Recently, Red Bull proved itself to be on the cutting edge of modern athletics and pop culture when they announced that they would be hosting The Red Bull BC One breakdancing contest. The competition, according to the Los Angeles Times, comes just under a month after Paris 2024 officials proposed the addition of breakdancing as an Olympic sport. What was once a dance movement that originated on the streets of New York in the 1970s has, according to Olympic officials, “become so popular in France that the country is now regarded as second only to the USA in terms of practitioners (approximately one million) and the organization of competitions.”
But the Red Bull BC One is not the first time that the energy drink behemoth has brought Hip Hop culture to the mainstream.
A few weeks ago, The Red Bull Music 3Style took place, which boasted itself as the “world’s largest DJ competition,” and for good reason. Featuring competitors from all over the world, this year’s 3Style was hosted in the luxurious city of Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, in the equally-impressive W Hotel Taipei, where the music began pumping as the sun began to set on the Shilin Market, and the throbbing bass carried all the way through the SongShan District until sunrise the next morning.
More than 1200 aspiring crate-masters were gunning for the title of the greatest DJ in the world, and they had such interesting luminaries as DJ Jazzy Jeff, Skratch Bastid, DJ Craze, Nina Las Vegas, and DJ Nu-Mark serving as the judges of their skills.
And when it was all over, only one could emerge victoriously: DJ J Espinosa, a native of San Francisco who is also the hometown DJ for the Oakland Raiders and a veteran 3Style winner. Espinosa, who took home the title in 2015 and 2018, said that this year’s win feels much different from his previous victories.
“I learned a lot from my mistakes in 2015, so this year I went back to the drawing board and worked hard to improve my set. It was an amazing experience performing in Taipei and being able to play music that represented my hometown: the Bay Area,” he tells HipHopDX.
For Espinosa, being from “The Bay” wasn’t just about spinning records and mixing the sound. Hip Hop, he said, was just as important to incorporate in his distinctive, award-winning sound.
“The DJs I grew up listening to for sure have influenced the way I DJ, as well as our Bay Area Hip Hop scene,” he said. “I think I’ve taken bits of every style I’m a fan of. Bay Area radio DJs were always so clean. Flawless mixing on the radio. L.A. DJs were always known to be technically really dope, so I wanted some of that too. I used to watch DJ Qbert videos also, even though he was light years ahead of me with scratching, I would dream about having dope cuts like him.”
The good news, of course, is that Espinosa brought forth the “dope cuts” in quantity — enough to impress the not-easily-impressed judges! 3Style, and Red Bull, aimed to push DJ culture forward and champion the fun of throwing the best parties — and they delivered on that promise.
This is the third time that Espinosa took home the title from the energy drink company, but Espinosa said that he became a DJ by accident. With an original intent to become a BMX biker — though sidelined because of “ingrown toenails” — Espinosa doesn’t look at the Red Bull win as the be-all and end-all.
Rather, he looks at it as a chance to pursue his real passions — one that involves him being on his toes, which have healed from his teenage years.
“I actually just came on the BMX bike of my dreams (1999 GT Speed Series),” he said, “so next is getting this bike fixed up, and now that my toes are all good I’m going to go ride my bike!”
Follow DJ J Espinosa on Instagram at @DJJEspinosa.