By Constantine Martin
Artist Wallz Baba placed first in this year’s Battle of the Bands event, naming him the opener for University of Maryland’s upcoming Art Attack XXXV on May 4.
Battle of the Bands is a two-day competition that selects an opening act to perform at Art Attack, an annual concert headlined by a well-known artist. Both events are hosted by Student Entertainment Events (SEE).
Six carefully-selected contestants performed in the first round March 12 — and the three best artists competed the following day, March 13, for the ultimate prize.
“We had about 30 applications this year, which was a lot for us to listen through, especially when only six can make it to the next round,” SEE Musical Arts Director Amanda Ferreira said.
A panel of four judges, comprised of SEE directors and a University of Maryland, Baltimore County (WMBC) radio station representative, selected each round of winners.
“We use the same criteria of what we base the applicants on: band cohesion, technical skill, creativity and music appeal,” Ferreira said. “With live rounds, it really is their energy, and how they perform.”
Wallz Baba, whose real name is Moses Fatola, performed songs from his mixtape, “A F R O,” which was released in November. Despite having applied for the past three years, Baba said this was his first time being selected for the competition.
“It definitely feels good,” he said, referring to his win. “I know there’s a lot of work I have to put in to perform in front of many more people, but I think I’ve really got it.”
Baba said he doesn’t confine his music to a singular style, rather he makes interesting and captivating music that he believes draws people in.
“It encompases a lot of genres,” he said. “You can just hear it, and you want to listen to the whole [song].”
Six solo artists and groups were originally chosen to compete: Wallz Baba, Joe Garner and The Produce Section, syl, aj iaN, Al Maralen and RXN|N. Wallz Baba, syl and Al Maralen moved on to the final round.
syl, whose real name is Sarah Lee, said that she and her producer, Elie Rizk, had never performed on a stage with such an “elaborate setup” before.
“We usually play acoustic sets,” said Rizk. “This is our first time doing a legitimate production.”
Most of the fans filtered toward the front of the Baltimore Room in Stamp to watch the show, with Baba receiving a large celebration after being selected as the winner.
“I’m excited, I’m happy, I want to go celebrate,” Baba said.
“I was curious to see how good the student artists would be,” senior marketing major Mohil Gupta, adding that Wallz Baba was his favorite.
You can find Wallz Baba’s music on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and all major streaming platforms.