2014 DMC US Finals Winners: Proof That Prep For Prestigious Battle Starts At Young Age

Posted by Billyjam, August 26, 2014 01:00pm | Post a Comment

2014 DMC US Champions Top 5 (Showcase style: six minutes each DJ)

1st: DJ I-Dee (Fairfax VA)

2nd: DJ Dwells (NYC)

3rd: DJ Ease (Rochester NY)
 International Ease)

4th: DJ Esquire (Brooklyn NY)

5th: Ichy the Killer (San Jose CA)

DJs I-Dee and Dwells - the winner and runner-up respectively in this year's heated 2014 DMC US Finals DJ battle presented by Rane, that took place Saturday night at Webster Hall in New York City - are both examples that battle DJing is something that many get into at an increasingly younger age. They're also proof that the DMC is indeed as it claims to be the "most prestigious" and important competition for DJs out of the many other battles over the years - since it's the DMC that these two (like most DJs) strive towards winning, and that each have meticulously studied videos of past DMC competitions for inspiration in bettering their skills in preparing for battle. "When I first started DJing seventeen years ago, when I was ten, I picked up a whole bunch of DMC tapes," said the new US DMC battle champ DJ I-Dee in his acceptance speech for the title that will take him to the UK in October for the 2014 DMC World Championships. "My goal was accomplished ten years ago when I made the [DMC] US Finals. And everything after that has been a complete bonus," added the Fairfax VA DJ [seen in above pic c/o Arvee Eco Photography who supplied most of the photos for this review - others c/o Christie Z-Pabon of DMC/Tools of War].

Meanwhile young, super-skilled runner up DJ Dwells, who got his first turntables three years ago at age 11 and is now only 14 (he started seriously scratching and beat juggling just before he turned 13 when he was "late twelve" he told me), also learned a lot from closely studying bygone era DMC battles - not on video or DVD but online. "I think YouTube has probably been my biggest influence as far as DJing," he told me the following day at the Battle Ave event at Turntable Lab on East 7th Street noting how he has put in a lot of time closely analyzing DMC battles from over the years. Even how he dissed several of his battle competitors at the beginning of his six minute routine on Saturday was inspired by watching a specific DMC battle routine from two years before he was born. "I was trying to pull a DJ Dummy," he said citing the battle routine by the third place 1998 DMC US Finals contestant - again a DMC video that he had closely studied on YouTube.

By 5pm inside the East Village venue Webster Hall on East 11th Street, an hour before doors opened and almost two hours before the big DJ battle would get underway, most of the thirteen contestants had already assembled for the event that would determine which one of them would travel to the UK in October to represent the USA in the DMC World Championships. Not surprisingly, in the traditionally gendered unbalanced musical field of DJ battling, all competitors were male but they ranged in age and years of DJing experience. Some had only to travel in from the other boroughs while most had travelled from all over the country and, despite the endless hours of tirelessly practicing every little detail of their six minute routines in the months leading up to this battle, each DJ was understandably anxious - even if they all emitted an air of confidence once they got onstage to battle.  Right as the doors opened Mista Sinista of X-Ecutioners fame kicked things off with a fun head-nodding, party rocking set that was mostly funky disco from the early 80's and included "Love Come Down" by Evelyn "Chamnpange" King and "Give Me The Night" by George Benson - both records he would have heard on the radio as a kid growing up. Clearly enjoying Mista Sinista's musical selection was Kool DJ Red Alert who began as a New York City radio DJ back in 1983 when many of these records were still in regular rotation. The hip-hop legend, who had trekked in from the another important hip-hop event up the Bronx that afternoon, would be the host of this DMC battle. 


With mic in one hand and drink in the other Red Alert was clearly enjoying himself as he casually paced the stage and quipped jokes at both the contestants expense and at his own expense too like when he said, "I didn't go to school. I went by the school." His ribbing of each of the DJs was akin to a good-humored roast. He teased the baby-faced, teenaged Dwells for his young age, Ichy the Killer for his taste in cigarettes (Marlboro not Newport) as well as for hailing from the city that Dionne Warwick made famous in song back in the sixties, the Beat Molester for his choice in DJ name, and I-Dee for his lack of footwear on stage ("You got your shoes off! You at the beach?" he joked to loud laughter from the crowd). But he also handled business including having to remind the crowd a few times of the DMC's strict no-filming rule - even leading the audience in a "NO FILMING" back and forth chant to further reinforce the point. Red Alert also mentioned how he (along with Melle Mel and creator of the scratch Grand Wizzard Theodore) was one of the grand marshals in the "first ever hip-hop parade, earlier today in the Bronx," and he made a point of shouting out some of the hip-hop legends in the building including Pebblee Poo - the first female MC in hip-hop  - and legendary DJ Jazzy Jay who hopped up on stage briefly to get acknowledged by the cheering DMC audience.

