Sikwitit loves a good beat battle. It strips his art — music production — down to its barest elements, and pits one producer against another to see who's best. It's pure competition. And Sikwitit is pretty damn good at battling.
Last November, the Dallas producer traveled to New York City for the Beast of the Beats showcase, a competition that drew over 1,500 producers from around the country to compete. Sikwitit won. Since then, he's started to enjoy the life of a traveling DJ and producer. He went to Los Angeles to work with Snow Tha Product at Atlantic Recording Studios and make beats for a couple days and performed in several other cities. “I’m kind of catching a buzz at this point,” he says.
But now he's working on a new project, one that doesn't pit producers against one another but rather brings them together. And he's doing it right here in Dallas, in the hopes of drawing more attention to the talent in our city.
It's called the Dallas Producer Collaboration Project, a week-long series of sessions collaborating with 10 other local producers in a few different studios. After completing the last sessions on Sunday, the project will culminate on July 9 with the release of a free beat tape and a 15-minute video documenting how the project unfolded.
The Beast of the Beats showcase was a good indication of what’s already happening in Dallas. Competitions were setup in cities all over the country, with the final competition in New York City. While Sikwitit was the winner, another Dallas producer, Medasin, came in second, and Dallas accounted for approximately a third of the producers who made it to the finals. “People are starting to talk about the producers in Dallas,” Sikwitit says.
Beat battle events have galvanized the producer community. “Some organic things are really happening in Dallas,” Sikwitit says, sitting in Legacy Music Group. The upscale studio has been in Deep Ellum for about a year and owner Matthew Medlock has donated several hours of studio time to support the project. “I wanted to use my influence to help nurture what’s happening." The project is an opportunity to showcase the different talents of Dallas producers. At Legacy he is collaborating with Reezytunez and Oktober1st has joined them to observe and contribute sound bytes.
The Dallas Producer Collaboration Project will showcase all these different sounds and facilitate collaborations between producers on local and national projects. There's Sikwitit's fusion style, Reezytunez' heavy bounce, Medasin's soul trap, George Rose's EDM trap and B. Barber's modern funk, plus diverse other approaches. This short list well-represents Dallas producers: No one sounds the same.
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Oktober1st feels that the Dallas music scene will blow up, but it will be for producers, and sees the project as an extra boost. Reezytunez agrees: “Producers will elevate it to the next level as far as making a paid way for everyone to come work down here.” Many national artists come to Dallas on tour, but they rarely stop to work with a local producer like they do in Miami or Atlanta.
The whole point, though, is to get people collaborating in person and not just through the Internet. “The old school way is still the best way,” says Oktober1st. This is what makes beat battles so special: Many Dallas producers meet at these events and start influencing and encouraging each other. They also use these performances as platforms to network and make connections within the music industry. It's much different than making beats in your home and waiting for someone to email you.
“The producer atmosphere of today has totally changed,” Sikwitit says. “The new producer is more involved with the creative process of the music.” More and more, people are aware of who produces a track, not just who sings or raps over it. And thanks to people like Sikwitit, more and more of those producers could be from Dallas.