Missing their crew leader Popcaan, the Jamaican Unruly crew still took home the 2017 Red Bull Culture Clash title, ensuring that bragging rights returned to the origin of the soundclash. I got the opportunity to be on the ground and in the (ware)house in Atlanta where it all went down, courtesy of Red Bull. It was my first ever clash, and I had that in common with many of the participating crews, like Ear Drummers and Enjoylife.
Despite their novice status, it was actually Ear Drummers, led by Mike Will Made-It, who almost took the lead from the Jamaican crew in the third round, but Unruly unleashed a surprise guest that absolutely blew the hometown team right out of the water (more on that later). If you missed out, no worries: Red Bull Radio will be streaming the show again live on Wednesday night at 7PM EST (4PM PST).
Here’s how it worked: There were four stages, each positioned in a corner of the warehouse where the Culture Clash took place, and four rounds, during which each crew got a certain amount of time to play dub plates and hype up the crowd with onstage antics and gimmickry to win over enough supporters to make the most noise. Mike Will excelled in this department; nearly every performer that touched the stage held a wire-wrapped baseball bat, and they even brought a hilarious giant ear mascot who waved a toilet plunger-sized Q-tip. At one point they marched down from their stage to visit the others, standing in the front row to heckle and brandish their outlandish bats to intimidate the competition.
The deejays — that’s West Indian lingo for “hype men” — try to excited the audience while insulting their rivals, which can get quite personal and out-of-hand, such as when Disturbing London’s Charlie Sloth advised the crowd that Mike Will doesn’t pay producers, or when Unruly declared that Ear Drummers came dressed for a baseball game instead of a clash due to the fact that their uniform consisted of jerseys and ball caps.