Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Big Tune competition comes to Chicago

With the exception of Timbaland, one could say most music producers are the Rodney Dangerfields of the industry: They don't get any respect. Red Bull Big Tune, a “head-to-head battle of the beats,” might change that for the select group of talented hip-hop producers battling in five different cities before the Top 10 battle it out, tourney-style, in Seattle (they’ll be here July 19 at the Metro). Created in Seattle in 2005 by event promoters Jonathan Moore and Vitamin D, Big Tune is “a platform to showcase the talent of emerging producers.”

The competition pays homage to similar battles in Jamaica known as “clashes.” In Jamaica, sound systems (known as crews in the U.S.) would use their own interpretations of popular rhythms or instrumentals while an MC “toasted” or spat lyrics. “A lot of people have the folklore mythology that hip-hop was born in the Bronx in 1979,” Moore says. “[But] even Cool Herc, who was considered the founding father of hip-hop, migrated from Jamaica. He brought that whole playing in the park, plugging up the speakers, [and] having the biggest system [from Jamaica].” Moore adds that at parties where the dueling sound systems competed, “whichever sound system the people gravitated toward, they were the system that had the champion sound [known as the big tune].” Big Tune operates the same way; the crowd is the ultimate judge, advancing or eliminating competing producers based on their reactions to the beats. – Anthonia Akitunde

Check back on Friday with a post-Big Tune wrap-up, complete with photos of the showdown