Battle of the Beat Makers (BBM) initially launched to meet a need specifically for Toronto producers; to provide them with a platform for exposure. Some of the biggest music producers of the past decade can be traced back to these formative years, including some of the producers responsible for composing some of pop star Drake’s biggest hit records. In fact, Drake made his debut performance as a rapper at Battle of the Beat Makers on March 25, 2006, according to him.
Because we were starting from the ground up, the event could only really engage the local community. Guest judges were all largely Toronto based artists, DJ’s, influencers and others in the industry. The only international guest judge was DJ Allah Mathematics from the legendary Wu-Tang Clan. The first DJ was DJ Tab alongside first host, Aristo (local rapper) and Bozack Morris (party rocker turned producer).
There were six total battles to start. The first four battles consisted of three different categories: Party, Smooth, and Grimy. Producers registered to compete in a particular style of production. Party for those who made music for the clubs. Smooth for those who favored a melodic, lounge type of music. Lastly, Grimy for those who made dark, underground, neck snapping music. The latter two battles were in the format of a 32-producer battle royale tournament; no categories, anything goes. We ran with this model from 2007 up until 2020. Those few battles created a snowball effect of success stories.
A few notable names include Just Shine, Paul Castro, Junia-T, Boi-1da, T-Minus, Big Pops, Nineteen85, Gigz, Ric Notes (Ouici), Mista Magic, MegaMan, Arthur McArthur, Pro Logic, Blank, Y Not, Neenyo, Mac, JazzFeezy, Smokey as well as Frank Dukes who was scheduled to battle.
The winner of the battles received cash, software equipment, Urbanology magazine coverage and local bragging rights as well as courses in a local community college to learn about the business side of the music industry.
Because this was before the big social media surge, BBM relied on flyers, posters, word-of-mouth, and college radio. All online presence was from Myspace, Friendster and message boards from Canadian brand HipHopCanada.com. Hype quickly spread and paved the way for the online success we have today.