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RED BULL BEAT BATTLE 2014

by: Mpho Lehlongwa - 5 June 2014

Bucket hats, Dickies trousers, Murachini floral shirts complimented by All-Star Chuck Taylor’s and small 925 carrot gold hooped earrings to finish the pantsula look. Jumping around in sync showing off their impressive footwork like a real panstula would do when their favourite song is playing. On the other side, we had Jordan wearing, skinny jean rocking, with snapbacks and Kendrick Lamar looking hairstyles huddled in small ciphers, those were some of the eclectic subcultures you would have seen when looking around at the people who attended the Red Bull Beat Battle at the Walter Sisulu Square in Soweto.

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Every year Red Bull hosts one of the biggest dance competitions in SA, that showcases some of the hottest dancers the country has to offer, the Beat Battles are also one of the biggest events that take place in Soweto, attracting anyone and everyone who’s in and into the dance scene.

Over the years Red Bull has invested heavily into the dance culture in SA, not only with the Beat Battles but through various other Music initiatives such as the Red Bull Studios and Red Bull Music Academy that have seen world renowned Dj’s like Black Coffee and rising talents such as Transmic Soul come up and develop from.

This year’s battles were nothing short of amazing, crews came from all over the country to battle it out and fight for that Beat Battle title, and trust me it went down! The dance acts that were selected were of top class and very talented.  The show kicked of with Thapelo Mokoena as the MC and DJ Switch as the resident DJ, they did an excellent job at keeping the crowd entertained throughout the night.

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The proceedings started of with crews introducing themselves and showcasing why they were selected as the top 8, a Durban based crew named Warrior Knights came through with a very boring routine which had me yawning half the time. They danced around in their cute little leopard print sweaters and colourful zulu pants you’d see advertised at the Mayi Mayi Market, however, I noticed another crew that actually blew me away, a crew named Panzan Entertainment from Vaal, they came through with a nice set, but what made it go from nice to beautiful was when everyone spotted the one kid who was dancing on crutches because he has one leg, yes, the kid had only one leg but danced with his team mates like he had two. Trust me, some of the dance moves that kid did I wouldn’t even be able to pull off with both my legs.

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As the night progressed and the performances delivering on expectations to some extent, we were privileged to witness Siya Shezi take the stage and throw a few raps while the crews were getting ready backstage. The Siya Shezi performance was not wow at all,  at some point I found myself looking at my empty cup and wondering if this performance was a sign for me to go get a refill. With Shezi’s performance out the way, the crews came back with a bang! It was time for the battles to take place and see which crew would go home with the title. Fire, a dance crew from Thembisa brought the heat back on stage after the Shezi set turned everything luke warm.

They came out looking like the walking dead, pulling faces and limping around like lost zombies in the city, which was a great concept. Pity they did not make it past the battles, just like Warrior Knights didn’t too (no surprises there). Supreme I also felt was weak, I’m still trying to figure out what the buzz around that crew is about. Freeze Frame brought the house down dance move after dance move, these guys totally made sure they did not play around on stage. Everything was in sync, every dance move they pulled out the bag had the crowd going mad. Crews like, the Prophelaz, who were the defending champions also came through with some impressive moves, but weren’t competition enough for Freeze Frame who just kept making it difficult for everyone.

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As for the other crews? I found them uninteresting, borderline boring even, like…*sigh* Look, the B-Boy crew Psyko Souljahz just looked like they were literally practising on stage, their execution was weak and dreadful to watch. Perfect Storm? Please, all I felt was a breeze when they were on stage, another one of those “ when are they gonna get of stage” performances. Regardless Red Bull never disappoints when it comes to good music and entertainment, they blessed everyone with a godly set by Casper Nyovest. All that energy that this young rapper has on stage is beyond amazing, he killed it with some of his new and popular songs, obviously the crowd went buck wild when he performed Doc Shebelza, singing along to the lyrics and never missing a single line of the chorus.

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Speaking of never missing, the crowd became uncontrollable when Casper took a shot at the “Prince Of SA Rap” AKA, nothing major though, all he said was “In my 325 like I’m Doc Shebeleza, tell that to AKA too.”

Getting back to the more exciting moments of the night, Somizi wowed everyone in the crowd too, and no, he didn’t kiss a guy on stage, he offered Panzan Entertainment 20 000 Randela’s from his own pocket! No typo, 20 000 bucks, 20 gorillas, 20K, right there and then, he said that he was inspired by the determination the boys had for taking on such a competition despite their friends disability and poor financial background. It was admirable, but the party had to go on after all the the crying and Drake moments.

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It was down to the top two crews, Prophelaz and Freeze Frame to battle it out in the final, defending champions versus the underdogs. Prophelaz pulled no punches in the finals, but the Freeze Frame set!? INFERNO! After Freeze Frame performed It became very clear who had won, and the crowd made sure it was known too with their uncontrollable shouting and encore, Freeze Frame! Freeze Frame! Freeze Frame! After the crowd made their choice on who should win, the judges did too and we saw Freeze Frame come out victorious.

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The night ended with a legendary performance by Trompies who took forever on stage, their set was just too long, after that DJ Shimza came through and had everyone dancing all night and partying like there was no tomorrow, this was another one of those epic Red Bull nights.

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