National Beatbox Championship, BattleBoxBD 2019

Sumaiya Kabir covers the story of “BattleBoxBD” where the youth come together to fight and witness raw human energy – weapon? Only your vocals and the sheer power of the quick mind!

If you have not heard of “BattleBoxBD” in the last three years, you have definitely been living under a rock! While Dhaka never falls short of activities – especially in winter – for the amusement of the youth, no one expected a championship on just beatboxing to take the city by this much of a storm. And yet, it has! 

Never has Dhaka witnessed a more colourful and thriving hip-hop scene. Having developed slowly through music over the last decade, it is now inclusive of more diverse talents and mediums, emerging through such competitions that keep the passion alive and the youth interested in pursuing their skills in arts.

For anyone who is a stranger to the concept of beatboxing, here’s what makes it so remarkably unique – it is a musical style that is entirely given life to by the mouth, tongue and voice that mimic traditional musical instruments and other sounds, with no help of instruments at all! It sounds complicated, but the huge number of talented performers at the “BattleBoxBD” competition every year makes it seem like a piece of cake.  

The Beginning

It all started in 2014 when a couple of talented folks got together to form for the first time in Bangladesh an official community that supports the art of vocal percussion and the acapella culture, pertinent to what was then newly trending on the world wide web. They named themselves Beatbox Bangladesh or BTBXBD.

Not too long after, came what was inevitably becoming essential – a platform to showcase the country’s many hidden beatboxing talents. So BTBXBD’s Moktadir Dewan Shanto (‘Beatkbasho’) and Ronesh Biswas decided to create “BattleBoxBD” – the official national beatbox championship of Bangladesh.

The third edition of this competition successfully took place on the 20th of December in
Jamuna Future Park, entirely crowdfunded, sponsored by Nagib Hawk and friends of BTBXBD, co-organized by The Mothership Records, and in association with the U.S. Embassy-Dhaka (who helped fund the three international judges).

BattleBoxBD 2019

Mock battles? Elimination round? Wild card entries? You name it. Keeping in line with the motto ‘keep the beat up’ BattleBoxBD this year had everything to keep you on your toes!

The selected 16 were all judged by three globally renowned beatboxing artists – Bangladeshi American Amit Bhowmick, winner of several battles across USA and Europe himself, alongside Gene Shinozaki, a Berklee College of Music street performer, from the Berklee College of Music, a street performer, multi-instrumentalist and music producer known for his signature brand of beatboxing that involves performing all the roles of an entire rock band simply through vocal percussion, and Napom from The Beatbox House who is known for his unique lip-roll technique, crazy compositions, and as the Grand Beatbox Battle 2017 Champion.

Prior to the big day, these famous judges also held multiple city tours, workshops, fundraising concerts, and more. Some of Dhaka’s finest rappers such as Nizam Rabby and Asir were also part of this significant initiative.

The Winner Takes It All

On the much-awaited day of the finale, each of the 16 participants was analyzed during their 3-minute performances on their musical originality, their techniques and flow, stamina in their showmanship, and two of the most critical factors of beatboxing – mic control and spontaneity. 

After surviving two rounds of elimination and an epic rap battle final round of dropping
verses, Khandaker Shams aka the famous “Beat Fizz” took home the title of the grand winner! As this year’s official national beatbox champion, Beat Fizz is set to represent Bangladesh at the world stage in the coming year. He was also the vice-champion of the previous year’s BattleBoxBD.

This year’s vice-champion was two times BattleBoxBD champion Rafiun Nabi Nahin aka “RafTeknix”. Savage (Tasnimul Pavel) from Chattogram and Berzerk (Latifur Rahman Shawon) also made it to the top 4. Other performers were Pyro, F8X, Gazipur’s Eklectik and Chittagong’s Zahin7, to name a few.

Louder the Beat, Bigger the Heat!

Aside from the competition itself, the immense crowd at JFP also witnessed terrific performances by the judges, Sha Vlimpse, and the internet sensation duo, the young voice and wordsmith from the streets, Rana and Tabib Mahmud.

Limited global edition white and classic black Beatbox Bangladesh t-shirts, and snapback caps were also available for the fans to purchase at the event.

Fans who couldn’t make it to the stage shared their beatboxing videos on social media to hype up the event, so much that the stage broke from the love and enthusiasm of the enormous number of people that showed up – perhaps the most satisfying memory the organizers took home from the day!

If you are still feeling out of the loop, update yourself through BeatBox Bangladesh’s Facebook page and their hashtags, where you will find news, music and interactive videos on the local scene as well as beatboxers from around the world! 

*Photographs: Hossain Shoinik