Sweet Spot With Mike Sugerman: Beatboxing, The New York City Sound Heard Around The World

Mike Sugerman
December 20, 2019 - 5:00 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Beatboxing is an art form invented in Harlem back in the 1980s by Doug E. Fresh, also known as the "Human Beat Box."

It was born at a time when drum machines were out of price range for many people, so they made the noises themselves, turning into the human instrument.

"From there it's become an international phenomenon," said Kaila Mullady, two-time winner of the Beatbox Battle World Championship. "We've been to the World Beatbox Championships where literally every single continent, every country from around the world has picked up this New York City art form."

Recently, the 10th Annual American Beatbox Championships were held in Brooklyn, where the U.S. representative was chosen for the World Championships to be held in Switzerland in 2020. 

The winner beatboxed out 32 others, but Mark Martin, the 2016 American Beatbox Champion, says it's a friendly competition.

"There's a trust that's built amongst beat boxers because you have to put yourself out there if you're gonna make some weird sound or you're going to do some weird face that could be scary if it doesn't land well," Martin said.

Beatboxing, which has been used in speech therapy to train muscles, is a way of life for some.

"People always tell me, 'Oh, Ethan you need to stop beat boxing you're doing it too much,'" said Ethan Faulkner, aka BalistixBBX. "Ask me to stop beat boxing is like asking me to stop breathing."

It's just another New York City export that's spread around the world.