Audissey wins Mai Tai battle
POSTED: Thursday, January 07, 2010
IT WAS a murderers' row of local DJs at Ala Moana Center's Mai Tai Bar last weekend.
Last Sunday's final round of the second annual "Hot Island DJs Spin-Off" featured three competitors who are well known within the local club community, while a fourth established himself as a worthy opponent who will certainly enjoy more work in the months ahead. I was lucky enough to be asked to judge the finals alongside DJ G-Spot and Anheuser-Busch Sales of Hawaii marketing director James Baloaloa.
After four weeks of competition in December, a field of nearly 20 entrants was whittled down to leave DJs Audissey, Bozu, Flip and Jahson the 45 Revolver to duke it out for a shot at $1,000 cash and a mix CD deal with Flip the Bird Entertainment. Event organizer Alan Arato also confirmed that the winner will enjoy more bookings at the Mai Tai Bar throughout 2010.
For some reason, returning champion DJ Flip was forced to go first—what, no consideration for the fact that he won the whole thing in 2009?—and subsequently suffered from a slight case of nerves and a sketchy mixer.
He did, however, get the crowd pumped with his "Rocky" theme music and Manny Pacquiao-like victory lap around the bar at the start of his set, while special guest MC Big Mox blew up the spot when he jumped on the microphone for a verse over the beat from Pharoahe Monch's "Simon Says." I was also impressed with the sheer number of family members Flip brought to support him.
Japan native DJ Bozu was up next, fresh off a flight from the Land of the Rising Sun, according to Hot 93.9's DJ Maleko, who was hosting the final round of competition with help from DJ Quiksilva. While clearly the most unknown of the finalists, his mixing ability and music selection impressed both this columnist and a number of others in attendance. Bozu probably knew he didn't stand a chance, but he gave it his all anyway. I can respect that.
DJ Audissey followed Bozu's set with what could be compared to a perfect game in baseball. From using the timeless theme music from Consolidated Theatres to start his set to including a crazy mash-up of Miley Cyrus and Cameo, he was on point and firing on all cylinders for the entirety of his time onstage. And as he did last year, Audissey also incorporated his singing ability into his set, finishing up with a cover of Musiq Soulchild's "Just Friends" to squeals of delight from the ladies in attendance.
Reggae heavyweight Jahson the 45 Revolver was the final DJ to perform, and he definitely saved some of the night's best mixing for last. He stayed true to his roots, bringing nothing but vinyl to the Mai Tai Bar—no Serato or MacBook setup with this guy. Starting off with a mix of dancehall and hip-hop, Jahson schooled the crowd with his music picks and used his battle DJ skills to take good-natured shots at his fellow finalists.
In terms of creativity and music selection, he was perfect. But in this particular competition, there were more criteria for the judges to consider.
Along with creativity and music selection, entrants were also evaluated on mixing ability, showmanship and crowd response. Some local DJs might argue that each category isn't equally important in a club situation, but for the sake of this particular contest, it was.
And in the end, I think that's what made DJ Audissey the judges' unanimous choice as the winner—even after it was determined that he and Jahson ended up tied following the final round. In my mind, Audissey was the more well-rounded of the two and went above and beyond to score points in all of the categories he was being judged on.
"It's still surreal to me," he said on Monday. "I pretty much woke up (Sunday) and practiced all day. I was even late to Mai Tai's because I was practicing!"
Even with the win, Audissey knows there are a number of other local DJs who could have easily made it to the finals like him—if they had only entered the competition in the first place.
"Hawaii has some of the best DJs in the world, and we're all great in our own right," he said. "But I'm really disappointed a lot of other cats didn't enter.
"I really appreciate what this contest offers and what it's about. There's never really been a venue for club DJs in Hawaii to showcase their talents.
"It was tough (on Sunday), and I knew everybody was gonna bring it. Me and Flip go way back, and I knew he was going to do his thing. And, of course, 45 is a good friend of mine, as well."
Audissey already spins at the Mai Tai Bar twice a month, but said he hopes the win will result in additional gigs. He's also working on wrapping up the recording of his solo debut album, with plans to release it digitally before leaving to tour California, Arizona and Nevada in April.
"It shouldn't be too long to finish," he said. "If that goes really well, I'm pretty much gonna move to Vegas towards the end of the year."