De La Soul is in da house! Just Blaze and The Alchemist—in da house! The next big hip-hop producer? They could be in da house, too. Red Bull Big Tune comes to Las Vegas tonight with local beatsmiths ready to battle, plus performances by hip-hop masters.
As the eighth and final stop on a tour looking for the next big producer, co-creators Jonathan Moore and Vitamin D are in search for someone with the skills to create the next “big tune.”
“We created a program in 2004 out of Seattle just as an independent project,” says Moore of the showcase for emerging producers. Now a national tour along with an educational awareness component in each city stop (a class in Vegas in conjunction with Dalton Ave. happened Wednesday), previous winners earned the opportunity to work with top hip-hop icons such as Nas and Redman.
“Producers applied to the www.redbullbigtune.com, and there’s a submission page on the site,” explains Moore. “Producers are asked to upload about three beats, a bio, picture and then out of all the submissions that we receive from each market, Vitamin D, our other partner, Jake One, and myself curate every single submission and select 12.”
For the Vegas event at Moon tonight, the entrants were narrowed down to four Vegas producers (Dual Output, Pal Slaps, DJ Finyl and Armstrong), along with seven from LA and one producer from Houston.
As for the finals in each city, crowd participation is the sole deciding factor in determining the winner. As Moore explains, the talented dozen are brought to the stage and introduced to clubgoers, then the battle begins. Vitamin D and Jake One man two stations and alternate playing a producer’s beats for about a minute. Then, they play a second different beat by the same producer, and finally, the crowd decides what music they connected with most and that contestant moves on to the next round. The contest continues until three remain and one producer gets a second chance as a wildcard.
The competition doesn’t end once a producer wows Vegas, however. They’ll go on to the last and final competition of the year in Atlanta on November 3. Last year’s supreme winner C-Sick from Chicago was 17-years old at the time and there are two finalists this year from Seattle that are under 21 (though for Vegas, all competitors have to be over 21 because of the venue).
It could be the chance of a lifetime for catapulting a new producer’s career, not to mention an opportunity to meet De La Soul, who will perform at Moon tonight for the Big Tune event.
“It’s always a pleasure to work with Jon Moore and all his colleagues and friends that put together the event,” says Maseo from De La Soul, who also spun at Ghostbar Wednesday night for the Big Tune pre-party. “I always enjoy those battles. You always get to see some new, up-and-coming talent. The producers are very passionate about where they’re trying to take the future of hip-hop and music in general.”
Maseo admits it isn’t always easy for those trying to break into the industry. “For the new up and coming artists, I have to honestly say it is really, really difficult to make it in this music business today without having to give up literally everything.”
He says events like Big Tune help young producers get their foot in a door that can often seem dead bolted shut. “They really bring that energy from the audience and put their antics and emotion behind what they did to actually get at that other producer—no different than how DJ battles would take place.”
The Red Bull Big Tune event also coordinates nicely with De La Soul’s celebration of the 20th anniversary of their debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising. De La Soul isn’t pausing too long to reflect, though. The group is already working on its next album, which Maseo says is titled You’re Welcome.
As for their performance at Moon tonight? “We’re going to dance around the catalog,” Maseo says. He also says that the group will likely stick around in Vegas an extra day to keep the hip-hop vibe going and check out Z-Trip’s opening night at Rain on Friday.
“Z-Trip’s one of my favorite DJs,” Maseo says. “I think Pos [from De La Soul] is going to actually going to jump on stage and do something with Z-Trip.” But before that at the Big Tune event, De La has a definite plan: “We’ll do what we normally do: Celebrate hip-hop.” Fans should come out and celebrate, too. After all, the person responsible for creating the next Big Tune could be in Vegas tonight, and they’re going to need your applause.