Dueling Dubs

The sound clash is a Jamaican competitive art form in which two or more DJs and their technical assistants play records back and forth, with crowd approval determining a victor. Starting in the 1950s, enterprising Jamaican music producers set up large stereo speakers with a single turntable in outdoor locations to play American- and eventually Jamaican-produced R&B 45s. Open-air sound system dances were cheap entertainment for people who couldn't afford the concert halls as well as a vehicle for record labels to promote their releases. Clement "Sir Coxsone" Dodd's Downbeat, Prince Buster's Voice of the People, and Duke Reid's Trojan were three big sound systems whose labels kick-started the Jamaican recording industry. Since then, clashes have grown in size and complexity and are now mostly held indoors, including Sound Clash Thursday's battle between San Diego's Tribe of Kings Soundsystem and Fresno/Santa Cruz-based Reality Sound International. Tribe of Kings, led by selector Dash Eye, are known for their timely dubplates — exclusive one-off recordings made in Jamaica just for the clash. Reality Sound frontman Daddy Spleece, meanwhile, is known for his "speech" — deadly disses intended to belittle the other sound or their dubs. Controversies taint clashes if a crowd or judge is seen as biased, or if a dubplate sounds inauthentic. The only certainty is that audience votes determine a trophy winner.
Thu., Oct. 28, 10 p.m., 2010

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