Red Bull Music Academy Culture Clash
9 May 2013: Roseland Ballroom New York, NY
Repping their differing genres of dance music, the crews/teams of Young Guru & Just Blaze, Que Bajo?!, Federation Sound, and Trouble & Bass competed in the Red Bull Music Academy’s Culture Clash event at Roseland in New York City. Anyone who was slightly interested in hip-hop should have been there as this four hour sweaty dance fest only cost 10 bucks and special guests were anticipated. Each outfit had their own mini stage with speaker systems, and during the various rounds, brought out more guests than I could have possibly expected. Some guests were just there as spectators however—like RBMA alum Flying Lotus, who had done two shows at Terminal 5 a few nights before alongside Thundercat and Ultraísta (a couple of pics from his show are below).
Its far easier for me to share the following summary from a press release than to begin by identifying who the guests were from my pics and explaining what was performed. All I can say is that when I saw the lighting rig on Trouble & Bass’s stage wobbling during the first round or two, something not happening on the other stages, I would have wagered they would win the evening. If a Culture Clash comes to your town, be sure to check it out.
Rounds one and two featured the crews staying in their wheelhouse as they spun the best from their respective genres. Max Glazer and Kenny Meez of Federation Sound featured exclusive dubplates from some of reggae’s most notable talents, including Barrington Levy and Wayne Wonder. Just Blaze and Young Guru, credited with having produced and recorded some of Jay-Z’s biggest hits, brought out star guests early on the night, including Wale, Pharoahe Monch, and their former cohorts at legendary label Roc-A-Fella Records, Freeway and Memphis Bleek. Trouble & Bass presented an energetic blend of electronic music styles, ranging from Baltimore club to dubstep, with short forays into the world of rock and punk. Brooklyn-based tropical bass collective Que Bajo?! won over many an unsuspecting spectator with their energetic presentation, well-selected guests ranging from Sierra Leonean-American producer Chief Boima to Dominican rapper Villanosam, and poignant speeches representing New York’s Latin community.
Round 3, entitled “Sleeping With The Enemy,” forced crews to stray outside their comfort zones and play one opponent’s style of music. Que Bajo?! got down with some hip hop, including a guest performance by rising British MC Lady Leshurr and their very own take on Drake’s “Started From The Bottom,” including cheeky lyrics like “Started from the border, now the whole family here.” Just Blaze and Young Guru played a dancehall set, including rappers Jadakiss and Styles P performing their anthem “Good Times” over a reggae riddim. Federation Sound experimented with electronic music, fusing dancehall vocals with hard-hitting house, trap and dubstep beats. But it was Trouble & Bass who took the round by bringing out moombahton DJ Dave Nada and vocal duo Nina Sky for a rendition of their biggest hits, “Move Ya Body” and “Oye Mi Canto.”
In Round 4, the final round, Just Blaze and Young Guru took the entire room by surprise with a star-studded closing set featuring 2 Chainz, Raekwon, and Bun B. Federation Sound celebrated the golden age of New York dancehall with Spragga Benz, Mr. Easy, Red Fox and Ricky Blaze all on stage. Que Bajo?! presented a self-produced electronic dubplate version of Puerto Rican classic “Suavement” by Elvis Crespo. But it was no match for Trouble & Bass who brought out Robin S. for an exclusive live rendition of her dance music classic “Show Me Love”, and Cam’ron to do “Salute” and “I Really Mean It” – a record, ironically, produced by Just Blaze and Young Guru- that allowed them to take home the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy Culture Clash title.
Photos from Flying Lotus at Terminal 5 on May 5th:
Nigel Godrich (Ultraista)