Except when in high profile advertising campaigns like last Christmas’ Argos advert (or equally as big, the T-Mobile Welcome Home ad), beatboxing remains still relatively unknown, or at least under represented in most hip hop circles.
After countless years, two double winners including Beardyman and Reeps One, the Vauxhall Beatboxing Championships 2011 hit London again, bringing a rift of returning and new vocal talent.
For some unknown reason this year’s London crowd was a lot different. With the Islington Academy Bar, usually the purgatory for lost rockers who didn’t get in to the heavy metal event next door, or drunk yuppies confused by what’s happening at their regular haunt.
Yet backpackers, Shoreditch haircuts and what sounded like an entourage of Pikey Esquire fans turned up in droves to watch. Maybe the word is finally getting out beyond the beatboxing community?
Video: 2011 Vauxhall UK Beatbox Championship South East Heat (YouTube)
So what was new this year? The final rounds were once again quite predictable, apart from Gracious B, now known as Grace Savage, the only female beatboxer to enter the competition in its short history. Although not champion material just yet her skills were anything but flaky, having the edge on her opponents in several of her battles.
Pikey Esquire shone as usual in most of his rounds doing both covers and freestyling, with the crowd taking his side on more than one occassion. In fact, when Pikey battled Reeps in the final where Reeps improvised, the audience wasn’t happy with the decision to put him through, making the judge’s decision in the final even more notorious…
As the beer began to flow at the bar the atmosphere felt more heated, and the final between Reeps One and Layth was hotly contested.
Both improvised their performances, with even Reeps stepping up and admitting “I don’t know what’s about to happen…”
Nevertheless, the judge’s decisions were final. Reeps One is once again the regional champion, and he’ll join Hobbit and two others in the finals on 11 June at the O2 Academy Islington.
Vauhall UK Beatboxing Championships London results
Beatfox v Pikey Esquire (rematch)
Griff v Layth
Grace Savage (sudden death) v Experimental
Merks v Reeps One
Layth v Grace Savage
Reeps One (sudden death) v Pikey Esquire
Battle for third place
Grace Savage v Pikey Esquire
Reeps One vs Layth