Rumbling bass, unreleased music, money in the air and a stream of guest vocalists.
Stepping onto the floor at Roseland Ballroom lat night (Thursday, May 9), for Culture Clash was a heart-stopping experience. Twirling spotlights illuminated giant banners that announced each team. The banners loomed over massive stacks of speakers ready blow every eardrum out in the packed house. You could feel the excitement before the clash even began, and the mood become more and more hyped as the the evening progressed.
This is the first time the Red Bull Music Academy’s Culture Clash has come to NYC, and it pitted four New York crews against each other in a battle for love from the crowd. There was Federation Sound on the reggae tip, Trouble & Bass dropping electronic dance music, Just Blaze and Young Guru spinnin’ hip-hop and Que Bajo bringing the tropical vibes. In a series of four rounds, each got a turn at the tables, and were judged on the how loud the crowd’s response was. And it got very loud. Airhorns were all over the place, handed out by Federation and Que Bajo. The whole thing was hosted by the inimitable Miss Info.
There was shit-talking all night too, with each crew dissing the other, and it was hilarious. Blaze dressed as a priest pronounced Trouble & Bass dead, T&B had a Steven Hawkings voice dissing everyone, and Que Bajo clowned T&B for needing to hire a Latino to play a tropical set for them in a round where they had to play the other team’s style.
Federation waved giant flags, dressed like rebels in all camouflage, and threw money into the crowd. They brought out special guests like Tifa and Kardinal Official. T&B had a boxing ring girl holding up a card with their logo and handed out shirts to anyone who would wear them. Flatbush Zombies, Nina Sky, Cam’ron, Robin S, and one of the Ninja Turtles showed up to support T&B, performing wedged in between their massive sound system. Team Blaze was unstoppable with the guests – 2 Chainz, Jadakiss, Styles P, Bun-B, Wale, and more came through. They also shot money into the crowd. The sound of Que Bajo rattled the whole venue, powered by the Tsunami Bass Sound System. Chingo Bling, Lady Lesshur, Jahdan Blakkamore, and Villanosam handled special mic duties.
In the end, Trouble & Bass were claimed as victors, winning every round. But a lot of “boos” filled up the sound the crowd mad for them, possibly as a joke, but definitely from other camps in the crowd, which actually helped them win. Chants for Que Bajo during other teams’ audience cheering rounds probably helped too. The noise love for Que Bajo seemed unstoppable though, and they deserve special notice for that, even if Red Bull claimed another as the official crown holder.