Producers (from left) Scott Ohtoro, Rawnie Lovely, Stutterin' Stan and Magic Atlas battled it out at Beatroot Grand Championships ANTON GLAMB PHOTO

Producers (from left) Scott Ohtoro, Rawnie Lovely, Stutterin’ Stan and Magic Atlas battled it out at Beatroot Grand Championships ANTON GLAMB PHOTO


At first, I was really bummed that I was going to miss Dave Koz at Hawaii Theatre. He’s sort of been the king of the smooth jazz/elevator music sound, and I’m always down to get my snazz on.

But, I wasn’t tripping on it because Taimane was having her Planetary CD Release Party at the Bishop Museum’s lawn to celebrate her new album, We Are Made From Stars. It was a huge spectacle with lasers, a 20-foot high pyramidal aerial dance contraption, tribal drummers, Kealoha, fire dancers and a stage show format telling a tale of the planets and our cosmic connection to the universe. It was pouring rain, but that didn’t stop hundreds of people from sticking it out.

The museum’s parking lot was filled to the limit, and nearly all street parking around the museum had been snatched up. I hate to say it, but I’m a little glad it was raining, because I can’t imagine how crowded it would have been if the weather was perfect. The rain also complimented Taimane’s celestial theme, and those who stuck it out had an experience they will likely never forget, unless they have some type of memory loss.

After dinner at Mexico Restaurant, I headed to Hawaiian Brian’s to check out the Beatroot Grand Championships. Lightsleepers has been hosting qualifying rounds all year at Easy Music Center on King Street, challenging local music producers to bring their tracks out of the bedroom and in front of a crowd. Even though it’s framed as a competition, the battle is a way to inspire collaboration and exchange of ideas through an art form that tends to be very solitary and behind the scenes. The beats these artists create often are the backing tracks for rappers. But at Beatroot, it’s the beat makers’ turn to get out from behind the shadows and shine.

The qualifying rounds have beat makers bringing their best new creations to the table with no restrictions on genre, format or content, aside from a 90-second limit. However, in the finals, there are several tasks assigned to even out the playing field, with selected sound packs, required remixes and sample banks.

I got in there just as the semi-finals were about to begin. Scott Ohtoro’s dreamy abstract soundscapes were hard to compare to Stutterin’ Stan’s clean execution and remixes. Magic Atlas’ high hats and hard stabs won out against Rawnie Lovely’s reggae renditions and clever cuts. In the final battle, a tie-breaker, Stutterin’ Stan took the title over Magic Atlas with a Backstreet Boys remix that bent space and time.

(If you missed it all, you still can check out interviews with the finalists here:

All night, each producer had such a distinct and impressive signature sound that I viewed the event more as a showcase of a specific niche of Honolulu’s music scene than a competition. Even though only one can win, they were all grand champions to me.