Mexican BeatBox Battle


Hip-hop is either really innovative nowadays, or returning to its pre-80’s roots. The elements that’ve grounded hip-hop culture for the past three decades  fell out of vogue on the home turf some time ago. Rappers over 40 see more paper by going to Europe than during a Rock the Bells tour. (Dave told me something to that effect.)

In Mexico, where hip-hop culture is trapped in a kind of pre-mainstream fabric that used to house it here in the U.S., the second installment of a beatbox contest will have its second competition. Beat boxing isn’t something you see a lot of rappers doing these days. It’s relegated to a Justin Timberlake gimmick. But for all you 80s babies, you know how often you’d hear someone beat boxing on the subway or on TV:

Beatbox Battle Mexico is the brainchild of Berlin b-boy, beat boxer Dj Mesia. He’s an ambassador for American-style hip-hop, and travels the world doing workshops and competitions. Two years ago, I traveled to the middle of nowhere in the state of Mexico to a bar where Mesia was holding the first beatbox battle. It was an impressive presentation with highly practiced Mexico kids and a grown-ass man here and there, spitting rhythms into a mic and trying to belittle their competitors. I remember a Michael Jackson impersonator with a mean routine out beat-boxed the competitors. Mesia told me that trips to Mexico to meet up with a girlfriend inspired him to start a beat box competition there. While German ties with Mexico are a couple centuries old, it’s interesting to see this transnational effort to keep hip-hop culture alive in the world.

This event is seriously in the middle of nowhere in the state of Mexico. Good for the local kids and a hallmark of hip-hop’s travelling powers, but hard as heck to find if you’re unfamiliar with travelling outside of Mexico City. Luckily, someone made a map for this event.

If you live in Mexico and want to enter the contest, e-mail producer Speedy

My 5 Greatest D.F. Rap Moments: #5 Bocafloja Show at Alicia (When the Lights Went Out)


I found the following piece in my blog drafts, dated July 20, 2009. Why am I waiting almost a year to publish it? Because this is a blog, and sometimes I have to let things marinate.  Besides, I knew I would do some kind of bloggery count down, so I needed some ¨new¨ material.

Being in the crowd at this concert, above, at the Foro Alicia in Colonia Roma, was one of my greatest Mexico City hip-hop moments. Not in my life have I been to a rap show where the lights and power went out (typical reaction to a violent thunder storm in this part of Mexico City), yet most of the crowd stuck around to hear rappers perform over a drum kit, or accapella. The image, if you were there would have been of a dark performing space and people busting out notebooks to participate in impromptu poetry recitals and top-of-the-dome freestyles. Those kids got to shine, in the dark, but kept things moving so the show could go on. The Foro Alicia was brimming with teenagers in that summer heat, while the D.F. rainy season was in full effect.

My good German geologist friends, Maria and Moritz, came out to the show. And they stood around just like everyone else when the lights went out. Check out some of their excellent photos of life in Querétaro, taking rocks very seriously for UNAM.

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