For the second straight year, local DJs will spin to win at Intellectual Ratchet’s Player’s Ball.

Thursday night at The Sett inside Union South, DJ Mando and DJ Boyfrrriend will each spin three sets, and three local judges will crown the winner. Admission is free.

“We like to give a talented artist a chance to shine,” says Intellectual Ratchet founder Ja’Mel Ware. “People love DJs. People love to dance. We want to give people a place where they can dance to hip hop music, support the DJs that they love, and an opportunity for these artists to show off their skills, and really just to have some bragging rights.”

These two already have some bragging rights, as the top two from last year’s event, which featured six local DJs, with DJ Mando taking the top prize — but just barely.

“That was so close last year. We should’ve went into overtime, to be honest,” Ware says. “That’s how close it was. So, we are now giving this another shot, because we know that Boyfrrriend has some amazing skills, and her fanbase is huge. And we wanted to give her a second chance, to go at DJ Mando again, to try to win that title. And this year, to make it easier, since it was so close last year, we’re gonna bring in those three special judges, and put it all on them.”

Those judges include radio personality Maria Lopez of 93.1 and La Movida, Wisconsin Union president Iffa Bhuiyan and Madion365 reporter Jordan Gaines.

Beginning at 8 pm, the DJs will each perform three 20-minute sets: Round one will be early 2000’s and 90’s hip hop, round two will feature trap and today’s hip hop, and round three will be exclusive DJ cuts and remixes.

The Player’s Ball is intended to be an open community event.

“It’s an open event. It’s open to the public. It’s a free event,” Ware says. “I don’t like the idea of charging people to come and have a good time. Is it necessary? Sometimes, yes. But if we can do it free of charge, that’s the way we’re gonna do it. We have a wonderful sponsorship and partnership with the Wisconsin Union, and with their help we are able to do the majority of the things we do through our partnership, free of charge. And we hope to keep it like that.”

The main purpose of the event is to show everyone a good time, but it’s also about celebrating a much-maligned genre of music.

“The people of Madison love hip hop. The business owners of Madison, not so much,” Ware says. I do not think that there are enough opportunities to hear hip hop in the city, outside of the block of State Street that’s closer to the campus. There are clearly different hip hop demographics. One are the young professionals at IR, our main demographic. And the other subset would be the students of color on the UW campus. So, there aren’t many places for those students to go, and listen to hip hop in environments that they feel welcome and safe in, that aren’t run over by frat boys, just for lack of better demographic.”

The event will also feature a performance by gospel / rap artist K Sankofa, a UW student recently featured in Madison365.

Doors open at 7 pm Thursday, December 7.

“Come out. Have a good time,” Ware says. “The Union is a great place to be.”