The DMC's went down last night at Casselman's, and DJ Vajra won after enduring massive attacks from underling DJs with lesser talents and a gripping face-off with Cysko Rokwel. The two titans clashed with eloquence, but in the end, Vajra emerged victorious.
DJ Lazy Eyez, as he reiterated throughout the night, found the most importance in the event to be the foundation of hip-hop. Pop Master Fabel, Fiendz and others were on hand to help judge b-boy battles taking place throughout the evening. Dance to Live was handed the win amongst a flurry of a wind-milling bodies, whirling hands, arms and legs. The display was quite impressive and certainly more entertaining than the MC battle, which followed.
Many of these guys came with what appeared to be pre-written material and even at that delivered such clumsy rhymes that Life the MC -- one of three judges along side Mane Rok and Panama Soweto -- offered up a more compelling performance with his commentary than any of the guys rapping. In the end, though, Solid Theory took home the money.
The DJs were next, and Lazy Eyez ushered folks to and from the stage as the night's host, giving a glimpse into the multi-tasking skills necessary to be a DJ. The great thing about the DMCs is that it's a competition that allows for DJs of all skill sets to step up to the plate with whatever contribution they come up with.
To that end, it gets a bit tedious when it's clear a young spinner is in way over his head. The highlights, though, were an improved performance from Lord Damage, who was more timid than technical last year, and Bmoney, who moved on to the final rounds with a very entertaining set that incited more than a few fans in the audience.
What seemed to be the long-awaited match up between DJ Vajra and Cysko Rokwel didn't immediately heat up during the preliminaries. Vajra went early in the evening and came out swinging with an "All I Do Is Win" clip and quite easily dominated everyone who went before him and most of the folks who followed.
Cysko got down pretty immediately with a confident set that was full of tricks and techniques. He moved the crowd and seemed to draw more than a few stares of wonder from the judges who were DJ Deus, DJ Chonz and the inimitable Rob Swift.
After a break and performances from the Boombox Saints and Mane Rok, the final rounds got under way. Again, Bmoney was entertaining, creative and energetic; it was his vocal clip that called out Vajra and Cysko specifically that got the crowd most energized.
There were a few more overzealous efforts to incite beef from the two who were considered the ones to compete against, but it wasn't until the two titans took the stage -- Cysko on the left, Vajra on the right -- that it became clear this was about more than wax. The lights were lowered, and it was like the Rumble in the Jungle all over again. Cysko stepped to the decks and absolutely lost his mind with techniques that had those in the DJ contingent pumping their fists and exclaiming enthusiastically that his set was epic.
Cysko showed off, showed out, and came directly for Vajra's head, with some well place inflammatory words scratched and blended to perfection. Every mouth in the building was on the floor, especially after Cysko's six-minute set was over.
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There were more than a few technical difficulties throughout the evening, and as Vajra was setting up during Cysko's set, it was clear he wasn't happy with the provided equipment. Taking a moment to settle on the decks left smoking by Cysko's deejaying wrath, Vajra prepared to get it in.
It was kind of like Muhammad Ali, but different: Not only did Vajra insult Cysko with clipped, profanity-infested drops and turn around to face him while doing so, he postured over the decks throughout his six minutes so hard, the crowd went crazy. The judges were nodding their heads to the beat, in time with each other, and with Vajra's beats.
After an amazing set from DJ Rob Swift, who moved the crowd and kept the party rocking the entire night -- as well as showed pretty much, everyone in the building how it's done, Vajra was declared the winner and will now move on to compete in New York.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I love DJs. I have no idea how they do what they do but it never ceases to amaze me. By the Way: There was a heavy DJ/producer presence in the room. I heard Kid Hum was somewhere around, and Qknox was definitely in attendance, among others. It was like the Joint Chiefs of Staff of hip-hop. Random Detail: In between sets, there was an inexplicable large amount of Nelly being played. I wasn't the only one to notice it. At least four songs.