A few weeks back, the good people at Red Bull put me out in Florida for the Red Bull Thre3style National Finals in Orlando. A three day DJ competition featuring 10 finalists (DJ SKU, Four Color Zack, DJ LayZBOY, Mike 2600, DJ Dynamix, DJ Ginsu, DJ KU, Abe the Assasin, DJ Spinser Tracy, DJ Rincon) going head to head with 15 minute sets mixing three different genres of music to see who came through with the best track selection, most creativity, mixing skills, stage presence, and of course crowd reaction. The three nights included special performances and guest judging from Jermaine Dupri, Mick Boogie, and DJ Nu-Mark. As a former DJ myself, I could definitely recognize the skill in the group, though my personal favorite DJ, Spinser Tracy from D.C., didn’t win, another worthy turntablist, Seattle’s Four Color Zack, took home the title (and 3k in his pocket) on the final night and now will be competing in the International Finals in Chicago this September.
The two prior nights leading up to the finale, the semi-quarterfinals, gave you an idea of what kind of talent was on hand and each night was cap’d off by great performances on the decks from DJ Nu-Mark and Mick Boogie, respectively. However, the final night was definitely the highlight, the cream of the crop remained (6 DJs). Nobody was saving any tricks and everyone brought their A-game as they mixed from genre to genre with far less predictable track selection for the finale (with a few of the DJs finding ways to take subliminal shots at eachother via samples in their mixes). The Saturday event took place the packed out venue The Groove at Universal City Walk with celebrity judge Jermaine Dupri looking on. At the end Four Color Zack won over the judges because he truly did own the crowd while coming through with a unique musical mix jumping from latin rhythms, rock, hip-hop, electronic, oldies, and punk with ease, needless to say, he sounded nothing like the other competitors. “I nerded out,” Zack proclaimed. “It’s a give and take relationship with the crowd and to win feels surreal. The road was hard, but to make it to the main stage is something to strive for, it’s indescribable.” You can get an idea of what he’s talking about by checking out his regional qualifier mix from Red Bull Thre3style San Francisco, here. Good Luck to Four Color Zack as he moves on to the finals, find more photos from the weekend here.
The final night was closed out by a murderous D set from Jermaine Dupri. But before he hit the stage, I got a few minutes to chop it up with the So So Def CEO. You can stream that convo below where he talks about his beginnings in the DJ world, early DJ influences, current DJs he respects, go-to songs to put on, and more.
Photos by Carlo Cruz