November 26, 2017

Words by LargeUp Crew
Photos by Martei Korley

On each of its last three voyages, Damian Marley’sย Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise has presented the Sound Clash at Sea, pitting top sound systems against each other in a battle for dubplate supremacy. The format is similar to that at other major sound clashes (i.e. a series of elimination rounds, in which competitors are whittled down one by one, followed by a decidingย โ€œtune fi tuneโ€ round between two finalists) with one major exception. It’s held in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, as the ship makes its way back to Florida from Jamaica. For many passengers, who might not otherwise have the opportunity to witness the spectacle of a sound clash, it’s an opportunity to catch one featuring the masters of the form.

This year’s Sound Clash at Sea boasted the most heavyweight lineup yet, pitting Japan’s โ€œFar East Rulazโ€ Mighty Crown against โ€œThe Rudeboy Gentlemanโ€ David Rodigan, โ€œThe Man from Marsโ€ Tony Matterhorn and World Clash champs King Turbo. Ultimately, it was another victory for Mighty Crown, who seem to have this thing on lock, having now won in all three years.

In his fourth photo essay from this year’s cruise (see the rest here), Martei Korley captures the tension, sport, drama and humor of the clash, from start to finish.

Calm before the storm: referee DJ Rassarella, Spex Da Boss of King Turbo and DJ Delano from Renaissance Sound wait on stage before the clash.

The moment before a sound clash is a bit like being in the pen before a boxing match, full of tension and pent-up energy.

King Turbo’s Spex Da Boss eyes the competition.

Steelie Bashment entertaining the crowd

King Turbo, who had to earn their way back into the Clash by winning this year’s World Clash in Toronto, were up first.

King Turbo attempt to hype up the crowd in Round 1. In a repeat of last year, they were the first sound to get sent home.ย 

The Rudeboy Gentleman: David Rodigan took advantage of his age and appearance, hobbling like an old man with back problems, before giving up the jig to focus on the crowd.ย 

Rodigan delivered a strong performance in Round 1, moving with nuff energy, and power.

โ€œ25 years ago in Brooklyn, I voiced this dubplate with this young man,โ€ Rodigan said as he launched into a Bounty Killer โ€œLodgeโ€ dub. Rodigan himself sounded like the voice on the Showtime riddim, mimicking its signature โ€œHey!โ€ sound.

โ€œI donโ€™t know if Iโ€™m dressed today for a clashโ€ฆ Iโ€™m dressed for a burial…โ€

Mighty Crown’s Masta Simon steps out during a solid Round 1 set

The crowd reacts to Mighty Crown

Gun finger inna di air…

Rodigan returns, in Round 2.

Rodigan couldn’t carry his Round 1 energy over into the next one, and was eliminated

Tony Matterhorn stepped out in the attire of a sheik… perhaps a reference to an upcoming event he’s presenting in Dubai?

Matterhorn handles mic duties, while DJ Norie holds down the turntables

Mighty Crown dropping dubs…

…As the crowd roars with approval

Tony Matterhorn is best known today as the artist behind songs like โ€œDutty Wine,โ€ but he began his career as a selector with New York sounds Inner City and King Addies, before forming his own self-named sound system in the late โ€˜90s, and taking titles at major sound clashes like Jamaicaโ€™s Fully Loaded.

Matterhorn makes his point…

Mighty Crown’s Sami T laughs off Matterhorn’s challenge in the tune-fi-tune round

The crowd shows its support for Mighty Crown

We are the champions: Mighty Crown hoist up their third title.

See you next year!