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Culture Clash in my opinion [with first round vids/rest rounds audio]

First off, big up Red Bull. Bigging up the sponsors usually means this is a sponsored post. However, this isn't a sponsored post. They put on a big show and shoved 20,000 people into one place to experience Jamaican culture even if the music wasn't explicitly Jamaican. So big up Jamaica cos none of the music yesterday would exist in the way it does without it and there wouldn't be a format. Jamaica changed the way music was made and consumed. Both were on full display yesterday.

Keywords: 

Dub/dubplate/special = song cut specially to either big up your sound, kill another sound or both. Most "dub plates" are pretty much extinct - they're just specials - but everyone understands the term dubs.
A$AP Flop = A$AP Mob

First round = normal juggling/playing music
Second round = hosting
Third round = Sleeping with the enemy (playing other teams genres of music)
Fourth round = dub for dub/five minutes to play songs

I will update the post with videos as and when they come through.

Anyway, no real long talking. Just gonna summarise my thoughts on the sounds performances. Hindsight is a wonderful thing so obviously there will be a lot of that. But yeah.

p.s. my reading of it beforehand





So to the night...

First up the immortal Stone Love. Putting it out there from the beginning - we knew they were never going to compete let alone win. Some competitors (I mean "one competitor" but we'll get onto that) were there to expose it to a wider audience, Stone Love were there for credibility. There has to be a pure Jamaican music sound. Stone Love have a reputation for mixing the genres from day, but they're a Jamaican sound first and foremost. Plus, they are legends in sound system even though they aren't really a clashing sound.



Click "read more" to read more, innit!



I think they played well considering they have never played for that demographic before (loads of ethnic majority student types). They should've explained when they opened with the Jamaican national anthem. They played some inclusive music (hip hop, grime, UK funky etc.) alongside their dancehall so clearly did their research a bit on the other side. They didn't play the right dancehall songs though. Serani "No Games", Mavado "So Special" and Mr. Vegas "I Am Blessed" are massive crossover songs that would've been good for specials. They played the original Beenie Man "Rum & Red Bull" (actually called "I'm Drinking" but who cares?), but imagine that was a special? "You're getting done at Red Bull" or something along those lines. Sounds a touch dodgy, but hey…



A main part of sound clash is a getting the crowd on your side through speech. This was always going to be hard for Stone Love - a problem made worse due to the poor mic settings. Could barely hear what my man was saying on top of the patois. They set pace with good interactive call-and-response though.



Special guest appearance from Stylo G wasn't exactly "Something you wouldn't expect" as he was introduced though. In fact, that was the most natural fit for them. And they never brought out anybody else for the whole night. Played some sick dubs from Giggs, but if they brought him out? Now that would've been something we never expected.



In conclusion: the crowd didn't know them and they didn't know the crowd. As a result, they spent a lot of time chasing the forward rather than building momentum. Changing tempos and genres, ultimately lacking fluidity. You'll see why this was key later in the post. As @djfiremansam suggested to me on Twitter, Mighty Crown next time please. They stand a chance of winning over the crowd with chat, presentation, unpredictable-but-relatable specials etc. Big up Stone Love same way.

Next up is the worst sound of the night by far. I don't care how much noise people made at the end of the round/competition, A$ap Flop (otherwise known as A$AP Mob) were an absolute embarrassment. Let me just clear up why they actually came last despite what stats may show; they brought in fans, Stone Love didn't. They were expected to deliver. And the only people cheering for them were those by their stage.



Now let's get onto why they were shit. Everyone knew they would be shit beforehand. Everyone asked "What are they doing here?" and/or "What do they know about sound clash business? They rap." And they proved everybody right. They took the clash for a discotheque. Played nothing but mp3's (once upon a time it was 45s lol) on shuffle you didn't need to hear them shout over. Oh, and one special from Sizzla. As much as I rate "Rise To The Occasion", it isn't a big Sizzla song. "Solid As A Rock" now, that would've got a reaction. And they left it to play for the 3mins duration. And let's not talk about the "Pow" Ableton-made remix with vocals probably ripped from YouTube.



A$ap Flop treated the clash as you'd expect the disrespectful, money-grabbing, hurry-come-up rappers to. Thought they could play a concert, bring through a bunch of Londoners to jump and prance on stage, some girls with their (dead) "twerking" and we'd lap it up. Wrong! Don't get me wrong, the crowd were out to have a good time so they were involved in the first minute of the first few songs of each round cos A$ap have a fan base and the right soundtrack to jumping. But ultimately, they only had their corner at the end of the round. People were walking over to the other side were BBK and Stone Love were after about the fourth song.

Their special guests were Danny Brown and Everlast of House of Pain fame. Danny Brown appeals to their crowd anyway so no real addition, House of Pain "Jump Around" went off big time! The whole crowd jumped in unison. Genuine surprise guest. Big up on that. [Listen below]



I'm not even sure I've explained how inept I think they were though. I don't really have the words. They didn't even wait on stage after their round like everybody else did, they just disappeared. Absolute disgrace. But we'll bring that back a bit later.

Second best sound was grime collective BBK (Boy Better Know). Absolute killer first round. Main thing that flopped them in the last clash was organisation and presentation. Their first round was impeccable. JME entered with "96 Fxckeries". Crowd control was tops. Skepta performed song of the clash "That's Not Me". The reaction was crazy every time (I think) every sound (except Stone Love?) played it. Even when A$ap Flop lot did some fxckeries on it. Put that one in the classics box confirmation. Jammer drawing for the Murkle suit for Murkle Man, "Too Many Man" etc. Just so hard. Great way to introduce every member of the squad. Even DJ Maximum performed.



