Tonight marks the sixth edition of Vitamin D, J. Moore, DV One and Jake One's Big Tune producer battle, and its fourth go-'round with Red Bull support. It's a free event if you RSVP, and any donations go to the Boys and Girls Club. I got a chance to catch up with Vita and DV One the other day, and they filled me in on the methods, showmanship, and "politics" of Big Tune.
On The Format: Whittled down from somewhere between 90-150 applicants, the 12 contestants go into a head-to-head bracket. Of those 12, the three winners (and one wildcard) compete in another round, followed by a final to determine the winner. Each round consists of two alternating minute-long and sample-free instrumentals from the two competing producers, and after all is said and done the victors are chosen by crowd response. Celebrity judges have no place at Big Tune.
On The Winner: The national champion wins studio time with an A-list emcee at Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, Calif. Last year's victor Frank Dukes (Detroit) worked with Ghostface Killah, 2008 champ C-Sick (Chicago) chose Nas and our very own Brainstorm worked with Young Buck after winning in 2007.
On The Show: The beats are (obviously) the most important part of the battle, but many producers take a more hands-on approach with the entertainment and dance to pump up the crowd. "This cat last year in Denver, he had one of those long down-South drumrolls and he Hammer Dance typewriter-ed across the stage and was bopping the whole time--and when he got to the other side, he just pointed at the other guy," said Vita. "But a dude fell off the stage that same show. It's definitely theatrical."
On The Politics: After some drama cropped up on local forum 206Proof, Vita and DV One were quick to dismiss any claims of favoritism. "We don't look at the names, just click on the mp3," said Vita. "There's no politics involved," DV One added. "Nah, there's politics," said Vita. "The only politics are that you actually gotta be dope."
On The Special Guests: Each regional Big Tune battle also sports some big-time producers who make their own appearances; this year we get DJ Toomp (T.I.'s "What You Know" and Kanye West's "Can't Tell Me Nothing") and Nottz, who's worked with the likes of Snoop Dogg and G-Unit.
On The Contestants: For 2010, there's a crop of 10 challengers plus the two finalists from last year (Marcus D and KD Cutz). Those ten are Nphared, Trox, Blaise, Tryfe, 6 Fingers, Hit Man, Mel and D, Rising Son, KD Cutz, Marcus D, Illoquint and Dave Notti.