The Flavor Battle
Tuesday, January 11
Better Than: A Chik-fil-A DJ battle.
We’re secretly reveling in the recent emergence of DJs as hip purveyors all that is “cool.” So when we heard that McDonalds and Complex were throwing a “Flavor Battle” — hosted by none other than Fabolous — we had to go.
First of all, it’s pretty hilarious to see three grown men DJ out of oversized hamburger boxes. Gigantic Big Mac, Double Quarter Pounder, and Angus Beef cutouts served as booths for the night’s three contestants, who’d earned the honor by being chosen from DJs from all over the country through a series of auditions and online votes. Austin’s Hella Yella repped the West, Cleveland’s DJ Steph Floss held it down for the Central region, and New York’s own JayCeeOh stepped up for the East.
After a quick introduction from the night’s judges (DJ Irie, Spinderella, and Rich Nice) and Fabolous’ shout-out to Sway (the night’s “Twitter host”), the quickly mixed, three-round battle begun. Jay kicked off the night strong, playing to his hometown bias with a scratch-heavy set of “Black and Yellow” (the guy’s from Pittsburgh originally), “Swagger Like Us,” “Where Brooklyn At,” and an echoing of “Brooklyn Go Hard.” Hella Yella followed with a tamer, trick-infused hip-hop set featuring “Juicy,” “I Get Money,” and “It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop,” ending the routine by jacking DJ Scratch’s “Pick It Up” routine. (Also, we heard your record skip!) Steph Floss brought Round 1 to a close by playing his entire set with only one hand. Naturally, Kanye’s “So Appalled” (and a loop of “One hand in the air if you really don’t care”) opened and closed the set, with a run of “I Get Money” (yes, again), “It’s All About the Benjamins,” and a quick scratch routine factored in as well. Can you feel our bias yet?
The scoring is what kept the night interesting, as the judges seemed to be watching a different show from the rest of us. After Round 1, Jayceeoh ranked third, with Hella Yella and Steph Floss neck in neck. “Well, that’s just ridiculous!” mumbled a girl by the bar. “I agree. Jayceeoh was definitely the best,” responded Twitter-host Sway. Things got pretty ugly around then, as the event’s Twitter feed was swamped with disgruntled Tweets from those in the venue (and those watching at home). Search #flavorbattle for the worst of them.
On to Round 2. The noticeably infuriated JayCeeOh started the night off by asking Spinderella and DJ Irie to come up to the turntables and watch him: “I want you to really see what I’m doing. Thanks!” (Testy!) While we couldn’t see his turntables from the floor, we did take note of the DJ’s swag. He ran through “No Hands,” scratched a sample of “DJ turn me up” into “All the Way Turnt Up” with one hand behind his back, and threw one hand in the air (while mean-mugging the crowd) for a triumphant ending of “All I Do Is Win.” As far as we were concerned, the battle was over then. Hella Yella followed, though, with more tricks. His back was to the turntable while he scratched over “Go DJ,” he ducked below the decks during “How Low Can You Go,” and pulled his shirt over his head for “Eyes Closed.” Steph Floss rounded out the set with Drake’s “Bollywood Freestyle” (the bit about the McDonald’s drive-thru), “Pon Di Floor” (yes, really), a Scottie B remix of “Creator,” “Don’t Stop Believing,” and “6’7.” Hey, at least things had started to get interesting!
By the third round, the crowd had gotten riled up, and the judges had started to waver. Even Fabolous started to dish out advice: “Listen, Jay the hometown favorite, so the rest of y’all are going to have to step it up.” Jay threw down a crazy club set (as in Baltimore club, with a hint of dubstep wobble and other relatively underground dance jams), Hella Yella pushed through with yet another yawn-fest scratch routine, and Steph Floss closed out with a crowd-friendly hip-hop montage of “BMF,” “No Hands,” and so on, though by this time, it was clear who the winner would be: JayCeeOh took home the bragging rights, along with a $10,000 prize. Let’s hope that’s not in gift-card form.
Critical Bias: You realize that we live in New York, right?
Overheard: “I’m lovin’ it!”
Random Notebook Dump: Fabolous was wearing a sweater with two large ducks on it. Marry me!