Queens, NY - Fútbol (soccer) fans have the World Cup. American football fans have the Super Bowl. The millions of sound clash fans worldwide, however, have World Clash. Some may say sound clash culture is on life support or nonexistent, but do not say that to the 3,000+ patrons who packed Club Amazura in Queens, NYC by 11:59pm on Saturday April 7th. By the look of it, Irish and Chin's World Clash 2012 tickets were completely sold out and the thousands of clash fans in Amazura came to get their money's worth. With seven sound systems on the bill and a barrel full of back-stories, the fans witnessed David Rodigan chug along for three rounds only to demolish his contenders in the final two rounds. But before we get to the drama, we all need to be on the same page. So refer back to Reggae 101: Sound Systems – The "Big Bang" of Reggae Culture, to understand how this clash thing works.
The clash was five rounds long and lasted from about midnight to 5:00am the next morning. The buzz surrounding this clash was immense, because World Clash had been absent for the past six years, leaving a void in a rich sound clash culture throughout the whole Northern Hemisphere. Incidentally, when the clash began it was as if it had never left. The standing-room-only crowd shuffled as close as they could get to the stage and stood attentively for the next five hours without pause.
The first round was pretty typical with familiar sounds playing familiar dubplates—customized songs replacing original lyrics with lyrics promoting the respective sound. Since there was no risk of elimination, it seemed as though the sounds played more defensively than anything else. With that, we will skip to the other rounds where a sound's average showing had higher risks–elimination.
The second round started the more significant portion of the clash. It kicked off with David Rodigan, who began the second round with an average line-up of dubplates that proved to be effective enough to keep him in the clash. Rodigan seemed to do just enough in the second and third rounds to keep himself relevant until the fourth and fifth rounds. During the fourth and fifth rounds, Rodigan started to sound like vintage Rodigan where he would intro his dubplates with lengthy explanations of how the dubplate was cut, who produced it, and why you ought to know those two facts. This served to energize the crowd leading into each tune he played... not to mention his cool little Englishman jig that came with every other dubplate he played.
The only casualty after the second round was Jamaica's own Black Kat Sound System. Without their all-star clash team of Panther and Yuri, Black Kat played with little excitement. In fact, midway through their set in the second round, the new, young Black Kat selector all but admitted defeat and asked the crowd to bear with him as he developed as a clash DJ. He insisted that we "all had to start somewhere." The crowd was not in a sympathetic mood, however, and Black Kat was the first to get the boot.
Fire Links, former emcee of the famed Bodyguard Sound System, did not disappoint. He played dubplates with a type of continuity that was reminiscent of his more formidable clash days while on Bodyguard. Fire Links' enthusiasm alone could not keep him in the clash, though. During the third and fourth round, Links had trouble gaining momentum with the crowd. And by the time he got the crowd in his favor, other sounds had already made their impression on the crowd and secured a spot in the next round.
Not to be outdone, Earth Ruler followed Fire Links with arguably the strongest second round performance among all other sound systems. Earth Ruler Sound System, the only sound representing New York City, highlighted their history of turning the NYC clash scene on its head for the past two decades. They rinsed dubplates that have been popular among clash fans since fellas used to wear Kangol hats and matching Travel Fox shoes in the late 1980's. Unfortunately for Earth Ruler, the second round was pretty much the only round in which they wowed the crowd. They eventually got booted after the third round along with Poison Dart.
Poison Dart was the only other sound representing the U.S. With all due respect to Poison Dart, though, it was clear at the beginning of the third round that they would not last much longer. Poison Dart had a good second round showing but began losing momentum after they shifted their focus from pleasing the crowd to wasting time to counteract what had been said about them by the other sounds. If a sound was going to win the clash, they would have to focus on the crowd and avoid the being drawn into the bad mouthing from other sounds. Speaking of bad mouthing, what World Clash would be complete without the crowd favorite, Tony Matterhorn?
Matterhorn was the favorite to win it all in most barbershop conversations leading up to World Clash. Why, you ask? Well, Matterhorn is a veteran of sound clashes and used to play for the Brooklyn sound clashing machine, Addies International Sound System. However, even with the star-studded dubplates he had in his back pocket, including a dubplate version of Rhianna's "We Found Love," Matterhorn could not overcome what David Rodigan and Bass Odyssey had in store.
Bass Odyssey "from waaay out... in the country," lost one of the greatest sound clash DJs to ever walk across a World Clash stage—Kevin "Squingy" Bennett. Although without Squingy, Bass Odyssey's show definitely went on. In fact, Bass Odyssey was the front-runner coming into the final round. Which brings us to how it all ended.
When the capacity crowd decided Bass Odyssey and David Rodigan would move on to the final, tune-for-tune round, Bass Odyssey seemed poised and ready to take home the trophy. It should be noted that about 90% of the original audience was still in the building when the final round began at about 4:45am. Impressive. The clash was Bass Odyssey's to lose, and they did just that. Bass Odyssey gained a 3-0 lead over Rodigan in the final round, but misfired on their fourth dubplate response to David Rodigan's heavy Super Cat dubplate. Rodigan then followed with a Tenor Saw dubplate and then a Prince Buster dubplate, "Hard Man Fi Dead." Bass Odyssey fired back and managed to scrape together two more points. In the end, however, the Englishman was too much to handle. Bass Odyssey also helped Rodigan by playing a Garnett Silk dubplate that was played earlier in the clash. For those of you who may be unaware, by the way, replaying a dubplate is the NUMBER ONE cardinal sin of ANY sound clash. Eventually the Garnett Silk replay proved to be the nail in the coffin for Bass Odyssey and David Rodigan brought the trophy home for his first World Clash victory ever.
What a night!
Source: Inityweekly.com, Writer Shomari Ward