The next family gathering J. Catalyst attends may be a bit awkward. At Club Dada on Friday he edged out five rappers to become the brand new Master of the Mic, and among them was his own cousin, Dre the Hitman.
J. Catalyst, whose real name is Jason Broussard, is the second person to hold the title; Alsace Carcione won in 2015. The finals in Deep Ellum, judged by the D.O.C., Picnictyme and DJ Kayotik, were the climax to a year-long process in which 50 artists were pared down to six at open mics in Dallas, Denton and Fort Worth.
Broussard, who represented Dallas, believes it was the element of surprise he brought to his performance that allowed him to beat out Kilo Art-of-Fact, Koolbrz, David Allen Dope, Juq’o Vibe and Dre the Hitman.
“I always did things that were unexpected at my shows,” he says. “As a showman I wanted to capture the audience’s attention and get them to respond. I wanted to entertain them, surprise them and at the same time deliver bars.”
Broussard relied on more than just his lyrical abilities to keep the audience and judges entertained throughout the competition. At various points he introduced backup vocalists, dancers, a drummer and a fog machine. In the final round he invited the crowd to document his performance using a special Snapchat filter he'd designed for the occasion.
In an interview with the Observer last week, event organizer Callie Dee described Broussard as "very much a performer," and predicted that we would bring his A-game to the finals.
Broussard won a grand prize package that includes a headlining show at Trees, a custom merchandising package from Awready Merch, a studio session with prominent producer Sikwitit, one month of PR and brand management from Creative Currency and a consultation with Socialwerk. In just its second year, the Master of the Mic competition has proved itself to be an excellent way for local artists to earn exposure and resources to develop their careers.
However, Broussard is no newcomer to the music world or music competitions. He’s already released several projects, with another release due in March, and he's building a brand called Fresh World that encompasses several artists.
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He was also the winner of the 2011 Coast to Coast Mixtapes competition in New York, where he now resides and interns at Quad Studios.
Broussard says he returned to DFW this weekend because he wanted to “settle some unfinished business." In addition to his performance being well thought out, his flow was confident and intentional. He delivered his songs “I Am” and “Purge" with the same intensity heard on their recorded versions.
“I’m a hip-hop artist at the core but my music could be described as unlabeled,” Broussard says. "I’ve never been a one-lane type of person. I’m the artist that is winning off of keeping people guessing what’s next.”
Footage of J. Catalyst's winning performance can be found here.