Established in London in 2010, Red Bull Culture Clash has grown into the ultimate sound clash, pitting four heavyweight sound systems against each other in a battle for the support of the crowd and the Red Bull Culture Clash belt. Back in South Africa for the first time in five years, Red Bull Culture Clash 2017 was a musical battle of epic proportions. With four heavyweight sound systems representing four of South Africa’s favourite genres, it was always going to a close competition.
2012 champions Admiral & Jahseed, who had previously taken the trophy by defeating Goldfish, DJ Cleo and Khuli Chana, returned with the African Storm Sound System representing dancehall. Leading the charge for afrobeats was Nigeria’s Patoranking and the Red Hot Sound System, while DJ Tira and the Durban Massacre Sound System represented house and AKA and the Top Boyz Sound System represented hip hop. With thousands of eager music fans packed into Orlando Stadium the energy was palpable.
Round 1: Temperature’s Rising
Kicking off the warm up round, DJ Tira started things off with L’Vovohyping up the crowd to Professor’s “Imoto”. Admiral & Jahseed came out of the gates running dropping the likes of The Black Eyed Peas’ “I’ve got a Feeling”, “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled and even Mandoza’s “Nkalakatha”. Patoranking decided to pull a fast one and didn’t appear in the first round announcing he couldn’t attend, but his crew didn’t hold back with Gemini Major and Intellectual Pantsula getting the crowd going to tracks like D'Banj’s “Oliver Twist” and Okmalumkoolkat’s “Gqi”. AKA came out swinging with tracks like Frank Casino’s “Whole Thing” having the crowd chant along and Babes Wodumo’s “Umngan’wami” getting them jumping.
Round 2: The Selector
Selecting cuts like Dawn Penn’s classic “You Don’t Love Me (No No No)”and Lucky Dube’s “Together As One” which had the crowd skanking with their hands in the air. With the Dance Hall Queens dominating the stage with their acrobatic twerking. DJ Tira took his second round set up a notch enlisting the help of a bassist & guitarist alongside the Distruction Boyz, Naak Music and Zodwa Wabantu to get crowd dancing. AKA brought the fire with tracks like Uhuru’s “Y-Tjukuja” and Kwesta’s “Mayibabo” bringing down the roof. Bringing out two secret weapons, DJ Cleo & L Tido, Patoranking finally made his appearance in the second round with DJ Soul T’s “Impempe” getting a huge response from the crowd. Ultimately Top Boyz took the round.
Round 3: Sleeping with the enemy
With biting your opponent’s sound the name of the game in Round 3, the Top Boyz took a swing at DJ Tira, dropping the likes of Endor’s “Hallelujah Anyway” and DJ Mbuso’s “Soweto Funk” with Chomee and Kwesta making a surprise appearance. Bringing out Nadia Nakai to Gemini Major’s “Ragga Ragga” with Zola, Spikiri and Emtee not far behind, Patoranking didn’t hold back with his secret weapons. Starting their round by calling out Patoranking for not playing by the rules, The African Storm Sound System brought out Tol Ass Mo dropping “Shuga Di Bang” live and stepping firmly on AKA’s territory, while Oskido came out to drop “I Believe” bringing them onto DJ Tira’s turf. Going full hip hop DJ Tira brought out Riky Rick for “Boss Zonke” and “Sidlukotini” driving the crowd wild leading them to take the round and claim a point.
Round 4: The Decider
The final round saw all the biggest hits and special favours being busted out. Patoranking brought out Nasty C for “Hell Naw” and Davido pushing the crowd into a frenzy. Kicking off his round with Bonang on stage, AKA had secret weapon HHP came out to perform “Tswaka” and to the crowd’s amazement Jub Jub singing “Ndikhokhele”. DJ Tira had the crowd eating out of his hands thanks to secret weapon M’du singing “Chomi Yabana” and his own track "Malume" driving them wild. African Storm Sound System started their round with a bang, dropping a dubplate special of Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” which dissed the other crews and referenced the night. For their first secret weapon Dr Malinga appeared in a pink afro wig performing the fitting track “Via Orlando” followed by the one and only “King of Dancehall”, Beenie Man, all the way from Jamaica.
Your Winner: DJ Tira and the Durban Massacre Sound System
With Patoranking disqualified for repeating The Game’s “It’s Okay (One Blood)” which African Storm Sound System had previously played, it was between the Top Boyz Sound System and Durban Massacre Sound System. The round was close but ultimately DJ Tira won over the crowd and took home the belt. “I felt like dropping on the floor and just collapsing! It was such an amazing experience. I thought I was dreaming. Even right now, I can’t believe I won this. We’ve put so much work into it and the unity that we had as the Durban Massacre, it’s all about Durban. We did it for our city.” exclaimed DJ Tira after winning. When asked about his strategy for choosing his crew and secret weapons he was quick to answer. “It was more about choosing people that wanna vibe with me. It’s all about your type of music. It was an opportunity for us to do something for a city that we think is doing well.”
Words by Themba Kriger