Beat Battles: Tools of War

The DJ battle circuit has it’s tools of the trade pretty well sorted in two turntables and a mixer.  With so many new DJ and MIDI controllers hitting the market though controller DJ’s have been looking for their own place to square off and some “Controller Battles” (like the one promoed above) have started to take root.  The limitations of turntables and vinyl force all kinds of creative outcome but with the addition of a computer/controller setup the possibilities become endless.  In some ways this raises the creative stakes to take a traditional DJ battle set to the next level.  Without a standard “setup” pretty much any piece of technology goes and the more unique and interesting it is to watch the more cred it seems to earn you.

I’m reminded of a pre-existing format where pretty much anything went as well.  A perhaps much nerdier corner of the hip hop battle circuit showcases beatmakers in what’s called a “Beat Battle.”  In a Beat Battle producers swap turns playing their latest (normally hip hop) beats to hype the crowd.  Sometimes the producers are given a sample to work with and a set amount of time time to create a beat in.  All in all, the emphasis is on original production, and while flashy finger work may get the crowds attention, letting your beat ride and getting amped on it can also work (see Will.I.Am acting a fool at Root Down Soundclash above).

What’s important is that the emphasis is on THE BEATS with seemingly less regard for how you make them.  Lap and desktop computers run as free across the tables as MPC’s, synths, and turntables.  It’s a pretty cool way to watch worlds mix as dudes who only rock hardware raise just as much noise as dudes playing off laptops and guys who scratch their samples in by hand.  Combing through of the Beat Battle YouTube threads can also be a great way to see how beat makers are taking their sounds out of the machine and presenting them live to rock the crowd.

See the related products below to get your hands on controllers that can help you rock your own beats live!

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