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By: Remel London

4 Stages, 4 sounds and 1 winner is an understatement for one of THE BIGGEST music events of the year! If you don’t know what music culture is about, listen up as I am about to re-cap on the official Red Bull Culture Clash 2014!

4 Stages, 4 sounds and 1 winner is an understatement for one of THE BIGGEST music events of the year! If you don’t know what music culture is about, listen up as I am about to re-cap on the official Red Bull Culture Clash 2014! 

The atmosphere was absolutely insane as soon as I walked into West London’s iconic Earl’s Court arena. Fans came in every shape, size and even the celebrity form, as, joining the 20,000 sell-out crowd, were supermodel Jourdan Dunn, Alexandra Burke, Katy B and Wretch 32 just to name a few, with Emeli Sande and Naughty Boy cheering on at the side of the REBEL SOUND stage. It was possibly the perfect week for a night of live music as the half-term teenage fanatics eagerly awaited from as early as 9am for the battles to begin. I soon realised that I was maybe a little under dressed as floods of fans wore their ‘MAN DEM’, ‘IT’S BAIT’, ‘LORD OF THE MICS’ or REBEL SOUND’ Jumpers, T-shirts and bandana’s. Epic Fail on my part, but hey I was just there to not take any sides but just soak in the good vibes – and, trust me, there was plenty to soak in!

The Clash was hosted by the beautiful sound Queen that is DJ Annie Mac and comedian Doc Brown, who both perfectly introduced the show and kept us well informed throughout the night and even kept us in check when the crowd AND crews got a little too rowdy! TOO RIGHT LOVE!!!

The stages were aligned in each corner of the room. To be honest I got lost several times, because as soon as you turn around to follow the sound you're super gassed to see, you simply just don’t know where to look or turn anymore; but from my angle, the reigning Champs BOY BETTER KNOW (BBK) were situated on the left-hand side of the room next to the host’s main stage, and adjacent was the legendary Kingston Jamaica Sound Boys STONE LOVE. Opposite was the new skool sound controllers REBEL SOUND and to their right was A$AP MOB.

Now we know who we’re dealing with, so it’s only right that we get cracking with the official Clash Rounds!

Opening the PRESSURE DROP round, which I can only describe as the taster round was of course the Reigning Champion’s from 2012’s Wembley Arena Clash, BOY BETTER KNOW! They performed some of the very best of Grime from their heavyweight line up Skepta, JME, Wiley, Jammer, Frisco, Shorty, Solo 45 and DJ Maximum. It was so good to see the boys on stage representing the UK grime culture and getting so much love from their loyal fans in their corner.

STONE LOVE arrived with flags in hand as Wee Pow, Diamond, Billy Slaughter, Dee Pow and Shelly Belly dropped some knowledge on the predominantly young crowd. They played some of the very best West Indian and Caribbean culture, which unfortunately got mixed reactions. I put it down to it being “BIG PEOPLE MUSIC”. The kids just weren’t ready for the sounds of STONE LOVE, I saw quite a few teens shaking their heads in confusion and even a few left the arena here and there as they saw this as an opportunity to hit the bar or a toilet break, but regardless the veterans and supporters were definitely representing for their sound and brought out the UK’s Dancehall man of the moment Stylo G, who saved them a little bit, but Jheeze it was a tough crowd.

Rebel Sound came in STRONG with a message from the LEGEND that is Sir Trevor McDonald who introduced the team featuring Chase & Status, Rage, David Rodigan and Shy FX. HONESTLY the WHOLE ARENA was gob smacked and we instantly knew Rebel Sound were there to make some serious noise! They hit the arena hard with the dirtiest baselines and turned it up a notch!

And last but not least to be welcomed to the stage was the A$AP MOB featuring the New York boys A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Twelvy, A$AP Nast and A$AP Ant. Now if you don’t know about A$AP Rocky, he’s known for being quite the fashionista, so it was only right that he entered in true Rock Star fashion, on a huge Quad Bike with lots of Pyrotechnics and the Mob right behind him and seriously the Arena went WILD! Considering they were on UK soil, there was a lot of A$AP love and they catered to the crowd with all of their big hits! Which was a bit risky, as we were all left wondering, how will they top this? Well that’s the thing, you see they couldn’t!

Rebel Sound were the winner for Round One, so it was really time for everyone to step it up a level!

Round 2 upped the stakes in the THE SELECTOR round, which allowed any crew to drop any sound in their 15 minute allocation.

This was a huge moment for BBK and their DJ Maximum, as this round is all about the knowledge and getting the crowd going. So it was time to bring out their special guests! They brought out Lethal Bizzle, D Double E and new comer and recent MOBO award winner for best Grime artist Stormzy to SHUT DOWN the stage and that’s exactly what they did. The crowd went absolutely mental and it proved to be a tough act for Rebel sound to clash at that point.

