Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lip service

In an age where a machine can make any noise imaginable, beatboxing hasn’t lost its novelty.

Employed by artists ranging from Michael Jackson to Matisyahu, the quirky, jaw-dropping vocal percussion style, where sounds of drum beats are made using one’s lips, mouth and voice, has seduced musicians all over the world.

There are international beatboxing competitions every year overseas, but Bensonhurst actor and beatboxer Chesney Snow decided it was high time we had our own.

So on July 31, the World Beatbox Association throws its first American Beatbox Championships at Littlefield in Gowanus, where the best of the best here will show off their spitting skills. Throughout the weekend, the venue will also host the Sixth International Human Beatbox Convention, traditionally held in London.

“Overseas, it’s become so huge. I felt there was something that needed to spark the growth of the culture here in the United States,” said Snow. “And it was really important for me for this to happen in Brooklyn. There’s just something about the grassroots style of community here. It would not have felt right for any place else to host the first US championships.”

The first day will feature the competition — eight beatboxers from across the country, whittled down from 65 through months of online judging, battling it out on stage. Over the course of the weekend, there will also be beatboxing workshops, performances from beatboxing masters including Kenny Muhammad, film screenings and panels discussions, all focused on beatboxing as an art form.

“It’s more than just creating and mimicking sounds,” said Snow (who you can watch in action below in a performance at Southpaw). “There is a deeper sense to this, just as there’s a deeper sense to music.”

American Beatbox Championships and International Human Beatbox Convention at Littlefield [622 Degraw St. between Third and Fourth avenues in Gowanus, (718) 855-3388], July 31 from 10 am-midnight and August 1 from noon-5 pm. Tickets $35 per day, $85 for weekend pass. Use promo code CourierBOX to get half-priced tickets. For info, visit


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