Grand Beatbox Battle (GBBB) is the second largest international beatbox event after The World Beatbox Championship that occurs every 3 years. GBBB is an annual event that gathers hundreds of beatboxers from all around the globe.
GBBB takes place in a beautiful city of Basel in Switzerland. Since 2010 it is a part of annual music festival called BScene. If we compare the first ever GBBB with the event that took place this year, all of beatbox community could proudly quote Drake and say: “Started from the bottom now we’re here!”
I have been following this event for the last 5 years and I attended the event in 2016 and 2017. This event grows with each year and it seems to get better and better. It is always great to meet the international beatbox family, make new friends, jam, communicate, learn and watch top beatboxers perform and compete. GBBB has 3 categories that beatboxers compete in: Solo, Tag Teams (2v2) and Loop station battles. 16 Solo performers, 9 Tag Teams and 8 Loop station artists were selected to compete. Not many beatboxers get a chance to participate and there is a strict preselection to get an opportunity to perform on GBBB stage. Some beatboxers are selected by the organizers (mostly they are the ones who already proved themselves on GBBB stage before), others earn their way in by winning the online video wildcard competition.
To be honest, despite the strict preselection, some choices are disappointing. This year the biggest disappointment of all GBBB performers for me was Camero. Don’t get me wrong, I am not hating, it’s just an honest opinion. He is a beatboxer with a few tricks up his sleeve and he showed us that during the battle. The ideas behind those tricks were interesting but the fulfillment lacked technique and skills what resulted in a weak performance on stage and judging on that show he had no chance winning a battle against any of the opponents among the selected ones in Loop Station category. Despite that, I cannot even understand how he was selected in the first place. He entered the wildcard competition but his looping video was so basic that any of beatbox underdogs who are familiar with a loop station could do the same thing or better. Also there were much more talented participants such as Mr. Wobbles or Jayton who could easily take Camero’s place in the battle and make a better performance.
On my opinion, to be one of competing artists in GBBB you have to be original, very technical, and creative and have great musicality. It is the fusion of all these elements and hard work that gets you into this competition with a possibility to win. There were no disappointments in other categories. But I must stress that it is not enough to be a good beatbox for this competition, you have to have a signature! Otherwise you will not be noticed even while performing on stage. For example Heartgrey. He is a Chinese Champion and in overall he is a good beatboxer but he has no signature sounds, nothing that would make him stand out among others. For comparison let’s take a look at another beatboxer from China – Zhang Ze who is known for his zipper sounds that make him a proper GBBB competitor with a recognizable signature.
Wildcard competition is a great preselection method but I cannot understand why only 2 out of 3 categories have it. Why there is no wildcard competition for Tag Teams? I can bet that having one would motivate beatboxers to create new Tag Teams and already existing ones would be heard. Who knows, maybe there is a team that we have never heard of and it is worthy to participate in GBBB. Talking about the future of GBBB, it would be a great thing that each competitor would be chosen through the wildcard competition only.
Despite that a few competitors gave weak performances the event and battles were dope! Great place, amazing atmosphere, warm people, skilled beatboxers, highest quality of sound, superb host (Big up Scott Jackson!) and of course outstanding judge panel! There was just a minor setback with the time, it seems the event lasted longer than expected by the organizers. However, we can’t even blame them because it got delayed due to people not coming back from the break in time as everyone was jamming outside, big cyphers, small cyphers, all together, separately – it was quality time with the family – ESH!
Event was great but there are a few things that could be improved in the future by the organizers. First of all, for such big international event – a Facebook event page is a MUST. A lot of people are coming from abroad and it is great to have all information at hand – Facebook is the best platform for that. A Facebook event is practically the same as a digital flyer where all of the information (time, location, and price, etc.) is available for the guests of the event. Unfortunately, there was no event created this year. Do not forget to create one next year!
