PHILADELPHIA — The stage was set on Feb. 7, 2013, for the 2013 Red Bull “Thre3style” Eastern Regional Finals. Five DJs, who each won competitions in their respective cities, battled at Voyeur Nightclub to see who could move legendary DJs Jazzy Jeff, A-Trak, and Z-Trip, in order to secure their place to at the National Championships in Los Angeles.
Hosted by Afrobeat pioneer and musical enthusiast Rich Medina, the event brought out a diverse blend of music lovers and party-goers, as well as the “who’s who” of the DJ community, including Philadelphia’s legendary DJ Cash Money. With Red Bull energy fueling the crowd’s momentum and an opening set from Philly’s DJ Suga Shay, the crowd buzzed with anticipation to see who would make it out on top.
The Voyeur audience was treated to an eclectic mix of styles from contestants DJ Petey C of Pittsburgh, DJ Zeke who represented New York City, DJ Trayze hailing from Washington, D.C., DJ LayZeeBoy of Boston, and hometown favorite and Philly native DJ Phsh. Each brought their own set of sounds and skills to battle for the “2013 Eastern Regional Champion” title.
The night’s judges were all in agreement on the one attribute would separate the night’s winner from the rest of the competition: versatility. Each participant was required to play at least three different genres of music during his 15-minute set.
“I want to see who’s going to go off the beaten path,” said Z-Trip, the genre bending “mash-up” pioneer and world famous turntablist. “Who’s going to be the DJ to play not just hip hop, or electro music, but who’s gonna play some death metal and country? Whoever’s the one who’s not going to be afraid to jump off the cliff musically is going to be the winner tonight.”
Fools Gold Records head A-Trak, who made history as the youngest and first Canadian winner of the prestigious DMC World DJ Championships, noted eclecticism in his own work. “I try to integrate [genres of music],” he said. “ i think the sounds can mesh well. They don’t have to. I’m happy to hear them separately, but I like to hear music with an open mind and cross-pollinate.”
Each DJ showed their regional influences during their sets, though by the end of the night it would be the hometown hero DJ Phsh bringing the title back to Broad Street. When asked on how it felt to win an event of this magnitude in front of his home crowd, the Ill-Vibe Collective member stated simply, “I feel damn good. To win this in front of my extended family tonight is something I’ll never forget. I’ve been DJing since I was 14 years old, working in Armand’s Records. Philly has made me the DJ and man that I am.”
On a night that focused on the DJ, many reflected the artform’s ascension in popular culture and role in their own lives. “Music is my love,” said Philadelphia’s DJ Jazzy Jeff. “It isn’t what I do; It’s who I am. And in order to be successful [as a DJ], you have to do it for nothing else but for the love of the game.”
“DJing was very pure and that's when the word ‘turntablism’ was popularized. That's when people started talking about turntables as a music instrument,” A-Track reflected. “Fast forward now [...] and it's featured in major magazines. DJs are being featured at the same level as everybody else.”
The audience went home on a musical high with Jazzy Jeff performing a 30-minute set that brought the house down. While this chapter of the Thre3style competition has been brought to a close, the journey continues for the next batch of regional championships, with the next stop being in Chicago on February 21st, followed by Miami on the 22nd, Dallas on the 23rd, and Seattle on the 25th. After the regionals are concluded, it’s all about the road to Los Angeles on April 5th to find out who’s going to be the 2013 Red Bull Thre3style National Champion.
For more information about the 2013 Red Bull Thre3style Tournament, please visit the website at www.RedBullThre3style.com.