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How African Storm Sound lost the Red Bull Culture Clash Battle

How African Storm Sound System lost the Culture Battle

Once we was sitting and chillin in the car just before a dance at Carfax. The guys chillin in the car in front of us started playing some Reggae Dancehall mix. By the time it got to the fifth track we were already guessing who’s mix was playing, and not before long we had already figured out that it was an African Storm Mix and confirmed by the guys playing it. That is how predictable African Storm Sound has become. Their set has not changed much since the last ten years. I had stopped frequenting Bassline for that reason too, that I would hear the same crowd pleaser tunes that I had heard the last time I was there.

That is how they approached the culture clash, by being predictable and not offering anything new or exciting, nothing prepared specially for the clash. Only the dubs that were played, the rest was all Bassline routine. The tracks that they played were reminiscent of Bassline vibes. We have heard them week in and week out at Bassline. The Dancehall Queens faded and merged in with all the other scantily dressed females dancers present on stage. All the crews had their dancers so, there was no element of surprise or anything special there. So even the Dancehall Queens could not save the predictability of the whole set.

By the second round Jah Seed looked to be already out of steam. He seems to be not fit enough to handle the marathon of MC’ing a clash. So much so that it was Admiral from behind the decks who announced that Pato Ranking broke the clash rules by playing a song that has been played, it was played by African Storm in the first round already. But Pato Ranking could not have known, as he missed the first round and only joined the clash at the second round anyway.

It is usually the job of the MC to lyrically murder the other sound crews and ferment the crowd and deliver such blows in a manner that clashes and provokes the other crew. Something that AKA executed brilliantly. But Alas, Jah Seed was just there. This could have been easily and smoothly done by one call Badda Badda, he is the maddest MC right about now and he was the man for the job. I cannot think of any other suitable for this job but him. He knows how to interact with the crowd, he is lyrically gifted and can drop a ragga ragga freestyle at any moment. He has the stamina, he is knowledgeable about the broad spectrum of music, he murders soundbwoys easily and he owns any stage that he gets on. He could match up to the Top Boys energy. It is a mystery why African Storm overlooked him like so. Them shoulda know that Badda Badda can deliver. Him born fi dis.

Instead, they invited Oskido, a reputable house DJ and Tall Ass Mo a comedian and Reality TV Star.  Speedy was also in the crew, you’d think he would have wipped up something with Jah Seed for some Bongo Muffin nostalgia, for old times sake, and especially since everybody else was pulling out boMdu nabo Jub Jub nabo, nabo Zola, nabo Sbani sban. But African Storm failed to put up nuff Reggae Dancehall artist from Mzansi on that stage! That is a heartbreaker. There was an opportunity to showcase Dancehall in all its manifestations, and by presenting to the crowd a local dancehall artist would have done us proud. Its not that there aren’t any artists good enough for that stage and for that type of event. I can think of at least 5 at the top of my head that would have added a little bit of something different, something new.  Man like Skeleton Blazer would have roused the crowd and defended Reggae and Dancehall to the fullest with no apology. Man like Black Dillinger got nuff experience of big stages and big crowds and sure is lyrically murderous [well, he was taken by Top Boys]. Man like Crosby also knows how to work the crowd and can Hip Hop his way around too. Badda Badda himself can MC, and is a Freestyler of note and him also got nuff chunes to please the crowd with. We got Man like Freeky who has some wicked dancehall chunes to work the booty shaking gyals into a frenzy. Man they could have even gotten Buffalo Soldier [well Red Hot Sound got to him first] who is a cross over artist with a nice following. They coulda even called any of the ZimDancehall crowd pullers like Souljah Love or any of them Zim artists who they readily have at their disposal.  They coulda called Nkulee Dube, she could have soften and sweetened the rough edges, just a short appearance nje, just for control.  They coulda invite Bongo Riot and have the crowd laughing and dancing to Mapakistan. They had a pool to choose from. It’s not that we lack artists, or music or MC’s. There’s plenty. It took AKA’s Top Boys to cut a special dub from Black Dillinger! and bring him up on stage! Can you imagine that! They beat dem in their own game, own turf! And after dropping the wicked dub, they said: Anything you can do, Top Boys can do better! Referencing Peter Tosh? BooM! Putting the final nail on the coffin. For me, at that point, African Storm Sound was dead. Me lef Orlando Stadium.

Black Dillinger Rolling with The Top Boys.

African Storm is disconnected from the Reggae Dancehall scene in Mzansi.

They said they were going to defend Dancehall and Reggae, but in truth, they went to defend African Storm title, which is not one and the same thing. Cah Reggae Dancehall has got staunch fanatics, Dancehall Soldiers, ghetto yutes and eccentric OG’s that could melt a weave wearing sister’s heart just by flashing his locks; they come from far and wide, they represent rural areas and city sleekers to uptown dwellers. They listen to Reggae Dancehall EVERYDAY. It was African Storm’s job to make sure that the dancehall massive come through to support, after all, the crowd decided the overall winner. That is how and why Durban Massacred everybody, cos their followers showed up, they came for their sound, they came for their city, they came to win. DJ Tira even printed Durban signs for the fans.They came prepared.

No effort was made from African Storm to make sure that the Reggae Dancehall Massive showed up in numbers.

How you gonna call yourself a small axe when you been at it for over two decades?

They did not involve the Dancehall Massive. They completely distanced themselves from the whole scene. It was all about being there with top players and old friends circle and endlessly giving them praise; I mean, who cares about Rastas if you can hang with AKA and DJ Tira? AKA cared enough though, him brought Black Dillinger up on Stage. While Top Boys were hosting pre-parties for their fans, and The Massacre Sound were printing signs and gearing up for the clash, African Storm was busy keeping a secret that Beenie Man was gonna make an appearance. Cos that is all that they pulled up from their sleeve.

Is African Storm Sound an ice cream sound? Definitely not. Their set was tight, their dubs were legendary, they got experience and can pull a crowd. What happened then, cos even the King of Dancehall himself could not save them.  Beenie Man was their secret weapon. He came, he ‘Sim Simmerd’ then left.  Even the Bob Marley One Love tunes did not save them. One Lucky Dube track got the crowd skanking, but that would be as local as they got.

African Storm Looses Battle to DJ Tira's Durban Massacre

What happens then. Who will defend Reggae Dancehall in the next culture clash? Will Reggae Dancehall even be invited to take part? Will it be African Storm Sound again to defend Reggae Dancehall? Do they still have what it takes? Can they fill up any other venue other than Bassline? If its not African Storm then Who? Is there any other sound that is ready to step up and challenge the status quo? Cos, after this dismal showing of African Storm, we desperately in need of something new, something fresh, something innovative. Otherwise, its all back to Bassline again on Thursday Nites, business as usual.

Maybe its time for the ultimate real clash. A Death Before Dishonour Clash. For once, let this be settled. We want to see African Storm Sound Clashing with another Reggae Dancehall Sound. Will there be any sound ready to challenge African Storm Sound System? Mi sey plenty sound can clash. Even Top Boys Can clash better! Watch Out fi dis!