Review: 2012 Toronto Beatbox Battle Presented by KRNFX

2012 Toronto Beatbox Battle

Friday night, Sahar – a fellow Say Kimchi member – and I went to the 2012 Toronto Beatbox Battle presented by KRNFX. I’ll be honest, while I do enjoy beatboxing & love any kind of live music… the real draw was that it was hosted by KRNFX and Dumbfoundead – yes, DUMBFOUNDEAD – was performing at the end of the show. Come on, how could I not attend?!?

I first saw KRNFX at the 2011 Kollaboration Toronto event and was impressed. In fact, he was the first performer I interviewed (at the same event) after becoming a Worldwide Korea Blogger. Since then I’ve followed him on YouTube and I jumped at the chance to see him perform again.

And of course, I was super excited to be able to see Dumbfoundead perform live as I’d only seen him on YouTube before. I seriously love YouTube; it’s the best place to get my music fix – from K-pop videos to finding emerging North American performers. Plus, apart from the fan in me wanting to see him perform, I knew it would make for a great blog article.

We arrived a little early at 7pm but that gave us a chance to scope out the venue – The Cave on College Street in Toronto. It’s small and intimate but man, was there a heavy incense smell. I could smell it and I was just getting over the flu. But soon, the place was filling up with beatbox competitors from all over North America. No joke, there were competitors from not only all over the GTA and Ontario – even one from Parry Sound – but also from places like Victoria, BC; New York City; Pennsylvania; and Illinois. Yeah, it was mostly east coast but dang, I was impressed that someone came all the way from Victoria! There were definitely quite a few talented beatboxers – even my untrained ear could pick that up.

The semi-finals are underway

The judges – KRNFX (Originality), Scott Jackson (Foundation), KILLABEATZ (Dynamics), ShaolinMilk (Execution), Organik (Battle) – had their work cut out for them judging all 26 competitors (I think I got the correct count) on the following criteria:

  • Foundation: The sense of rhythm, groove and ability to create/maintain a beat.
  • Originality: The creativity and artistry of the beats.
  • Dynamics: The difficulty and complexity of the beats.
  • Execution: The cleanliness and perfection of the sounds and beats.
  • Battle: The response and animosity towards your opponent(Only used in face-to-face rounds).

After all the competitors had their initial 45 seconds, the judges took about 15 minutes to calculate the scores and whittle the field down to 8. The top 8 then went head-to-head starting with the top seed facing off against the #8 seed. Once that round was finished it was down to the top 4 and wow, was it cool to watch them go head-to-head. Damn, those guys had talent. And finally, it was down to the top 2. What a battle! It was amazing to hear. 

I may not have attended the event exclusively for the beatboxing but it was definitely worth the price of admission. Here’s a breakdown of the top eight (I hope I spelled everyone’s names correctly, my apologies if I haven’t).

  1. BBK
  2. Young
  3. Heat
  4. NYC Beatbox
  5. Risen
  6. Tony C
  7. Sung Lee
  8. IV8
And the winner was BBK!

Congrats to the winner – BBK – and the guy who came second – Young – on their amazing performance and a well-fought battle!


After a short break, KRNFX – whose real name is Terry Im – did a short set. Dang, when he was layering sounds… wow! My only wish would have been a longer set! Amazing!! KRNFX is the first ever, undefeated and current Canadian Beatbox Champion. He’s a Toronto-born Korean-Canadian musician who’s ranked as one of the top beatbox artists in the world. If you have a chance, check him out on YouTube or even better, catch him live if you can.

Sahar and Dumbfoundead

Sahar and I had slowly been creeping up to the front of the venue all night and now that it was time for Dumbfoundead to come on, we were right at the front. Yay! In fact, we actually got a picture with him – well, Sahar did and I took it. I feel that as a writer, I can’t really act like a fan even if I want to – it’s just not professional. But I can make sure I have great seats – or in this case, a great place to stand.

Dumbfoundead and DJ Zo

Dumbfoundead was everything I hoped for. Okay, that sounds cheesy, even for me, but he puts on a fab show! He was performing with DJ Zo and the two of them have great chemistry together. So much energy and a great sense of humour! And of course, excellent music!

I was having a hard time remembering to take pictures & video because I was enjoying the show so much. The trials of writing about an artist I like. 🙂 It’s a hard life! Seriously, fan gushing aside, he/they really do put on a marvellous show. They have a great vibe, connection with the crowd (small and intimate though it was), humour (which makes it just that much more personal) and of course, the music rocked! If you are interested in rap/hip hop, you should really check out Dumbfoundead – that is, if you haven’t already. And don’t worry if you don’t know Korean, his music is all in English. For those of you who don’t know his music, he’s a Korean-American rapper from Los Angeles.

And to top off a fun night of music, he was selling his latest CD – DFD – and autographing them. How could I not?!? So of course, Sahar and I were among the first in the line to buy one and get it autographed. All in all, a great night of music!

The event was Sponsored by
KRNFX: 2010 & 2011 Canadian Beatbox Champion

KING OF THE DOT: Canada’s Premier Rap Battle League

BEATBOX CANADA: Home of the Annural Canadian Beatbox Championships

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday - this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it's taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I'm the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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