DC: Red Bull Thre3Style at U Street Music Hall

Last Tuesday, May 3, local tastemaker DJ Munch and his team put together a remarkable event at the U Street Music Hall where nine of DC’s (and the East Coast’s) finest DJs competed at the last stop before US nationals on Red Bull’s Thre3Style tour, an international DJ battle judged by professional DJs.

Below, I’ve compiled three categories to sum up the contestants: First Class, Business Class and Economy. That way, if you weren’t there to get your Red Bull wings, you can still fly with the cool kids on The Couch Sessions.

1. First Class (Dope DJs and masters of the craft)

The teenage years, when Queens, NY native DJ GETLIVE–the winner of the East Coast showdown of Red Bull’s national Thre3Style DJ battle, May 3 at the U Street Music Hall–had to sneak into clubs and negotiate his place on the decks are long gone. Today, the self-proclaimed Party Rocker and Crowd Motivator has fine-tuned his hype barometer, allowing him to navigate what’s good for club goers (and for the battle win) like Mom feeding you your favorite meal. Sometimes, it’s easy to give ‘em what they want, and last Tuesday, DJ GETLIVE mastered the crowd pleasers, playing early 90s jams like “Whoomp! (There It Is)” and “Hip Hop Hooray,” the timeless it’s-almost-summertime anthem that still lights up a room. That is, unless you were one of the teenagers (18+ night) obnoxiously booing when they missed the cultural cues. Waiting for Odd Future or Waka Flocka Flame? #DontPlayYourself #GrownFolksBiz

With only 15 minutes to rock three genres (“thre3 style”) and show the judges creativity, mixing, track selection, stage presence and get the audience to participate, DJ GETLIVE earned his stripes (and $1,000 cash prize) with an ill power set heavy on scratching. The only oversight he made was playing the iconic rock jam, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” for the third time all night. I have to give him a #CmonSun on that one for not paying attention to his peers. Still, GETLIVE deserves props for his masterful turntablism, which was beautifully reflected in the shiny, two-tier setup Red Bull brought in for the event, another reminder that the company’s production stays on point. In the words of André 3000,

“Who want some? / Don’t come unprepared / I’ll be there, but when I leave there/ Better be a household name (…)”.

Whereas DJ GETLIVE definitely left his mark on the Diamond District, making Red Bull a household name in DC might have been a little difficult considering there were no complimentary energy drinks flowing. As with other cool stuff like national health care, the green light to visit Cuba, and the least crime in North America, Canadians have all the fun. Apparently, the Thre3Style concept started in a small club there three years ago “with a steady supply of Red Bull.”

Where were DC’s wings, Red Bull?

On the subject of fly, congratulations are in order for DC’s own Jahsonic, who took second place and a $750 cash prize (drinks on Jamil!). Both Jahsonic and DJ GETLIVE will advance to compete in the US national finals in Las Vegas. Although Jahsonic had me at the once ubiquitous go-go classic, “One Leg Up (Put Yo Booty on the Floor),” a smile broke across DJ Adrian Loving’s face at the transition into Jill Scott’s equally funk and percussive, “It’s Love.” Waving his hands in the air, he exclaimed, “Never underestimate the power of a slow jam!”

2. Business Class (Suns that don’t know yet they’re stars)

Stussy was rooting for Jerome Baker III (shout out to the Southwest!), who cleverly busted out the gate with, “Everyone Nose” a.k.a. “All the girls standing in the line for the bathroom!” and quickly transitioned into “All of the Lights.” But, as the set went on, it started to feel long and the crowd–this writer included–got sleepy. #Morecowbellplease

Also worth his weight in vinyl, I want to give big props to the homie DJ 2-Tone Jones for a strong, confident and consistent opening set. It ain’t easy being first, but 2-Tone’s top notch stage presence, fluid transitions between his three genres–Go-go, Hip-Hop and Reggae–got the crowd syced and disturbed the peace properly. Another reason I tsssked DJ GETLIVE is this: not only did 2-Tone play “Teen Spirit” first, but he transitioned from ODB’s “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” into the harsh guitar intro of the intensely powerful track. #Winning

DJ Braun Draper was quick, competent and fresh, subtly throwing in the night’s first Dilla track and playing for the judges more than the crowd. That is to say, Draper was dope, but not all the youngins were feelin’ it enough for him to get away with the “Oochie Wally” opener. DJ Cuzzin B definitely did his thing, too, boldly hitting the decks with Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” and mixing the reggae banger “Tempted to Touch” into James Brown’s “Funky Good Time.” Solid.

3. Economy (Bammas who need practice)

This category is reserved for two DJs who failed in the eyes of the Council On All Things Worth Reporting To Couch Sessions Readers. That DJ Petey C won Pittsburgh’s competition is utterly disconcerting if there is to be any hope for more black and yellow pride. With wack (weak) transitions and zero fluidity, even Red Bull reps giving out freebie towels for the teens to wave around the dance floor couldn’t save the dope Outkast track that got lost in the chaos of Petey’s mix. No bueno.

I hate to add insult to injury because a technical problem with the decks left DJ Price with less than half of his allotted time (7 or so minutes out of 15) and no do-over, but dude’s tasteless remarks about the death of Osama bin Laden and gloatingly enthusiastic “USA! USA!” chants were all wrong for the event. The techno start to his set distinguished him from the rest, but I’m not sure that even with an extra 8 minutes it would have been enough to save face, making him Public Bamma No. 1.

To read more and to follow the competition, visit Red Bull’s website or Twitter feed (#RB3style). Don’t forget to congratulate our local champ, Jahsonic, and cheer him on to a national Sin City victory!