Disclaimer: read the article before you make an outrage post. It’s positive. I swear.
Am I right? It’s a tough battle! In the past 10 years, the competitive DJ and production community have been noticeably taking bigger steps to advance their productions. Major companies like Red Bull, Technics, and Adidas have taken noticeable steps to grab a bigger market share of a community that has grown globally. The Goldie Awards first came to fruition 3 years ago, and as a retired battle DJ, I still find myself trying to figure out how to win this battle. But after 3 years of watching this battle and being in the crowd, I think I’ve figured it out... So hear me out. For this article, I’m only going to focus on the DJ side, because that’s where Battle Ave’s demographics lie. The production battle circuit is something Battle Ave is fairly new to so rather than cause outrage with ignorance, I’d prefer to stay in my lane.
The traditional guidelines to winning a DJ battle are never written in stone. For example, the world renown DMC Battle first began as a pure mixing battle. However, when DJ Cheese introduced scratching to his set in 1986 and won, it forever changed guidelines to DMC and gave us a lineage of legendary technical Champions. (wikipedia) As a retired battle DJ, I always try to guess the winners of any battle that I watch. I like to see complexity and knowledge from the judging panel. I believe I’ve attended, coordinated, and witnessed enough battles to have a personal opinion on the outcome. When it comes to the term “DJ Battles”, there’s a certain rapport and format that most traditional DJ battlers (turntabilists primarily) are conditioned to follow. The DJ must perform a perfectly executed set of technicality, musicality, and creativity. My honest picks were: 1. Rena 2. ADMC / Brandan Duke The DJ I hate to admit it, but DJ Livia’s Dad even predicted that and I agreed, before he got booted from the chatroom by Serato.
Rena is one of the best battle DJs in the world and isn’t even old enough to buy a beer. I’ve traveled with Rena to Abu Dhabi and admired his humbleness, raw talent, and the fact that he’s still a kid at heart.
To my surprise, Rena didn’t place. Which in actuality, was expected because despite Rena’s flawless performance there is one category that has finally defined itself this year. It’s a category that most battles try to avoid including because it’s hard to incorporate. But the Goldie Awards have perfected it thanks to their judging panel.
That category is: “Crowd Response”.
The crowd at The Goldie Awards is extremely important. Like any normal club or big stage or performance DJ situation, if you’re not preparing for the crowd, you’re preparing to fail. Fools Gold, A-Trak’s brand, has done an amazing job of building a young, enthusiastic community that continues to follow his journey. A Trak’s following has a steady balance of purists, influencers, #realdjs and regular level-headed fans, like myself. (Insert sarcasm)
The judges panel can cause caution because they aren’t all traditional battle judges. Armand Helden is a successful, big stage festival DJ and producer; Just Blaze is a reputable producer and DJ, but does not have a deep history in battling; and with only one known turntablist on the panel (DJ Craze), pure turntablism votes are outnumbered. However, despite what we consider “flaws”, all of the judges are very influential DJs who have validity in their respective fields and know how to - control a crowd. Maybe that’s the secret ingredient to the sauce? Could it be that the way to win Goldies isn’t based on what we knew as Champion material but is based on a collective understanding of “real DJing”? Although I did pick Rena purely based on what I was used to and his wow factor, ADMC’s set was actually one of my favorites. My fiancé, who has zero interest in battling, chose ADMC because she loved how it wasn’t, “a bunch of wicky-wicky-wicky.” In most cases, I would take this type of response as ignorance and un-educated opinion, but The Goldie Awards has done an amazing job of bringing in a huge crowd that truthfully, includes a good percentage of viewers that probably don’t even know what year A -Trak won his first DMC World Title..ahem..1997.
ADMC’s dissing structure and selection was well planned. He’s always had great juggling and scratching skills, but he really caught the crowd with style and finesse in his opening set. That Austin Powers diss to Brandan was very simple, but enough of a gut punch to effect the crowd. In his head-to-head rounds he had a really tough match up with Australia’s Beast Mode. Beast Mode is a seasoned battle DJ and his technicality was stellar. But, ADMC’s selection of music seemed to edge him. The crowd had familiarity and in essence, so did majority of the judging panel.
So next year, if you’re considering preparing a set for this battle, remember that your ability to be a normal DJ and understand your environment is highly considered, but is an unwritten rule. Selection, adaptability, and personality should be considered and as A-Trak says, to win the Goldie Awards, “DJs must have that intangible quality.”