THE MODERN HUMAN BEATBOXING CULTURE
The idea for a global human beatboxing platform was brought to life by the urban culture activist and hip hop icon Alexander Bülow aka Bee Low in spring 2001. Through his moderation and hosting activities on the stage of national DJ championships, he recognized the potential that it radiates a high entertainment factor when musicians compete alone with their human voice and a microphone in a competition format. Because, since his youth Bee Low is known for his vocal scratch and special fx sound imitations. Even before the Berlin Wall came down, he developed a passion for break dancing, Graffiti writing, human beatboxing and quickly met like-minded people like Ckay, Maxim (R.I.P), Sugarbox (R.I.P) and DJ Mesia.
With the technological development of e-mail communication and the sending of sound recordings via mp3, Bee Low expanded his networking activities and used the early internet to find like-minded people from Germany to convince and motivate them to join his German based network. During this time he planned the first edition of the German championship and created for the event promotion the initial corporate identity under the guidance of graphic designer David Griesch and Graffiti pioneer Deko 156. In collaboration with media designer Björn Machens, they developed a significant online presence, which rapidly evolved into a digital platform for individuals who share beatbox related topics within the younger generation.
1. OFFICIAL BEATBOX CHAMPIONSHIP
The Beatbox Battle Network was then officially launched in the summer of 2002 with the pre-production of the German Beatbox Battle on 19. September at the Icon club in Berlin. After this legendary event took place, the videographer Benjamin Wüst edited the whole video footage and uploaded the content on the Google Video platform in 480p (4:3) resolution due to the slow internet bandwidth available at that time. Then the team recognized that their event became a significant milestone in the development of all global beatbox activities back then. Prior to this, the art of beatboxing, which is considered the fifth element of hip hop culture, was mainly present in freestyle and jam sessions within hip hop events. Bee Low, who had extensive experience in DJ-Battles and Break Dance Battles, had a vision of creating a global umbrella organization exclusively for human beatboxing artists. With great motivation, in consultation with Maxim (R.I.P) and DJ Mesia, he developed a sophisticated competition format that should work across borders in order to unite potential organizers into an event-based network.
In the summer of 2004, Bee Low was able to add strong partners to its newly founded network in European countries such as Poland, Austria, Italy, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Finland, Spain, France, Belgium, Greek, Hungary, Bulgaria, Denmark and England permanent partner count. Especially his close friendship to his like-minded colleague Terry Lewis aka Kid Lucky (R.I.P) from New York motivated him to extract his vision to a global scale. Despite not generating a lucrative income in most of his collaborations, he expanded his networking activities to more than 30 country chapters and motivated even more like-minded individuals to join him in expanding the non-profit event series to other continents.
PARTNER OF THE HIP HOP WORLD CHALLENGE
In the spring of 2005, Bee Low realized that the next step had to be an official beatbox world championship. However, since he had no financial resources to realize the project, he joined forces with Thomas Hergenroether from Battle of the Year and Kai Goebels from ITF German DJ Championship. Together, they formed the Hip Hop World Challenge, as a cultural project for the FIFA World Cup 2006 that would showcase the hip hop elements of break dancing, DJ’ing and beatboxing in a large festival. Six months later, the first world championship on 09.-10. September 2005 at the Kohlrabizirkus in Leipzig, Germany became a reality. This event marked the beginning of a new era in the world of human beatboxing and set the foundation for all future global beatbox competitions on earth. The event was the first of its kind and featured 46 vocal percussion artists from 21 different countries. The competition had categories for men’s solo, women’s solo, and a crew battle format.
After successfully producing the Hip Hop World Challenge festival, Bee Low embarked on a journey to Japan as a participating artist in the Backjumps Berlin-Tokyo exhibition, which was organized by Adrian Nabi. This trip proved to be a turning point for Bee Low, as he began to think more globally about his networking strategies. While in Shibuya, he had the opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals, such as Afra and his friend from the Incredible Beatbox Band, who inspired him greatly. During his time in Japan, Bee Low had the privilege of meeting some of the pioneers of the Japanese beatboxing and a-cappella scene, which was an unbelievable experience. He was even invited to perform a 15 minute showcase at the legendary open air concert stage at Yoyogi-Park. The performance was made even more memorable with the support of B-Boy Amigo of the Flying Steps and Thomas Bratzke, who added their Jazz Style Corner live painting session to the mix. This experience motivated him to think more globally in his networking structure and expand his horizons for new connections in the international scene.
