History was made at 20,000 people descended on Earls Court to see Rebel Sound win the Red Bull Culture Clash 2014. The team made up of Chase & Status, Shy FX and the almighty David Rodigan, a Culture Clash dream team, took on three opposing crews including former champions Boy Better Know, the full A$AP Mob and the legendary, Stone Love.
The rules of the clash were simple; 4 crews would go head to head on 4 different stages over 4 rounds. Each crew would perform their own music, drop some of the biggest tracks in their collection, diss the other crews and perform exclusive tracks. On top of that, each crew was allowed to bring on special guests at anytime throughout their performances. At the end of each round there was a 15 second slot where a decibel reader would measure how loud the crowd cheered for their favourite crew and the loudest cheer would receive the point.
Despite BBK’s Jammer dressing up as Murkle Man and the A$AP Mob arriving on the stage with a quad bike, it wasn’t enough as Rebel Sound had a clear plan of attack.
Rebel Sound started with British broadcasting legend Trevor McDonald dissing the other crews on the big screens they then dropped exclusive dub-plates along with tracks from Rihanna, Emily Sande, Pusha T and many more. The disses from Rebel Sound weren’t especially personal though as they more or less just replaced words in their tracks with “Fuck Skepta” or “Fuck A$AP”. However, this was enough to fire everyone up with that classic “ooooooohhhhhhh!” echoing around the arena.
Stone Love’s legendary reputation was well respected, but possibly too much. It almost made them outcasts in the competition with people seeming to hold back; the worst diss they received was Jammer calling them “Stone Age”. The crowd didn’t connect with their performance, in part maybe due to a twisted young audience with a lack of knowledge, but mostly due to Stone Love’s set constantly stopping and starting which didn’t allow the crowd to get into the music.
A$AP Mob may be seen as one of the hottest rap groups in the world right now, but at the Culture Clash they were seen as the newest crew. The Mob’s music catalog depth was nothing compared to the likes of Wiley (BBK) or Chase & Status (Rebel Sound) and this was their biggest downfall. The singles and tracks known by core A$AP fans were unknown to the masses which made it hard for them to make an impression on any fans without “A” finger signs in the air. What they lacked in history though was made up by the way they expressed their culture performing with high energy throughout the night; so much so, Rocky lost his voice by round two.
The highlight of the night had to be ‘The Selection’, where it was each crews job to drop the biggest tracks they have in their collection. BBK could have won the competition from this round alone. With Rebel Sound bringing on Tempa T as a special guest, it must have been hard for him to watch as BBK invited grime legends such as Lethal Bizzle, D Double E and Stormzy to the stage. The special guests didn’t stop there either. Krept & Konan wrestled their way past security to perform ‘Don’t Waste My Time’ with BBK and later A$AP Mob brought out Danny Brown and House Of Pain so the crowd could ‘Jump Around’.
Looking back on the performances I asked myself, “Were Rebel Sound actually that good?” There’s no doubting that they deserved to win the competition, but by them being so competitive it did slow down the shows momentum.
After two rounds of back to back, ecstatic performances, David Rodigan decided to give a bit of tongue and cheek to his opposition. Annoyingly, this got under the other crew’s skin leading to Round 3 ‘Sleeping With The Enemy’ being more of a verbal argument instead of using their opponents music against them. These “tactics” killed the momentum as BBK and Stone Love ended up ranting more to the crowd then playing music. Rebel Sound didn’t just get under the crew’s skin but also Annie Mac‘s, the evenings host, as she demanded her microphone be turned up so she could tell Rebel Sound to “Shut The Fuck Up!” as she felt they weren’t being fair.
With the arena echoing with Jammer’s ranting voice you got to sit-back and reflect on Rebel Sound’s performance.
Rebel Sound embraced the dub-plate’s with prerecorded music that included the disses and didn’t feed from the crowd’s energy, but followed a pre-established set list. However, they didn’t need to do this as their own musical culture could have allowed them to dictate the crowd with their build ups and drops. The victory didn’t feel authentic and felt like it was more about them and not 20,000 people standing in the arena, whereas the other crews fed from the crowd’s reaction and performed to please. Even though the performance seemed scripted the other crews were no match for Rebel Sound who overall deserved to be crowned champions.
Nevertheless, the Red Bull Culture Clash 2014 was insanely fucking good!