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Red Bull Thre3Style US Finals @ Union Transfer.

August 16, 2016


Text and video by Donte Kirby. Images by Dave Rosenblum.

Last Thursday night, at Union Transfer, six turntablists mixed, scratched and spun with all they had for 15 minutes each to determine the United States champion in the Thre3Style competition, Red Bull’s search for the world’s best DJ.

The legendary DJ Jazzy Jeffrenowned turntable champion Skratch Bastid and 2015’s world Thre3Style winner DJ Byte served as judges for the night, critiquing contestants on versatility, originality, technicality and stage presence.

To see this many world-class DJs in one night, most people have to travel to a major festival like EDC and even then, the music doesn’t always skirt as many genres per DJ as Thre3Style prides itself on. To have Journey mixed with Jay-Z melded into Don Omar is a transformative experience for the hips. With DJ Royale and Matthew Law warming up the crowd, along with the judges hitting the decks after the competition, the audience would be shepherded on a musical journey by 11 different DJs.

Atlanta’s DJ Jaycee opened the competition and delivered a mesmerizing scratching finale. Chicago’s Boi Jeanius performed next and delivered a charismatic set highlighting his Chi-town roots and paying homage to DJ Timbuck2, who passed last year after a battle with cancer. In the third slot, Las Vegas representer DJ Ease’s set had the crowd knucking and bucking one minute and frozen in awe at his mixing the next. Minneapolis native DJ Mike 2600 dazzled with the beat machine and Guam’s (by way of Seattle) DJ Supagi sonically controlled the crowd with his song selection and beat creation.

But it proved to be a night of vindication for longtime Thre3style competitor, DJ Trayze, who was and the last to take the stage. Performing a set he had worked on for six months, he was he was crowned the champion and will serve as the North American representative for the Thre3Style World Finals in Chile this December.

As the other competitors threw shots at each other during their sets, Trayze was bulletproof. When Boi Jeanius played the snippet from “Half Baked” where Scarface quits his job and flipped off all the other DJs, Trayze was cool. When Supagi showcased his bravado with a mix involving the competitor’s drops and MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This,” he was quick to add, “Trayze, you can touch this.” The good natured shots and excitement of battle culminated in hugs all around when Trayze received the title as United States’ 2016 Thre3Style Champion. Boi Jeanius took second place and jaycee came in third.

But the night was not over.

After the competition, DJ Byte showed his mix mastery and why he was crowned 2015 Thre3Style champion with a set that often had the night’s competitors lined up and on the side of the stage amazed. Towards the end of Byte’s set, his turntables had some issues but like a professional, he soldiered through until it was time to take a bow. DJ Jazzy Jeff and Skratch Bastid performed simultaneously on two sets of turntables, with a back and forth that showcased their chemistry and abilities. Even a few legendary DJs like Z-Trip took a turn or two on the tables before the clock struck 2 a.m.

By the end of the night, those who walked out of Union Transfer’s doors couldn’t say they hadn’t been treated to six hours of genre bending mixing, scratching and spinning.

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