According to the 41-year-old turntablist, he exhaustively prepped and practiced daily in the weeks leading up to the DJ battle and changed his set at least a dozen times in the process. "[I'd] been prepping for this for a month and all the hard work paid off," Akshen says.
And, apparently, so did all the whole positive thinking we mentioned earlier. In the hours before the Thre3style at the Monarch, ABC 15 aired a short feature on Akshen and the competition, which gave a glimpse inside his Valley home and some of the "reminders" he's left for himself recently, including messages like "THIS IS MY TIME" and "YOU ARE THE RED BULL 3STYLE [sic] WORLD CHAMPION!"
While he hasn't earned such a title just yet, Akshen does have a definite shot at it, as his victory this past weekend at the qualifier nabbed him a berth at the Red Bull Thre3style national finals in early April.
As you can hear for yourself via the YouTube clip above, Akshen's 15-minute set was heavy on throwbacks, old school gems, and hip-hop classics (and even features a spoken intro from his daughter, Frances). Like any of the other participants in the worldwide Thre3style DJ battle (which is dubbed a "new school DJ battle" with an emphasis on party rocking), Akshen was required to mix three distinct genres and was evaluated by a trio of judges on such criteria as crowd reaction, as well as their creativity, mixing abilities, track selection, and stage presence.
Four Color Zack, the Seattle-based DJ that served as a judge at Phoenix's regional qualifier, gave all of the competitors involved plenty of kudos for their sets in a press release sent our by Red Bull following the battle. Ultimately, however, DJ Akshen had the edge.
"[It] was absolutely insane," Four Color Zack stated. "It was really what I expected from Phoenix, a lively crowd and DJs with a lot of skills, good diversity in selection and approach to their sets. In the end, DJ Akshen took a lot of musical risks with his track selection and won the crowd over with his confidence."