The History Of Sound Clash Culture

The History Of Sound Clash Culture

The sound clash is one of the most electrifying
competitions in music. In a sound clash, DJ crews, known as “sound systems” pit their skills against each other, fighting for the crowd’s love and a place in history. Originating in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica
in the late 1950s, sound system and clash culture predates dancehall, reggae and ska. It started with sound systems pulling up on
the street, equipped with an assembly of huge speakers, turntables and mics. Their ultimate goal, outblast the neighborhood’s
other sound system. Crowds judged a sound system by music played,
how the physical sound system looked and how loud the music got. They approved with a “forward” A forward can be anything from throwing a
gun finger in the air, whistling, banging on walls, or clapping. It can even go as far as lighting things on
fire which in the context of sound clashes, is a good thing. The first reported clash was between two prominent
names in sound system history, Tom the Great Sebastian, created by Tom Wong, whom many
credit as a forefather of the scene, and Count Nick in 1952. Ex-policeman Arthur “Duke” Reid is another
icon. He ran one of the most popular sound systems
of the 1950s called Duke Reid’s the Trojan and was infamous for firing a pair of revolvers, riling up the already aggressive crowd even more In the 1980s, audience members themselves
would show appreciation for a good performance by firing guns into the air. The gunfire was later replaced by lighters
and glowing cell phones. But fans may still make hand gestures and
sounds to replicate approving gunfire. The central figure of a sound system is the
selector, who’s responsible for picking which records to play. Selectors were so revered for their choices,
they became celebs in their own right. Ainsley Grey was one of the best-known selectors
of the 1980s, leading sound systems like Killamanjaro and Stereomars to victory. Now, it wouldn’t be a sound clash if competitive
systems didn’t go at each other’s credibility, so of course sound systems brought on the
insults to gain crowd favor. Slang terms like drum pan or drum pan sound
were most commonly used in a derogatory manner. Exclusive tracks or remixes known as dubplates
were introduced into clashes by the 1980s as well, popularised by sound systems Bass
Odyssey and Killamanjaro. After that, if your dubplate collection was
weak, you could kiss winning a sound clash goodbye. Jamaica’s influence spread, with a vibrant
sound clash scene developing in the UK starting in the 1960s as Jamaicans emigrated to the
area, culture in hand. Sound Systems also arose in Japan, Sweden,
Finland, Italy, Germany, and Canada. And in the early 1970s, the architect of New
York hip hop, DJ Kool Herc, was so influenced by the sound clash culture of his native jamaica
that he brought sound systems to his parties in the Bronx. In 2010, Red Bull Music Academy launched Culture
Clash, a modern spin on sound clashes. Since then, artists like Major Lazer, Disclosure,
Just Blaze, ASAP Mob have played clashes all around the world. Today, the sound clash’s spirit of competition
and its innovative dubplate techniques have influenced many genres of music, from hip-hop
to EDM. What started off on the streets of Jamaica
has touched music fans across the globe.


  1. You know you have nothing else to do with your life when you refresh the subscription feed over and over waiting for a new video

  2. @Genius how can you guys not include Nite Traxx Sound System, the first true car sound system in Jamaica and a Landmark of May Pen Clarendon, a true innovator of the entire Sound System Scene, in this video? Please do some more research on this guys, would be a shame to pass over them😄

  3. Something about the voice over (sounds like letty) just sounds off to me. Like it's not matching the vibe of what she is talking about.

  4. So glad someone is speaking on this the influence is so broad and really real. I started making beats in 09 and that's when I was introduced to this amazing history. Love it keep em coming!!!!!!!!!

  5. Nice attempt but you guys cannot mention Japan and Europe and dont mention New York City. The only mention of NYC was when you spoke about hip hop.

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