Published May 10, 2015Following heated regional battles in Vancouver and Halifax, six of the nation's top DJs, along with last year's reigning champ, C-Sik (Calgary), descended on Winnipeg for Red Bull's Thre3style Canadian Finals at the opulent Metropolitan Entertainment Centre.
After two days of laid-back events that included an all-45s jam session with Toronto's Skratch Bastid, Vancouver's Flipout and Winnipeg's Co-op and Hunnicutt, workshops for youth, a stirring performance by Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest and a bass-crunching opening set on Saturday night (May 9) from Thugli (a.k.a. Pat Drastik & Tom Wrecks), the stage was set for the all-out battle for Canadian DJ supremacy and a trip to represent the maple leaf at the Thre3Style World Finals this September in Japan.
Pulling the short straw and having to go first is never the position you want to be in, but Sudbury's Trapment didn't let his nerves get to him or the fact the crowd was still getting loosened up take away from his set. Right out of the gate, he came straight at the other DJs with the first batch of disses for the night, before dropping Queen's sports anthem "We Will Rock You" and moving into a high-energy set that included "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" cut up into C&C Music Factory's "Everybody Dance Now" and tracks like Ginuwine's "Pony" and DJ Snake and Lil' Jon's ubiquitous "Turn Down for What," along with former Winnipegger Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" and Celine Dion's "I Will Always Love You" to end his performance.
Halifax's OKAY TK took a more laid-back approach, playing a smooth-jazz opening before genre-jumping between some classic breaks and well thought out samples and enticing the crowd with a slick segment using Beastie Boy's classic "Intergalactic" for maximum impact. Finishing off with cuts like "Rapper's Delight" and "Hip Hop Hooray," OKAY TK had all the right ingredients, but it felt like he came up short.
From the nation's capital, DJ Acro wasted no time during his 15-minute performance, setting the pace early on with a series of rapid-fire rhythms before a quick tempo shift into Bob Marley's "Everything's Gonna Be Alright." The high point of Acro's set was an on-the-fly remix of Green Day's "Basket Case" and a section that included TLC's "No Scrubs." Unfortunately, the second half of his set wasn't as cleanly executed.
Bringing his experience from Shambhala, Golden, BC's Wakcutt had the most unique sound of the night, channelling a bass-heavy West Coast vibe that had the room bouncing. Manipulating the vibe in the room with some drum & bass and speaker-shaking drops, Wakcutt kept the energy at the Met at its peak throughout his set.
After placing first in the Western eliminations, expectations were high for Vancouver's Nick Bike. After dropping some funky breaks, Bike was heavy on the scratching early in his set before shifting into more bass-fuelled jams and tracks by Nas, Missy Elliott and Winnipeg's the Guess Who.
The closest thing to a hometown favourite, Saskatoon's Charly Hustle not only had the good fortune to go later in the group, but he also had the hearts of the crowd as he took the stage at the Met. Known for his deep record crates, Hustle worked through some classic breaks before his genre-bending set headed into a clever section that worked Afrika Bambaataa into Prince before getting into more contemporary club sounds. Hustle never stuck to one groove very long, instead delivering a torrent of tracks that included everything from "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" to "Turn Down For What" to "Sweet Home Alabama."
With the final set of the official competition before a showcase from Z-Trip and Skratch Bastid ended the night, last year's Canadian champ, Calgary's C-Sik, took over with a series of lighting fast scratches, expertly cut up breaks and rapid finger drumming, showcasing some of the technical skills that helped him win last time around. Slamming through tracks from artists like Daft Punk, Ludacris and Black Sabbath, C-Sik definitely had the crowd's attention throughout his performance, before switching gears and ended on a more dubby vibe that may have lost some of his momentum.
After extended deliberations that pushed the event past the 2 a.m. close, Saskatoon's Charly Hustle was crowned the Canadian champion in an extremely tight competition, while Sudbury's Trapment placed second and 2014's winner, C-Sik, came third.