By SERENE LING
Anyone who’s ever watched some of the young beatboxers from BeatNation perform cannot possibly deny their skills and passion for what they do.
Founded in August 2011, BeatNation is the brainchild of two budding entrepreneurs, Cody Foo, 20, and Lau Soong Huey, 21. Better known as DJ Coex and ABeatC respectively, the co-founders of BeatNation form quite a formidable pair.
Having won competitions like the 808 Beatbox Championships’ Asian league and the Beatbox Dance Mashup 2012 between them, they are certainly at the top of their game.
And last Saturday, they did something to help boost the entire local beatboxing scene, by organising the Battle of the 5th Element beatboxing competition, which drew participants from Singapore and even all the way from the Maldives.
It was a colourful showcase of solo battles and duo performances with many local fledglings fighting for exposure among the big guys.
The idea of the event was simple: bring together as many amateur beatboxers as possible, and pitch them against each other in 90-minute battles judged by Coex, ABeatC and Jason “Vandal” Schadt, managing director of hip-hop talent company The MoveMint.
Jin Hackman, one of Malaysia’s top MCs, hosted the event, held at The Crib KL. With prizes from Showroom KL, Negative and Stüssy, beatboxers from all over the country were clamouring to show off their talents.
The competition started a little slow in the morning, but the crowd slowly grew louder and they never turned back, cheering on the contestants throughout the rest of the day.
Tensions were high as the final rounds approached. Not even a heavy downpour in the evening was able to put a damper on the competition. The long day and many gruelling battles proved to be well worth it for Melvin Lim, aka Nozy, 20, who emerged champion of the solo battles.
“I got shades, T-shirt and shoes – but no cap. I’m disappointed I don’t get a cap,” the Ampang, Kuala Lumpur boy said jokingly of his prize. “But I’m really happy I got the title, and that’s everything. BeatNation is like a family to me.”
Coming in second for the solos was Maldivian competitor Mohammed Ashwan (Krazy Rex), 19. When asked how he got involved with beatboxing, Krazy Rex said he originally wanted to play the drums, but then he fell in love with beatboxing instead.
“This is like a family reunion, not a competition,” he said. “I’ll just keep on going wherever beatboxing takes me.”
Second runner-up and local boy Tai Hong, 23, went home as the champion of the duo beatbox showcase together with his partner “Stanza” Lim Yi Siang, 20. Known as the Potato Brothers, the duo had to beat off stiff competition from Singapore to bag their title.
“When the Singaporeans finished their showcase… Wow. They were really well organised and well prepared. They came all the way from Singapore just for this, and I really thought they deserved to win,” said Stanza, shouting out to the 808 Crew from Singapore.
ABeatC is now looking into the possibility of holding an Asian beatboxing convention sometime in the future.
He said: “We could invite neighbouring countries and just jam and battle together, bonding as a family. Beatboxing isn’t a gimmick or a party trick – it’s an art. So appreciate art, and you will be appreciated in return.”