The sound clash is one of Jamaica’s oldest forms of musical entertainment. The art originated in the late 1950s in downtown Kingston. Accordingly, the clash consisted of neighbourhood crews using music to battle for the crowd’s adoration. Sponsored by Ray & Nephew, the Echoes of Sound System clash series highlights the importance of Jamaica’s dancehall culture.
Juggling and Mixing Ability Round 1
MC Badda Bling hosted the event. Round one featured sound systems Nexxt Level and DJ Yumi High-Power. Both Disc Jockeys donned black, ready for war. First up in the clash was DJ Yumi High Power alongside MC Zaza. “You know we come to beat and teach,” Mc Zaza said before playing her first tune “, Peaceful woman,” by Marcia Griffiths. DJ Yumi’s first set went on to include hits such as “A woman is like a shadow” by the Meditations, “Hard man fi dead” by Prince Buster, and dubplates from Buju and Rankin Pumpkin, to name a few.
Nexxt Level took the stage and was full of energy from start to finish. Their set began with a Rocksteady song titled” Leave me alone” by Stanley Beckford of Stanley and the Turbines. The set included classics such as “My boy lollipop” by Milli Small. They also played “I wanna hear the story” by Grace Thrillers. Their dubplates included Dawn Penn, Vybz Kartel, and the grammy kid Shabba Ranks.
After round one, the judges, including Admiral Bailey, Skatta Burrell, Jack Scorpio, gave their feedback on both “sounds” performance and song selection.
Round 2 challenge, 5 songs each from studio one production
MC Zaza walked on stage with a chalkboard, showing her determination to take Nexxt Level to school. Props have always been a staple in the dancehall sound clash; therefore, this gesture from DJ Yumi and MC Zaza gained some points. “1954, respect to Sir Coxsone Dodd.” MC Zaza said before her first tune for round two. “Throw me corn” by Larry Marshall came booming through the speakers, which had those in the crowd cheering while singing along. Banana man’s” Charge you fi murder” followed, then Marcia Griffiths’ “Melody life”, and Sugar Minott’s “Vanity”. “And now we have to call on the crown prince of reggae Dennis Brown, kick it off”, followed by Brown’s hit “make it easy on yourself”.
Nexxt level returned to the stage for their segment. The sound system’s set began with the Heptones’s “I’ve got the handle”. “You taking me to history class, I am taking you to university. This is dancehall university,” Next Level’s MC said, then played the Heptones’ “Book of rules”. Dennis Brown’s “no man is an island”, Gregory Isaac’s “My number one”, and the great Bob Andy’s “Too experience” played before the completion of the second round.
Third and final round – Tune fi tune
The third and final round saw both DJs going dub for dub with a total of nine songs each. DJ Yumi reached into her arsenal for dubs. She featured Culture, John Holt, and Daddy Uroy’s “Have Mercy” to close her segment. Nexxt level would not ease up and kept bringing the pressure with their arsenal of dubplates. Their set included hits by Freddie McGregor, “Freedom is a must”, and Third world’s “Now that we found love”.
The winner of the clash stayed true to the essence of a dancehall clash. In the end, DJ Yumi and MC Zaza were no match for Next Level’s energy and song selection. I can guarantee that Echoes of Sound System only gets better from here. Stay tuned for the next clash to come.