The 13-week 2014 “Flavor Battle” competition, launched by McDonald’s USA, will come to a close Wednesday as three disc jockeys battle for $10,000 and DJ supremacy at Windmill Studios in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The competition finale, which will air February 13 on FlavorBattle.com, will be hosted by DJ Funkmaster Flex. “Flavor Battle,” which kicked off in November, began with 12 up-and-coming DJ’s who were chosen based on their social media following. Each artist represented a U.S. region and one of McDonald’s new Quarter Pounders: Bacon & Cheese Quarter Pounder, Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder and the Deluxe Quarter Pounder. Consumers were invited to the website to listen to tracks from each artist and vote for their favorite mix-master.
Three DJs are left standing: DJ R-Tistic of Los Angeles, Niena Drake of Chicago, and DJ Erika B of Newport News, Va. The remaining contestants will now battle it out in front of celebrity judges Spinderella, Just Blaze, DJ Clue and DeeJay Element. Ultimately, one DJ will be crowned the Flavor Battle champion and win $10,000 and $1,000 in McDonald’s Arch Cards.
The DJs already have plans to invest in their equipment should they win. “I would buy a computer,” Niena Drake told MN Business. “My goal is to also be a philanthropists for the arts,” she added, saying she would use a portion of the money to launch a nonprofit for aspiring artists. DJ Erika B also talked about giving back to her community.
DJ’ing has become more popular over recent years, so for these finalists, this competition is also chance to build a platform for themselves in an increasingly crowded field.
“DJ’ing has extended beyond hip hop,” said DJ R-Tistic. “It’s the headliner. It’s where some of the biggest stars are.”
“Technology has made DJ’ing more easily accessible,” adds Niena Drake. “The talent is going to prevail over what someone wants to do for a hobby. This is my life.”
Still, this is an area of music that’s male-dominated. For the women, there are hurdles to overcome.
“I hear jokes,” said Erika B, “but it’s not necessarily harder. Based on the audience, I change the approach. I may incorporate an actual performance rather than just standing there.”
“I get a lot of comments. But I walk tall and strong in what’s assumed to be a man’s job,” adds Niena Drake. “I still wear my heels and perform in dresses… It’s not helping because I’m a woman. It’s harder because of the assumptions.”
The contest has been a lot of work for all three finalists, but worth it.
“It’s been stressful but rewarding,” said DJ R-Tistic.
“To represent your city for a competition like this has been an honor,” Niena Drake chimed in.