Red Bull Music Academy: Culture Clash

Metalheadz, Digital Mystikz, Trojan and Soul II Soul

Culture clash? Let’s peg out the camps.

Junglists – velcro Lacostes – no socks, Moschino print pyjama bottoms and matching shirts, with one black Nike glove with rings on the outside.

Reggae crew – bunched up honkylocks, chunky knitwear and Wray & Nephew in a plastic cup.

The Soul II Soul system haven’t been out in a while, but there was a time when their AV1 flight jackets, Stay Press slacks and funky dread crop ruled the roost.

Dubstep’s a tough one, and for an older head there’s just no telling what’s down with the kids.

Roundhouse had these generations all together in one venue, four pounding rigs set around the circular arena – Metalheadz, Digital Mystikz, Trojan and Soul II Soul. Not since the Wild Bunch clashed with Newtrament in West London or when Kenny Ken walked away from that boxing ring with a heavyweight belt at Jungle Soundclash ’94 had there been such hype, politics and drama surrounding one single event.

Red Bull had equipped the event with some of the most nose-itching bass and pant-wetting selectors to ever grace a rig, and from the gig’s start the place was getting rammed out. Trojan smoothed any pre-clash nerves with Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own and some Delroy Wilson, and then everyone wheeled round to see Goldie’s old mucker Storm begin proceedings with John B’s anthem Up All Night. It was odd seeing people shocking out to Metalheadz’ [frightening] bass rig having been shuffling around to reggae love songs a seconds earlier, but the mix worked.

Next was DMZ’s turn, and this is when the drama started. After young Coki committed the schoolboy error of messing up the mix out of his beautiful Sizzla Dry Cry remix, MC Sgt Pokes got on the mic: “It’s nice to hear all that jungle, that old stuff. I feel bad here, ’cause we’re murdering the elderly. All the others sounds are shit.” This was enough to spark off a serious confrontation between DMZ and Metalheadz, that saw GQ administer them a severe ticking off in the next round: “Digital – don’t let me hear you saying that any of the other sounds are shit. You wouldn’t be around without sounds like Trojan, who came with dubwise, and as for Soul II Soul, I was hitting their nights in the Africa Centre when you were in your nappies bruv, so show respect.”

Then when jungle turncoat DJ Zinc appeared at the dubstep rig tempers looked set to explode. “What are you doing over there!” bellowed GQ furiously from across the Roundhouse, as Zinc disappeared sheepishly behind a speaker.

Jazzie B turned up armed with 16 dubplates, the most memorable being one being a Shabba Ranks record and another by Gregory Isaacs. Andy C and Goldie got the crowd rocking to Bad Company’s Nitrous, Taktix’s The Way, and Capone’s Tudor Rose before DMZ pulled the carpet away by claiming they were too ‘One Nation’ and played some more obscure rollers. Soul II Soul were many’s favourite, playing some diaphragm-puncturing industrial hip hop and funk, while Trojan kept the atmosphere warm and easy as Superfour struck a singular figure on stage with goofy front teeth, raffish bandanna and blind man’s stick.

In terms of unbridled competition, a gag-reflex sound system and incredible span and quality of urban music, Clash had never seen anything like it. Metalheadz won – Goldie danced a jig while Mala kissed his teeth – but it didn’t matter. The Roundhouse got a night that will live on in b-boy lore for years to come.

Words by Miguel Cullen

View an accompanying gallery HERE and find out more about Red Bull Music Academy HERE.

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