How do you know there's been a four year gap since the last Disco Mixing Club (DMC) battle? When the valiant effort of a kid from Highlands Ranch is completely eclipsed by the DJ Notch, who breezed through his set with technical ease, the clear champion from the beginning.
While Notch was great and certainly worthy of winning, the reason he was the clear front runner really had just as much to do with the fact that most everyone he was up against, with the exception of a choice few (Skip Ripkin, among others), either had no true concept of what it takes to win a DJ battle of this caliber or simply didn't have the skill to make it an actual battle.
The modest crowd who showed up early at the Walnut Room was kept entertained by the fly styles of Break EFX and the sounds of DJ Lazy Eyez, while the contestants, who were easy to spot, milled about in nervous anticipation.
Well, not all of the contenders were nervous. Fresh Breath Committee's DJ Skip Ripkin looked confident, flanked by a pack of Committee members, while Colorado Springs' Lord Damage seemed focused, and DJ B-Money, a familiar face and first up for battle, appeared cautious.
The show opened up with a performance by Food Chain and a sharp admonishment from the group's Champ Soundkilla Black, who chided the crowd for a lack of enthusiasm. A few sound cues and a dropped microphone later, the crowd warmed up and hip-hop euphoria ensued.
Big Samir and Aja Black of the Reminders followed and nearly walked away with the show before the battle had even begun, raging through a set of quality material that had people almost climbing over each other. The verses in French and uncompromising vocals, combined with the duo's infectious energy, set the tone of the evening.
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Drawing the first slot for the DJ battle, DJ B-Money had the awkward, unenviable distinction of setting the bar and creating inclusion. While his set was solid, the response he received was neglible, beyond a few mutterings from the peanut gallery and some head nods from judges DJs Vajra, Chonz and Teeko.
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The always gregarious Dent, our host for the evening's proceedings, kept things lively with quick and easy rhyme schemes and several wardrobe changes throughout the evening.
Throughout Skip Ripkin's set, there was obvious surprise and awe at the DJs versatility and ability to connect. With six minutes to not only wow the people but the stoic judges, a few DJs came across as rushed, while others would've benefited from displaying a little more urgency. DJ Jabbermouth of Highlands Ranch came on strong and brave, despite the heckling he endured during his introduction, which continued through his East Coast hip-hop set and reached almost tomato throwing levels by the end of his routine.
Other folks of note were DJ Cause and Effect and DJ Silver, both of whom wowed with good material and respectable skill. Lord Damage, offered little interaction but put a diverse selection on display. When DJ Notch stepped to the tables, many beat architects in the crowd huddled together in a corner in conspiratorial whispers and head nods. As he began, there was visibly relieved "this is how it should be done" reaction from all around. Ending with Gangstarr didn't hurt either, shifting the music knowledge paradigm.
Staged closest to the judges, he not only elicited the loudest audience response but visible liking from the three. Incorporating all the elements of participation, technical skill, and versatility, Notch went unquestioned. DJ Notch's next battle for U.S. supremacy will take place in New York City in August.