Saturday 27th April 2013 / The City Suite leicester
For weeks I have been talking about UK’s “Winner Takes All” sound clash competition on Sound Chat radio. The event was billed as a premiere competition to grant upcoming UK sounds a 3000 pound cash prize and a platform to showcase their talent both locally and internationally. It featured 6 UK sounds and was held in a neutral city. It was won by JAHMAN NUCLEAR. The audio will be released soon (note: audio will be misleading, the video will tell the true story) so there’s NO reason for me to give you a round by round play by play of the clash, so I will just give you my opinion and brief description of the setting. I will start off with what impressed me the most… Sadly it was NOT the selections of music or any of the many performances. It was the support from clash fans. It’s really been a long, long time, since I’ve seen young sounds prove to have a strong fan base. Many of the sounds showed up with bus loads of supporters. I am talking huge buses that seat about 70 people — filled to the max. It was nice to see clash fans marching toward the venue yelling and carrying on in the name of sound clashing. It was a sight to see ( I have video footage of this). Supporters brought their tickets and took their positions in the venue. Before you knew it, the venue was FULL.
I was also impressed that the winner of “Winner Takes All,” JAHMAN NUCLEAR, took the “tune-fi-tune” round 10 to 0 without playing commercial dubs. They played big foundation tunes that got huge forwards from the whole audience. It was something that i have not seen an upcoming sound do before. Most young sounds play it safe by competing in the last lap with commercial selections that they know the crowd will surely forward. What disappointed me? Honestly! With NO disrespect to the young sound system fraternity in the UK…everything!! Their performances showed that they are not ready to compete on a larger level, and it worries me. The UK is said to be the leading country when it comes to strong solid dancehall and reggae music. Therefore, I was expecting to hear some solid selections, but they were far and few played. The UK sounds I saw in this competition lacked performance, presentation, speech, crowd control, etc. They were all over the place! None played smart. None paced themselves. They ALL played up and down, cursed and yelled on the mic and could not keep a vibe going for long. Truly, if it wasn’t for the fact that most of these sounds brought their fans, very few of them could make it pass second round. Don’t get me wrong! Each sound had a moment or two when they had a vibe going, but keeping it up round by round posed to be a problem for them.
I am aware that many people will view this blog as me, Chin, dissing UK sounds, but someone has to be truthful or things will never change. Besides, if I am from America and I often state that the young sounds in the US are also failing to deliver the needed energy to keep the tradition of exciting sound competitions alive, then why would I be afraid to address the issues surrounding UK sounds?
In closing, I’m begging young sounds to study the craft of sound clashing. Research the strengths and weakness of those who became famous in the international sound clash arena. Study their talents, their selections, and their approach to the art of battle. I’m not saying to live in the past, but I am saying “The more things change.. is the more they stay the same.” The art of sound clashing has basic principles that will never change. Once young sounds get an understanding of these basic principles they can move forward by adding their own twist, which will then make them unique. Without the basics, one will not get far in the game of sound clashing.
I have to say…Congratulations to JAHMAN NUCLEAR. And I thank the UK for having me host this important competition.