BCG Interviews

[Interview] A-Trak Talks The Goldie Awards And The Inspiration Behind Launching The DJ And Beat Battle Competition

I got a chance to speak with A-Trak about the upcoming Goldie Awards and Fools Gold Day where Jay Electronica will be the headline. He tells me a bit about the background of how the Goldie Awards came about and why he chose to launch the event for the DJ’s and producers. You can purchase tickets to the Goldie Awards here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHX7Ep-0q_A

How did it feel to be able to announce the DJ & Beat Battle” for the Goldie Awards?

This is a big project for me. This is something that is very close to my heart. Not just announcing it but creating this thing, when I started DJ’ing battles were a really big part of the culture. I won the first beat battle that I entered which was the DMC 1987 championships and by winning that it was enough to put my name on the map and get my career started. That’s not really the way battles are perceived anymore. Although, DJ’ing is bigger than ever. That’s the big paradox in the last 10 to 15 years DJ’ing blew up so much. Whether it has been with the explosion of electronic music itself or just the awareness of DJ’s. DJ’s are everywhere but something like this, for the art is hard to find now. So I took it upon myself to create that form because I want to shine the spotlight on skills and talent that deserve the exposure. It’s hard to have an event with DJ’s without including producers and vice versa. So that’s why I decided to have two categories at the Goldie Awards. One that says the “DJ Battle” and one that says “Beat Battle for producers” so we can all move as a unit and team because beat battles is also something that has been making noise recently. We saw Swizz talking about his beat battle with Timberland and we saw Swizz versus Just Blaze. That’s something that people are aware of now. That’s the very concept of having producers go head-and-head it’s exciting to watch. I wanted to put all that under one roof and get as much attention on it as possible.

Do you think this will change how DJ’s try to get exposure?

I Think yeah, that’s the objective with even launching Goldie Awards to give DJ and producers one more avenue to get more exposure. DJ’ing has exploded so much and it’s a lot of people trying to get heard, trying to get on. The question I get asked the most is when I meet DJ’s and producers who are on the grind is how can I get noticed. This is definitely one way to get attention and sort of fast forward the process of the come up. If you win the battle that’s a lot of attention right there. Fools Gold is going to support the winners of those categories and the winner of the beat battle gets a song that comes out on Fools Gold to actually get a single deal with us. So when the DJ battle gets to perform at Fools Gold they get like a big gig in front of 1000’s of people. The fact that this event is the kind of place where stars are born literally, that’s a reason for people to go an watch. Get a ticket it’s $20 until Sept 20th and watch something exciting. Even when you think about it artist like Eminem earned their stripes beating people at battles. That’s how you get respect. I’m 20 years deep in the music game I earned my stripes with battles also. That’s something that stays with you your whole career. So it’s ill to witness that, to be in the crowd and say ‘Yo I was there”. History can be made that way. We always hear the stories of these legendary battles the come up of stars. Like when JAY-Z battled DMX, I was reading the Prodigy book and he talks about when he moved to Queens-bridge they made him battle Nas. DJ’s are as big as rappers and any kind of performer these days. So at this event people are probably going to witness the come up of someone who is going to be huge name for the next couple of years.

What made you choose Dave East As host for this years Goldie Awards?

I think he’s dope. When you think about it the essence of this kind of event and a battle like this is classic and nothing is more hip-hop than a battle. But it has one foot rooted in the future because we’re here to find the next big stars. To me Dave East kind of represents that same kind of bridge with his identity as a Harlem rapper and the kind of music he makes, he’s got a classic New York feel but he’s definitely apart of the new wave too. So symbolically, I think he represents the same bridge that we’re trying to make and on top of that we had him perform at Fools Gold last year and he killed it and I just like that guy he’s a cool dude. So it’s a great thing to have him be apart of it.

Do you guys have the list of who will be competing in the competition yet?

People are still sending in admissions, that’s going to be announced in the next couple weeks and people have up until this Sunday night August 6th that’s the deadline to send in the submissions if you go to goldieawards.com you can follow the instructions and there’s rules and guidelines to apply to be in the battle until Sunday. Then a couple weeks before the event we will announce the actual contestants it’s going to be 6 DJ’s and 6 Producers that we’re picking through the admissions.

The judge panel features Mannie Fresh, Diplo, DJ Craze, Destructo, Mija and The Whooligan how did you choose them for the panel?

The judges was a really big part of the strategy, picking those judges. This is a new kind of event that I’m presenting and I’m trying to put on a battle that doesn’t feel to old school or traditional. I want it to feel like something current/new and also not restricted to any genre, not restricted to any equipment setup whatever. I want to really break the mode of what battles are. So I wanted to pick judges that have that kind of variety in generations and age groups. To show people that they’re going to see some new ish here. So to have that range from Diplo to Just Blaze to Mannie Fresh and upcoming female DJ’s with Mija and then also Craze who is like the greatest battle DJ that there ever was. So to me I think that’s really strong for the beat battle aspect. So I wanted to show that range for the judges panel.

I thought it was really dope you added Mannie Fresh into the judge panel.

I’ve had a good relationship with Mannie for a long time and I think he represents such a pure aspect of producing and DJ’ing. Like everybody respects him.

So with the Fools Gold Day event this year you have Jay Electronica headlining, how dope is that?

I’m ecstatic. I’m so excited and by the way there’s so many hip-hop festivals this year and I feel like all of them are great and I expect all of them. But, to get Jay Electronica to headline that, makes our event standout. Even if you’ve been to three other festivals in the New York region you should still come check us out to see Jay Electronica.  At the same time you can see PNB Rock who’s just killing it right now on the radio and some good DJ performances like Flosstradamus who always kills with the craziest energy. I’m going to go up there and kill it and I’m going to bring out some surprise guest so you know the whole package. Jay Electronica having his name on top of the list I’m very excited about that. I think that makes us standout.

Other artist you have on the Fools Gold lineup include Remy Banks, PNB Rock, Flosstradamus, Leaf, K$ace, Swoosh, Nick Catcdubs, Nyck @ Knight and special guest.

Fools Gold specializes in generations and when we put together lineups for our Fools Gold Day festivals it’s always a mix of a couple of buzzing current artist, rappers a few DJ’s that we know can get the party going from this kind of audience I’m not going to pick a techno DJ for a rap party. But, I am going to pick someone who will play some electronic stuff that will appeal to that crowd. It’s like finding the right balance and even with the rappers and performers there’s always that mix that we’re able to make without stacking to many names on the flyer. Like a Fools Gold event isn’t going to have 30 names it’s going to have 9 or 10. With those 9 or 10 names we try to make the perfect choice.

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