THE BIRTH OF THE ONLINE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Upon Bee Low’s return to Berlin, he immediately met with Benjamin Wüst and Philipp Angele the media producer who recorded the stage footage of the first Beatbox World Championship, to begin editing the video material. In the process of producing the documentary videos, the three friends decided to establish the world’s first serious video production company for human beatboxing related content. This was the birth of Beatbox Battle TV. Then Bee Low was already busy organizing the German Beatbox Battle 2006, where he landed the first major deal for the newly formed company. The largest video platform in Germany at the time, MyVideo.de signed a publishing agreement with Bee Low for the release of the upcoming video clips of the German Beatbox Battle 2006. As a result, Beatbox Battle TV hosted the world’s first online beatbox championship on the MyVideo.de platform. It is important to mention that YouTube.com was not used by European video creators at that time.
After Bee Low had successfully intensified communication within his network, he developed into an ambassador of urban culture for the young beatbox scene and concentrated his organizational talent more on external event productions. Through strategic negotiations with the organizers of the biggest music festivals in Europe such as Hip Hop Kemp (CZ), Splash Festival (GER), Urban Rapublic (CZ), Pipefest (FIN), Eurockeennes Festival (FRA), Hip Hop Connection (AT), Øya Festival (NOR), Turning Fest (FIN) as well as nightclubs and cultural youth organizations from almost all European capitals, the Beatbox Battle Network grew rapidly. The aim was to organize a comprehensive series of events that can be realized with a minimal budget for travel and logistics costs.
THE GAME CHANGER FOR THE COMMUNITY
The most important networking event at that time was the Beatbox Battle Convention Days in January 2008. This festival was a milestone for the development of the global newschool beatboxing scene, as all currently relevant artists met for a meet & greet in Berlin, Germany over the weekend. The lineup surpassed anything that had ever been seen before, including Skiller, Micspawn, Nexor, Slizzer, Dharni, Roxorloops, Lytos, Blady Kris, Eklips, TikTak, 4xSample, Markooz, Ezra, Waxybox, Beat Warriors, Dhap, Beatburger Band, Robeat, Oslim, Boy Kot, Beatur, Adam Matta, Red One, Cuba, DJ Mesia, Oralic Sound Machines, Zeero, Mastee, as well as half of the German scene. Additionally, Bee Low had invited all the relevant female beatbox stars at the time, such as Steff la Cheffe, Cheryl, Squeak and Fati to actively promote the female movement. Real friendships were formed at this event, which continue to this day. It should be noted that most of the artists had never met each other in person before and had only known each other virtually through the Beatbox Battle TV online forum. After this cultural experience, it was only a matter of time before the next world championship came along.
The second world championship took place in Berlin, Germany at the 2Be Club between 29.-31. May 2009. The event was a three-day mouth music gathering and featured 112 artists from 33 countries. Alongside the competition categories for men’s solo, women’s solo and crew battles, the event also included a convention day with several performances, concerts, workshops and a community-building meet & greet conference. The third world championship was held on 31. March 2012 in Berlin, Germany, at the Astra Kulturhaus. This festival edition only featured the men’s and women’s solo categories including a live music program with in total 124 participating artists from 28 different nations. The event marked a global peak in the beatboxing movement as it was growing massively on several new online communities that had come up like rising stars.
THE PEAK OF THE GLOBAL MOVEMENT
In 2015, the global beatbox scene underwent a significant transformation as a new generation of artists and fans emerged with a greater focus on digital media. The focus shifted from the established old school and middle school heroes of the scene to the young and wild new school generation. Values such as online reach and reputation in social media played a major role from then on. Then Bee Low, recognized that the beatboxing movement needed another push to create a new spirit in the championship legacy. He invited the international community to participate in the fourth world championship, which was held on 29.-30. May 2015 again at the Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin. He introduced a new competition format called tag team battle, which had more variety beside the crew tournament for hip hop groups and a-cappella bands.
In 2018, the fifth world championship festival was held with 203 participating artists from over 50 countries. The event took place one more time at the Astra Kulturhaus in Berlin between 03.-04. August 2018, and remains the largest human beatbox event of all time. Never before had more than 200 professional beatboxers shared the same stage. This event format influenced the global youth culture movement for more than 2 decades now. Since then, principles such as tolerance and respect have been the focus, without neglecting the competitive character. On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Beatbox Battle Network, Bee Low is organizing the 6th world championship after the forced production hiatus due to Covid-19. The event is intended to revive traditional values and promote cultural enrichment for the next generation.