They came from all across the country, each one thinking they had what it took to win over a crowd of beat loving fans in the city that birthed hip-hop. But at the Red Bull Big Tune Championship beat battle, which took place this past Wednesday (Dec. 3rd), at New York’s Highline Ballroom, 17-year old C-Sick, a lanky kid who in the spirit of what some might call “real” hip-hop, slugged through the competition without ever taking off his backpack.
“It takes hard work and I think I put everything in to it,” said the Chicago native, after being announced the winner. “I think we’re all talented. We all got different styles”
Sick won the competition by besting Toronto’s Frank Dukes in the final round. Dukes had the crowd bopping to his sample-heavy tracks, but C-Sick’s beats seemed to sounded bigger and more vibrant. After three beats a piece from each finalist, the crowd could not decide on a winner, and chants of “one more round” lead to a fourth track being played from each. It was then that Sick unleashed a track that switched from an almost-80s style to hardcore mid-beat, with little vocal samples sprinkled in. Frank came back with a chopped vocal sampled joint, but wasn’t enough to overtake the Chi-town kid, who had finally won over the crowd’s full support.
The event was the culmination of Red Bull’s Big Tune competition, which has been hitting cities across the country doing regional beat battles, selecting winners from each city to compete in the finals. The ’08 class included Illmind and Ritz from Philadelphia, Marc Garvey and Hitmakers from Oakland, Sound Mob and EQ from Houston, 14kt and Frank Duke from Toronto, C-Sick and Rob Bates from Chicago, Brainstorm and Rising Son from Seattle, Algorythm and Best Kept Secret from Washington, D.C., and J.Bizness and Diaba$ from Los Angeles.
Other highlights of the night included a performance from Ghostface, who ripped through Wu classics like “Criminology,” and “C.R.E.A.M.,” among others. The Digable Planets also performed, treating the crowd to the lounge rap act they helped pioneer in the early 90s. And Alchemist was the producer guest of the night. He got on the wheels of steel and ran through a set of at least twenty classic instrumentals he produced, including The Lox “We Gonna Make It,” Ghostface’s “The Forest,” Capone-N-Noreaga’s “Bang Bang,” and Prodigy’s “Keep It Thoro.”
Notables in the crowd included Sha Money XL, XXL’s own EIC Datwon Thomas, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, among others.
Photos courtesy of Red Bull