Beatbox performer launches Las Vegas Beatbox Battle

The human metronome answers his own question.

“So what is a professional beat boxer?” he poses.

“It’s something like this. You ready?” he asks rhetorically.

And with that Jay R Beatbox’s mouth becomes a percussive instrument.

He begins by mimicking a series of snare rolls — crack! crack! crack! Then comes the kick drum and the downbeat — say the phrase “boots and cats” focusing only on the consonants if you want to try along at home — followed by swiftly enunciating the letter ‘T,’ which approximates the chatter of a hi-hat.

Beatbox rolls them all into a nimble-tongued rhythmic bed, his hands slicing the air, punctuating the beat, as he gives an impromptu demonstration of how he earned his surname.

A beatbox ambassador

“To this day, that’s one of my intros,” says Beatbox, a linebacker-sized presence in a black ball cap and matching T-shirt. “Then the first thing that comes after that is, ‘Oh, you sound like the guy from ‘Police Academy.’ ”

A woman sitting across from Beatbox at the PublicUs cafe downtown giggles in agreement upon overhearing that last line.

While beatboxing dates back to the dawn of hip-hop, and was a staple in the repertoire of ’80s rap favorites such as the Fat Boys and Biz Markie, it’s not featured as prominently or regularly as it once was.

This is where Beatbox comes in.

He’s something of a local ambassador for the art form — one of the rare performers of his ilk who can actually make a living at it — having played Life is Beautiful, opened for the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and Jazzy Jeff, jammed with rock bands and done innumerable private corporate and convention gigs.

Ready for battle

Now, he’s taking things farther with the inaugural Las Vegas Beatbox Battle, where nearly two dozen competitors from the region will vie for a $1,000 grand prize.

The first of what is intended to be an annual, all-ages event takes place from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Downtown Container Park.

The competition is a culmination of years dedicated to the craft for Beatbox, the 31-year-old son of professional boxer and former Olympian Jorge Amparo (Beatbox’s given name is Jorge Amparo Jr. His stage handle, Jay R, represents the “J” and “R” in Jr.)

Beginning at age 15, Amparo taught himself how to beatbox with the aid of a now-defunct peer-to-peer file-sharing service.

“All I had was Limewire and a bad computer,” he says. “I used to wait hours on two or three different tracks to download.”

He was particularly enamored with “If Your Mother Only Knew,” a cut from former Roots member and beatboxing titan Rahzel.

“I was like, ‘How does he say, “If your mother only knew” and do the beat at the same time?’ ” Amparo recalls.

He’d eventually master the tune.

“You learn that, and everything else comes easy,” Amparo says.

‘You live it’

To be a legit beatboxer requires the hip-hop equivalent of a singer’s perfect pitch, the ability to discern a given musical note by ear.

Amparo possesses a similar trait, albeit rhythmically.

He honed the skill by challenging himself to discern a song’s BPM (beats per minute) within five seconds of hearing it.

“That was the test for me growing up, ‘How quickly can I pick it up? How quickly can I hop on a beat and start riding it?’ ” he says.

Nowadays, it’s all become second nature for Amparo — even while immersed in conversation, he can swiftly pick up the beat to the song playing in the background on the cafe’s stereo system.

“I’m always, in my head, always listening to different sounds,” he says.

It’s not something he can just turn off.

“You can’t,” he says. “You live it.”

He takes a beat.

“You learn to live it.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

Entertainment
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita
Celebrate Margarita Day With The Hot Damn Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Yard House margarita changes color in the glass
The cocktail, as made by lead bartender Taylor Cole at Town Square in Las Vegas, changes from deep blue to magenta because of a chemical reaction between its butterfly pea flowers and citrus agave. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Black History Month Festival
Las Vegas residents gathered on Saturday, February 16, 2019, at Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd, to celebrate Black History Month. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
You Can Design With 3D Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum
You Can Design With 3d Printers, Laser Cutters And Ceramics At Discovery Children's Museum (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Champagne vending machine at Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas
One of only a few in the country, the Moët & Chandon machine at the Waldorf Astoria in Las Vegas is stocked with Imperial Rose for Valentine’s Day. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas Valentine’s Day desserts
Mio Ogasawara of Sweets Raku and Rebecca Bills of Gen3 Hospitality in Las Vegas create elaborate Valentine’s Day desserts. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
One Night For One Drop
Cirque du Soleil cast and crew donate their time and talent to this year's "One Night For One Drop" performance at the "O" Theatre in the Bellagio. The event takes place March 8, 2019, and benefits the One Drop organization. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Chinese New Year Parade
Chinese New Year parade takes place on Fremont Street. (Bill Hughes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Manzo restaurant a key part of Eataly
Nicole Brisson, executive chef of Eataly, at Park MGM in Las Vegas, talks about new restaurant.
Designer Makes Festival-style Crowns
Designer at MAGIC trade show Makes Festival-style Crowns (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Excalibur Raises tent that will house "Fuerza Bruta" show
Workers at Excalibur raised a tent, which will be the home of "Fuerza Bruta," a temporary show that will run from March 7 to September 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roc Boots Make For Glittery Festival Wear
With 3-inch-tall chunky heels, cleated platforms, and sparkly glitter, you’ll want to wear these to dance the night away. Sally Cull, product and development for Roc Boots Australia, assures you that you can. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Get A Custom-painted Jacket At Las Vegas Fashion Event
On the first of the two-night Commotion event, clothing brands connected with consumers, offering shopping, giveaways and customization opportunities. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian Celebrates The "Year Of The Pig"
The Venetian hosted dancers to celebrate the Chinese New Year and "Year of the Pig." The dancers performed a traditional eye-dotting ceremony and lion dance. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Pepe the truffle-hunting dog
Jose Andres knows that quality black truffles can also be found in his native Spain. He’ll be sharing some with the world for a week, starting Monday. From Feb. 11-17, his Cosmopolitan restaurant Jaleo will be showcasing four special dishes made with Spanish truffles discovered by the truffle-hunting dogs of his friend Nacho Ramírez Monfort. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Abou-Ganim mixes drink at Libertine Social
Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist, helped change the cocktail culture in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masaharu Morimoto talks ramen in Las Vegas
Masaharu Morimoto talks about bringing a ramen restaurant to Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morimoto considering full-time Las Vegas ramen spot
Morimoto talks about a full-time ramen spot in Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new home at Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign is working it's way to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to Neon Museum Boneyard
The famous and newly restored, Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has been moved to its permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign moves to new Las Vegas home
The famous and newly restored Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign has moved to a permanent home at the Neon Museum Boneyard in downtown Las Vegas. It will be moved in six pieces and take five days for reconstruction. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas band Otherwise release song and video in tribute to slain cousin
Adrian and Ryan Patrick, brothers in the band Otherwise with drummer Brian Medeiros, talk about the release of a tribute song to their deceased cousin Ivan. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Las Vegas residency
Artist Joshua Vides created a "White Wedding" chapel for Billy Idol's Vegas residency (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas
Try the Burning History cocktail at Zuma In Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing