January 20, 2012 12:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: The Michigan Union Ballroom
Beat battles began shortly after the birth of hip-hop, providing a Coliseum for DJs to scratch and spin against other DJs in hopes of winning local recognition. The beauty of the battle is that anyone can enter, regardless of skill or fame. F.O.K.U.S. sees the beat battle as an ideal venue for local artists and members within a specific community – namely, the University of Michigan community – to come together and experience a culture that celebrates innovation and collaboration in conjunction with competition. The purpose of this year’s Beat Battle is to produce a platform for individuals to explore the way musical genres have interacted and influenced one another historically to create the music we listen to today. Under the blanket categories of electronic music and hip-hop, DJs will mix their own beats using songs F.O.K.U.S. has dubbed transformational from genres such as soul, funk, pop, classical, jazz, and world. Judges will vary in musical experience and will give historical and social background for the songs being remixed.The audience will listen, dance, and judge the beats together. By creating an inclusive and fun environment, F.O.K.U.S. aims to start conversations and create links between communities that might not normally be in the same room. The guy you imagine to be a hip-hop head is actually nodding along to Cher while the woman you would never imagine to see at an Immortal Technique concert is singing all the words. The idea of the Beat Battle as a part of the the Symposium is a fresh take on continuing the legacy of Dr. King; one of Dr. King’s messages to the nation, and the world, was to promote diversity and open spaces for all people. Hip-hop has consistently promoted and maintained this openness in its fan-base and in its creators. Its MC’s and beatmakers speak almost every language and reach every point of the globe, to the small housing projects of Sweden to the villages of Africa to the cities of Japan and Seoul and to the corn-growing communities in Iowa. No longer is hip-hop confined to the American city. The Beat Battle places emphasis on skill and ability, rather than style of dress, faith or ethnicity. With such participation, a natural conversation and recognition of the true essence of community and diversity will develop.