The first contestant that Red Alert got to introduce was 14 year old Dwells who was so young that, as Red later accurately noted, wasn't even born when most of the records he played were released. Despite the teasing from Red Alert and the inevitable anxiety that the pressure of a DMC US Finals scenario would instill in anyone's psyche, regardless of their age or experience, Dwells remained remarkably calm and confident, and began his set by calling out and dissing some of his competition including I-Dee, Esquire, and Manwell. With his mom and his older brother in the audience Dwells then launched into a most impressive set showcasing a variety of skills that proved that this talented teenaged turntablist had been putting in an awful lot of practice.

While the 2014 DMC US Finals battle didn't feature any body tricks as dramatic as back in the day as say when DJ David from Germany did a complete palm handspin routine of his whole body atop his left turntable in the 1991 DMC World Championship when he beat Qbert for the title (many say unfairly because of gimmick over skill factor), there were a lot of basic body tricks displayed throughout this year's US DMC Finals battle. The aforementioned Dwells did some behind the back and under the leg body tricks, while talented third place contestant International Ease (aka DJ Ease) from Rochester NY opened his six minutes with a behind the back body trick, and Bay Area representative Ichy the Killer from San Jose did an under the leg trick in the set that would place him fifth in the national competition. The South Bay DJ also proudly donned a San Jose Sharks hat and wasn't alone in displaying pride of his hometown. Throughout battle, like a national sports finals, each participant repped their respective cities. Chicago's Ambideckstriks for example sported both a t-shirt and baseball hat reppin' his Illinois city and not only dropped in some classic Chicago house music but held up the Chicago House record for all to clearly see the label.

Hardworking Seattle WA DJ The Beat Molester made it to the US Finals again and for his six minutes put on an entertaining, tight, most unique set that displayed his punk rock roots - dropping in some thrash metal and at a little past half way into his set dropped in the sample "fuck the computer" at which stage he spun the laptop screen around and away from him toward the audience - not using it for the rest of his routine. Meanwhile Los Angeles' DJ Manwell, hotly tipped by many to place in the top three, was apparently experiencing some technical issues that distracted him from his routine but did a great job nonetheless, dropping in lots of battle soundbites and a variety of creatively reworked bits including Al Green's "Love and Happiness" totally speeded up. Other contestants included Petey Complex from Queens NY, 2011 DMC US Supremacy Champ DJ FasciNate from Tilton NH, Miami Florida's El Abstrakto who killed it with rapid hand movements in his dizzying display of turntable wizardry, Denver Colorado's DJ Shake One whose set was heavy on the trap tip, and DJ Spiderman who despite coming all the way from Dallas TX had a large vocal fan base in the audience cheering him on during his impressive set.


In introducing DJ Esquire, who won the US Finals title last year, "I love him like cooked food" quipped Red Alert of the Brooklyn NY DJ who was defending his title and who was also among those tipped to place in the top three if not win again. As it turned out Esquire didn't fare as well as in previous battles - perhaps it was because he utilized too much echo effects that distracted from his real skills - but  the DJ still came in fourth place out of the thirteen highly competent contestants. The winning DJ of the night, Virginia's DJ I-Dee who was on some next level shit with perfect precision at high speeds that he made look effortless, unveiled a highly entertaining six minute set that musically ran the gamut from classic golden era hip-hop to Trap music and, like so many others of the night, included some behind the back tricks. After he and all the other contestants finished their six minute battle routines the audience was treated to amazing showcase sets from Mista Sinista, DJ Precision, and DJ Shiftee. During that time DMC organizers Christie Z-Pabon and Marilyn Alonzo tallied the votes by the judges who included DJ Cheese, DJ Jazzy Joyce, DJ Shiftee, Mista Sinista, DJ Slyce, DJ Spictakular, and this Amoeblogger.

Since Kool DJ Red Alert, who already had had a busy day and still had people to see and places to go, had already left the building Mista Sinista assumed host duties to announce the winner of the battle.  Onstage upon news of winning DJ I-Dee, who a little later would gratefully Tweet "No words can describe this moment. 17 years in the making.  Thank you everyone, thank you," appeared genuinely surprised. Wide-smiling and with his baseball hat worn in his trademark to the side style he told the audience how grateful he was and noted how he is constantly pushing himself to be better at his craft. Then amidst loud chants of "USA, USA" from the celebratory Webster Hall DMC audience he said "I hope I can do everyone proud overseas!"

The 2014 DMC World Championship takes place on October 5th at
The Forum in Kentish Town, London, England.
More info

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Turntablism (44), Dj Fascinate (1), Marilyn Alonzo (1), Hip-hop (217), Skratch Music (13), Christie Z-pabon (2), New York City (101), Mista Sinista (1), Dj Shiftee (7), Dj Precision (9), Dmc World Championships 2014 (1), 2014 Dmc Us Finals (1), Webster Hall (2), Kool Dj Red Alert (2), Dj Spiderman (2), Ichy The Killer (5), Petey Complex (1), Dj Dwells (7), Ambideckstriks (1), Dj Shake One (1), El Abstrakto (1), Dj Ease (1), The Beat Molester (1), International Ease (1), Dj Manwell (1), Dj I-dee (3), Dj Esquire (3), Billy Jam (40), Dj Battle (15)