doesn’t, take away an above average performance. With a heavy Beastie Boys influence, it’s understandable why these lads are so popular in the UK hip-hop scene. Word!

The Midlands heat of the UK Beatbox Championships took place at the Rescue Rooms on Friday 5 June. The Petebox will competer in the final at the 02 Shepherds Bush Empire in London on Saturday 20 June.

Vauxhall UK Beatbox Championships website
Dealmaker Records website
The Petebox website

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