I thought/think they peaked there, but they still delivered a strong second round. Even though I don't think they won it (I gave it to Rebel Sound), I couldn't argue against the decision. Solid line up of special guests; from young guns Stormzy and Novelist to veterans D Double E, Footsie, Flowdan, Lethal B(izzle), even Chuckle Brothers collaborator, Tinchy Stryder (on "Pied Piper"). If they didn't peak in the first, they definitely shot their bolt in that round.



Third round (Sleeping With The Enemy) was extremely poor. Spent a lot of time chatting to fill gaps when the DJ couldn't find the right songs. Completely lost their mojo.  Repped UK rap with Fekky doing "Bang" over some American hip hop instrumentals. Fourth round was much of the same. Brought out Hyper to do "Are You Really From The Ends?", and couple other bits, ending with Krept & Konan "Don't Waste My Time" which, even though they didn't remember the lyrics to their dub plate, it was a good addition. Lacked the big superstar to turn it up a notch. A So Solid, Dizzee Rascal, Kano, even Tinie Tempah or General Levy. A proper raise the roof from a classic. Maybe they should've the Newham General's, Lethal Bizzle to the last round.



Anyway, solid performance. Great to see grime on that platform. Almost 20k people losing their minds to grime is a moment in itself. And the fact BBK are still relevant to kids who weren't even teenagers when the MCs began making a name for themselves is something we should celebrate. That's culture right there.



But now, onto the winners, Rebel Sound. I wasn't supporting one sound - more team every sound except A$ap Flop. Rebel Sound were my tip though. A team consisting of d&b legend Shy FX, d&b/dubstep/electric-assortment kings Chase & Status and David Rodigan MBE (needs no introduction) has to be. No matter who brings what bus load of people, that team was always most likely to win over neutrals.

When you combine Rodigan's Jamaican contacts, knowledge and experience of clashing at the highest and truest levels with the contemporary arena sounds and UK & US phonebook of Chase & Status and Shy FX, you get exactly what happened last night. Their dubs were perfect - down to the mastering on most. Creativity shone through from the minute they signed on. Who gets Sir Trevor McDonald to do a mock news report in form of a video message cussing the other sounds? Rebel Sound, that's who. Remember that time Rodigan got an audio dub from Chris Tarrant circa Who Wants To Be A Millionaire at UK Cup Clash?



Unlike Stone Love, Rebel Sound know the crossover dancehall songs, so drew for classics General Degree "Traffic Blocking" and Beenie Man "Who Am I?" Not only that, they got customs built saying each opponents name. Chase & Status reworked a couple of their songs with customs from Cutty Ranks and Pusha T. DJ Luck & MC Neat "Little Bit of Luck" dub. "Original Nutta" dub. UK Apache is Muslim now. Understand that. They were hitting every single person in there. Riko Dan filling in for Shabba Ranks on "Shabba" aimed at A$ap Flop (no, I won't stop calling them that) as a counteraction.

Check this for example. A$ap Flop just flopped themselves, Rodigan touches mic, tells them to "Get your asses out of Harlem, cut dubplates in Flatbush and mix with some Jamaicans" (as we all thought), ending with "You didn't think about this one at all" before they play Sampha singing "Don't think about it too much… Rebel Sound will win the sound clash tonight". The chat + right song. Then said "We're gonna take it back to where it all started in Kingston, Jamaica" and played Beenie Man, General Degree, Shabba Ranks, Cutty Ranks, Ward 21, Damian Marley, Eek-A-Mouse and Max Romeo customs for the night. That's the levels. And they don't exist so every dub was done for last night. None were generic "Big up my sound" that were stocked from years ago. Understand the levels.



Rage and Rodigan dealt with the talk in separate yet cohesive ways. Rage is more a hype man style, whereas Rodigan knows how to engage with a monologue. Rodigan delivered sermon of the night in the last round. Wasn't rehearsed or pre-planned. You know them ones that sound like if you heart could speak? After paying respects to BBK and Stone Love, he GAVE it to A$ap Flop. Exposed their shoddy routine ("They played the same set in Manchester on Tuesday"), bringing go-go dancers (strippers) in a clash and total lack of respect for clash, and the people. I felt that one in my soul. Something that desperately needed to be addressed and wouldn't have felt as righteous coming from anybody else.



Dub of the night was Emeli Sande "Heaven". Started off calmly on the original. Cool. Then they got Emeli Sande to say "Fxck Skepta. Fxck Jammer…" with Pulse X under her?! Mad. Ting. Special guest of the night had to be Tempa T. He tours with Chase & Status too, but I mean, the dub of him saying "BBK, nah that's not me… In a Red Bull Clash they're not my g's" on "That's Not Me" (obviously), then he shut down the whole place with "Hypest Hype" firing shots at everyone? Insane.



I can't say what Rodigan did and didn't do, however, I know his expertise on track order, length of time a track should be played and quality control on specials (knowing where to place punchlines especially and where to drop out the beat) would've been invaluable to them. Overall presentation wins clashes. Forget the dubs, anyone can get dubs. Building momentum through sequencing, speaking at the right time and forwarding (cutting off) the song at the right time is crucial in a clash.

p.s. possibly two spliced dubs in the last round from Rebel Sound though. Rihanna and Charlie Wilson? Hmm… Still, they deserved the victory. Won every round to me. The Suggs/Madness "It Must Be Love" dub plate was sick. To think they saved that for their victory lap. They had this ting locked.

Big up Jamaica. Bun them image and hashtag rappers. Big up London. Bless.

Mighty Crown vs Rebel Sound vs Major Lazer vs BBK would be the ultimate clash of the titans.
Ok, so maybe it was a bit of long talking. It wasn't supposed to be though. Please forgive me.

Link Up TV were down there and got a quality video. Check it below.

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