However, Rebel Sound did create one of the most controversial moments at the event during this round, as they brought out none other than BOY BETTER KNOW’s mate Tempa T to the stage. Now this was even before the SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY round even got a chance to kick in, as  Tempa T was prepped and loaded with this memorable one liner, “In a Red Bull Clash they’re not my G’s!” referring to his friends and, yes, his G’s BBK. It seems like the cut for Tempa T, who is featured on Chase and Status’ album, was a lot more promising than friendship with BBK lol.

The look on the BBK members faces were priceless and to be honest I think the fact that Tempa T chose to side with the REBELS and “Snaked” BBK, was a bonus for the BOY BETTER KNOW crew. The loyal fans sided with BBK who took the win for round 2.

So I’m guessing you’re wondering what A$AP and STONE LOVE brought to the table at this point… well not much as from then onwards we kind of knew it was a REBEL vs BBK showdown, which was a huge turn around, considering in the lead up to the event most people money was on BBK vs ASAP, but this is the beauty of Clashing ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

As mentioned, the SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY round was bound to be a little bit sticky, but REBEL SOUND were just getting started and dusted off possibly THE BEST dub plates I’ve heard! NO- ONE and I say NO- ONE was ready for the Emeli Sande DUBS!

Red Bull Culture Clash Crowd shot from Rebel Sound stage

Round 3 was the opportunity for the crews to really piss each other off by playing each other’s style of music. REBEL SOUND decided to target BBK and wanted to disrespect the ENTIRE Grime scene by teaming up with BBC THREE’s favorite comedy MC’s from KURUPT FM. The KURUPT FM crew should have had their own stage as their Dub Plate was epic, but no that was not all. REBEL introduced a new creative twist with an Emeli Sande re-fi x of Heaven on top of one the grime scene’s biggest underground riddims Pulse X. Emeli definitely got grimy as she cursed out all of the crews and still kept it cute lol.

To add salt to the wounds they also had yet another UK Grime star Ghetts dissing BBK, and King Pusha T took it to the streets on fellow American’s A$AP MOB. Unfortunately A$AP were in a little too deep and decided instead of clashing, they would have a party on stage with the David Rodigan critiqued ‘GO-GO Dancers’ and NO DUB PLATES. It was an awful shame that they weren’t as prepared as we hoped but it looked like they had a DAMN good time ha-ha.

BBK gave all that they could with a David Rodigan throwback, shaming him with an old recording of his love of Peter Andre’s pop hit Mysterious girl. Rodigan was left blushing, but it wasn’t enough to compete with the Dubs and the winner of round 3 REBEL SOUND.

Meanwhile, A$AP and STONE LOVE knew they didn’t stand a chance of winning so the party and tunes were played in vein. However, next up was a round that could bring the upmost respect on the night… ARMAGEDDON!

Round 4 is all about dropping it like it’s hot and I mean the never before heard kind of SUPER HOT, as the Crews take turns to play the biggest tunes in their bags! Every track played must be original… No Pressure guys!

A$AP MOB were up first and like I said it seemed like they used it as their warm up concert for their European tour as they were testing the waters and it was too deep! However they did bring out Detroit rapper Danny Brown, which left a lot of fans clueless, but looked like so much fun and they aimed to turn it up a notch with House of Pain’ s Everlast for a A$AP remix which of course was never before heard or even imagined.

BBK did not let the fans down as they brought out the biggest rap duo to hit the country, Krept and Konan, who performed the most EPIC rendition of their Don’t Waste My Time Hit, with a diss for STONE LOVE a.k.a Stone Age as Skepta likes to call them now, REBEL SOUND and A$AP MOB.

STONE LOVE gave another good shot, but I would be lying if I said it was in the same league, as the other crews. Rebel Sound played an epic Dub by none other than Rihanna who let her potty mouth run wild when insulting REBEL SOUND and BBK yet again.

REBEL definitely brought the dubs to the table and laid them out on the most expensive plates I presume! It all came down to the biggest sounds and the best stage presence on the night. Although BBK represented team UK in full force, REBEL SOUND took 3 out of 4 rounds and reaped the rewards by winning over a new crowd with their legendary status, some damn good connections and Major Clash Experience!

The Red Bull Culture Clash truly represented the Sound System culture, the energy and vibe topped most festivals, carnivals and concerts this year and those that missed out missed a TRULY historic moment.

It was an absolute pleasure being in the thick of it and seeing what Disorder the sound systems could really cause in London. Congratulations to the Crews the teams and RED BULL UK!

Words by: Remel London