Another thing that is essential for the growth of the international event is the live stream. There was a live stream, I didn’t see it myself as I participated at the event but I was told by my friends who tried to watch it (they have even set up a projector and a sound system) as they couldn’t make it this year to Basel – they were really disappointed and eventually did not finish watching it. If video quality was bearable, the audio was terrible – nothing could be heard, only some low vibrations and everything else peaked (a mobile phone stream should not be the choice for a stream of such an event where audio quality matters the most). Event is growing and unfortunately not everyone is able to make it to Basel but there are a lot of people who would like to see it live. Organizers need to work it out and try to get an additional camera just for the live stream with direct audio from the mixer. I know it is not easy to do and additional equipment will be needed but there is always a possibility to charge viewers for let’s say 5 or 10 euros for the stream link to collect the funds. And I can bet that there will be plenty of people watching it all over the world. Think about that.
And last thing about the main event at Voltahalle that I could have been avoided was the speech of Chinese community representative. Don’t get me wrong, I love and respect their community but that speech was just ridiculously pointless and time consuming. First of all, he was not ready to speak, he kept repeating himself, he took too long to say the small piece of information he had and it was really annoying to waste everyone’s time and mood. Every community in the world has great unrecognized beatboxers and it does not make the difference if a country has one unrecognized talented beatboxer or twenty. In GBBB China had 3 participants, other communities that came to watch the show did not have anyone to represent them on stage. This is not a competition where you talk your way in, it is a competition where you earn your way in. I think organizers were too friendly and too kind to say no to the representative of China as he came a long way to the event but at least the speach should have been coordinated and they should have checked if he has prepared a fluent and short speech.
This concludes the official two days of Grand Beatbox Battle. But everyone who came to GBBB at least once knows that there will be a lot of action on the third day. It‘s the unofficial part of GBBB – 7toSmoke Battle. It‘s a get together of the worlwide beatbox family and everyone is invited to participate. Unfortunately this year not everyone got a chance as organizers, due to the time limit, capped the number of participants to 80. It‘s always hard to predict how long the 7toSmoke battle will last – it may take 45 minutes or it can extend for 2 or more hours. However, I consider this part of the event to be the most importat for the community and especially all underdogs. To be able to show what you got to those people you look up to as beatboxers is the best motivation. I know that not everyone is great and some routines may even sound similar and be boring but it‘s the act itself that brings the pleasure – to grab the mic and perform to people who understand everything you do and their feedback is the essence of the family, it keeps us – the underdogs – going and trying to get better.
I would suggest the organizers of GBBB to do their best to keep this as tradition and try to make it possible for everyone to participate. You could register everyone until late Saturday evening/Sunday midday, check how many you have and see if you have enough time for everyone. If not – try to book the venue for a couple hours longer or you can change the time of elimination round to 45 seconds, so that everybody could get a chance to share the one thing they all love so much – beatbox. Everyone knows that GBBB All Stars will be competing in the battles and most commonly Alexihno would win again (ESH! 7 to Smoke Champ 3 times in a row! Big up!) as he has the best battle tactics and techniques I have seen so far! So at this point it is the act of participation that matters the most. Try to pull it off for the sake of the community.
This year on the third day all of the beatbox family also got the chance to participate in the shooting of ‘The Esh‘ (I assume it may be the name) video for a rap joint Faya Braz and Eon wrote. As a long life Hip Hop head I really liked it and I can‘t wait for it to come out. I guess we will finally the anthem of the worldwide beatbox community!
To sum it all up – the event was crazy good and it is always sad when the time comes to leave. I will be trying to do my best to get to Basel every year as long as GBBB is alive! Big up for all who came to watch and participate. Maximum respect as Bee Low would say to the organizers Claudio, Madox, Pepouni and all SwissBeatbox – this would not happen and beatbox community would never be where it is now without you! It was also great to see Two H. back on stage killing it, Hiss – you are the future of beatbox, keep it up! Mad Twinz – наконец-то! Finally you got what you deserved! Napom – could not expect less from you bro! SARO – you are something special, came from nowhere and bombed everyone, love your work on the Loop Station, it’s just amazing and words can hardly describe the feelings you bring! And of course much love to one and only BBK who has become the icon not only of Canada beatbox community but of the worldwide family, you are something special you know! And I hope that one day you will have your own reaction camera man during GBBB, you make everything look so much better!
P.S. By the way more videos of GBBB and many more can be found on YouTube channel of SwissBeatbox – check them out!