Let’s take a deep dive into why original songs are the future of beatbox.
This article was written by a new contributor, DongYoon Shin.
Two years ago, Gene made his GBBB wildcard video “Jigsaw”, and it was utterly sensational. In my humble opinion, this is next level beatbox. The lyrics are genuinely relatable to beatboxers, the melody is beautiful, and the structure is perfect - making this undoubtedly a complete piece of music.
And most importantly, “Jigsaw” is his original song.
It isn’t the first time that original songs in beatbox fascinated us. Reeps One’s “Move”, Dharni’s “Baby Don’t Go”, Efaybee’s “What’s My Name”, Ball-Zee’s “Take You Higher”, and many other great original songs created by both classic and contemporary beatboxers have inspired our community.
So, what led, or perhaps challenged, these artists to create them?
BEATBOX = MUSIC
Two years ago, our good old UK legend THEPETEBOX had a TEDx showcase in Warwick. There, he introduces the term beatboxing as a “musical instrument; a means to an end to create musical sonic products.” He further states that, "beatboxing is a very immediate outlet for the innate composition to create music.”
The equation ‘beatbox = music’ has been unanimously agreed by beatboxing communities. Reeps One is also one of the most influential proponents of this thought. He claims in his “Beyond the Beats” interview that “if you take something that is just routine, or you think it’s just a routine, or any kind of beatbox idea, if you structure it like a song, it becomes song.” What these two great UK legends tell us is that the original songs in beatbox are created simply because of this art form's very nature.
Loopstation vs. Solo Beatbox
In the same “Beyond the Beats” interview, Reeps One further argues that many solo beatboxers struggle to take their beatboxing to the level and have it sound like other producers or musicians that make fully produced tunes with multiple layers.
THEPETEBOX makes a similar argument in his showcase at TEDx. He claims that with solo beatboxing, it doesn’t sound massive and doesn’t sound like a full sounding track. However, things get contentious as they move on to the solution to this very dilemma. While Reeps One encourages solo beatboxers to treat their beats moment by moment and bring the perfect EQ situation in each moment, THEPETEBOX simply walks towards his loop station set.
Chronologically, solo beatbox and the loopstation beatbox walked side by side in terms of original music.
The old-school beatbox icon Razhel, who released the first original song in the history of beatbox, ‘If Your Mother Only Knew’, claimed that he made the looping tracks way before the substantial technology or even concept of loop station (which he had to manually record and layer it on top of his other recordings with a tape recorder).
Slizzer’s “Everyday You’re In My Mind” is the first original song featured on the Swissbeatbox channel. Surprisingly, the day that this video was uploaded, April 20th of 2009, was exactly one day after Dub fx’s “Flow” was uploaded - one of the most famous loop station videos on the internet.
This phenomenon is not too much different to the status quo. Beatboxers like Thorsen and Ibarra, who were already famous with their respective solo beatbox careers, surprised our community again by showing how far they can achieve musicality with their loop station. In fact, many solo beatboxers – like Napom, Kaila, and even Gene, have purchased loop stations and practice religiously on it to expand their musicality.
What does this say about the future of the original music in beatbox?
As long as we stay with firm belief of the 'Beatbox = music' equation, it will continue to be elevated to the next level.
Some people can think that my article is implying the dominance of the loop station in the future – that it is going to replace solo beatbox and become the main medium to create original songs in beatbox.
For a fact, loop stations enable beatboxers to loop multiple layers of sounds and effects. Lots of contemporary solo beatboxers are practicing with loopstations to expand their musicality. In my opinion, neither will fall behind the other.
Even though solo beatboxers have a hard time making their routines full and complete with limited layers, they nonetheless have continued to develop even after loop stations became “cool.”
So we know that the layers aren’t only the ultimate quality of good music. Again referring back to the previous interview, Reeps One mentioned Bobby McFerrin - how he managed to move a 100,000-person crowd with only one voice. With this, he made the ultimate conclusion that beatbox is music because it can “move” people.
This is what the next level is about.
Thank you for reading my very first article here on Humanbeatbox.com! Please share your thoughts with us and your friends.
- DongYoon Shin