The first ever Canada Cup Clash featured Hamilton’s King Attarney Sound (featuring new micsman-selector Junior D, alongside DJ and event promoter-Peezo), Toronto’s Steppa Choice Sound (Lumber G and DJ Itchy 1), Germany’s Warrior Sound (featuring one-man army, Mattai), and straight outta the Bronx (NYC), Younghawk Sound (featuring one man MC-DJ, Jami Hype). The clash, originally scheduled at the now defunked On Da Rocks Nightclub (switched later to the Palace), had been promoted for at least five months so diehard clash fans were looking forward to it.
Upon arriving late to the venue (just before 1am), things seemed just about ready to get started. By this time, the majority of people had already rolled into the Palace ready to see what they hoped would be a good and interesting war. Bonus – parking was free and the weather outside was perfect – leaving coats and jackets in the car was a viable option! Surprisingly, there weren’t too many complaints about the $30 Advance ticket price (not sure how much at the door), in part I believe because in the T-Dot, not too much clashes have been happening.
Round 1 | 15’ | Start Time 1:10 am
02. Steppa Choice
03. King Attarney
04. Young Hawk
01. Round ONE | Warrior Sound:
The Canada Cup Clash officially kicked off at 1:10 am – with Germany’s Warrior Sound International (MC-Selector Mattai – the international one-man army! ) first up to bat to start off Round One. Warrior Sound has been a Sound on the up rise and over the past five years has slowly risen to become one of Europe’s biggest and most active clash contenders. And yes, we are talking about the same Warrior Sound who recently defeated the big bad Bass Odyssey in Switzerland at the Keep It Real Anything Can Happen Clash about a month back (search it-see it on YouTube). And just for the record, Warrior Sound International is the same Sound formerly known as Rainbow Warrior (about five years back), but in a homophobic Clash industry, the name ‘Rainbow’ had started backfiring, hence the name change to Warrior Sound – One Man Army!
This was Mattai’s first time in Canada, and he had flown an incredible 14 hours to his T-Dot Canadian clash destination. Mattai started the clash somewhat unpredictably; after praising the Toronto massive, he directed the remainder of his speech to the night’s promoters, stating that he would not play a single tune and start his ‘engine’ until he was sent two Heinekens from the bar. He questioned the promoters’ stingy ethics, stating that when he performs internationally, as a courtesy, promoters would at least provide some kind of beverage for the participants – but no six-pack here! This speech mashed up the entire place and was a perfect start to the clash. Highlighting the moment was the fact that immediately after the speech, several people from the audience felt compelled to reach into their own supplies and personally deliver to the stage enough Heineken to last Mattai the rest of the night.
Dub wise – Mattai played some nice tunes and got some decent forwards during his first Round but didn’t come too hard and didn’t throw any words directly towards the competition. He had successfully gotten the crowd on his side with this first speech and was well received by a massive that seemed to appreciate his fresh vibe, and that this ‘white German selector’ seemed able to speak perfectly good English and really good Jamaican Patois, both with a slight German twist underneath! Mattai was loud, confident and aggressive sounding; he did not sound like one of those well mannered European selectors who had come to Canada before, a fresh treat for people who were witnessing Warrior Sound for the first time.
For the most part, Warrior Sound stuck to their European style of playing; but dubs and Artists that are ‘big’ in Europe often does not fly in Canada and America where tastes are different sometimes. In this case, an argument can be made that his European style of voicing modern artists over Studio One Riddims was actually a hindrance to his first Round – hard to say. Mattai was also the first selector to struggle with a flawed audio sound system that needed fine-tuning. Nevertheless, Warrior Sound can get credit for playing a decent Round with a few healthy forwards and some quality speeches.
02. Round One | Steppa Choice:
Next up – Toronto’s own Steppa Choice starring Lumber G and DJ Itchy 1, winners this year of Rumble in the West where they defeated Don Rankin and New York’s Love People (but losers to Rootsman at Wanted last year). Steppa Choice played great in their first Round, and it is their performance which is credited for starting war vibes in the clash. They received excellent forwards for perhaps a good sixty percent of the Round, highlighted by a new Sanchez plus a string of tunes and anthems mixed nicely on the Hi-Fashion Riddim. Speech-wise, a very confident Lumber G had no problem announcing to the audience that “everybody dead”, and that “Young Hawk a guh get shot outta di air”. At the end of their set, Steppa Choice was able to walk away with the live mic on the DJ table and fans refusing to stop cheering in appreciation. Overall, a solid performance by Steppa Choice, with two Sounds left to play out their first Round; it was Steppa Choice who was now ‘leading’ the clash!
03. Round One | King Attarney:
Hamilton’s King Attarney are 2011 Time to Shine champions (03.25.11@Hickory House vs. Outcast, Steppa Choice, Lexus Supreme, Don Rankin, Sniper). They also beat Greenz Connection in Hamilton, before losing to Sniper Sound shortly after). On this night, the King Attarney that we saw on stage was the newest version of the sound, never seen before on the Sound clash terrain. New selectors included Junior D as mics man (formerly of Twin Starr and Studio Mixx), alongside his old Twin Starr partner, DJ Peezo, who coincidentally, was also the main promoter of the night’s event (Being a promoter myself, I felt sorry for Peezo – wearing ‘two hats’! But which job was more important; protecting his investment at the door and ensuring that your dance runs smoothly as the promoter, or being on the stage focused on selecting duties for King Attarney?).
Because “Canada Cup Clash” was a Peezo-King Attarney concept (most likely designed to put a revamped King Attarney back on the map), the big men were also in the place; standing and observing from the left of the stage (he would not leave his location all night) was veteran King Attarney owner, Phantom. Pong, the longest serving King Attarney member, was also in the place, but seemed content staying in the background so that his new recruits had chance to independently show and prove.
What was interesting about King Attarney’s first Round performance is that for the first half of the Round, King Attarney flopped, didn’t get a single forward. But come the second half, it was a completely different story as King Attarney destroyed the place right from Round-start to Round-finish. The Round highlight would occur when they ran their own string of 90’s anthems and classics (primarily on the Answer Riddim) including some old Baby Wayne and classic Buju Banton (which they would point out to Steppa Choice that they “can’t play”). By the end of their set, (and just like Steppa Choice before), King Attarney were now the ones able to triumphantly exit the stage with people still applauding and wanting more!
I have to emphasize – King Attarney, after stumbling out of the gates, received some huge forwards in the latter half of their Round – bigger forwards and more forwards than Steppa Choice had earned only minutes previous during the entirety of their Round. Attarney had bus the whole dance with this first Round performance, and their speeches were clear. Things looked good for King Attarney at this point, and it was now clear that Canada Cup Clash would be a sticky event – one Sound to go still – King Attarney a lead!
04. Round One | Younghawk:
Enter the final Sound for Round One – coming straight outta the Bronx, the ‘other’ one-man army in the place, the mighty Younghawk Sound featuring Jami Hype. No stranger to Toronto, Younghawk is a nasty 90’s Sound who has clashed in Toronto at least three times previous. As a one-man Sound station, Jami Hype has already defeated both Soul Survival and King Turbo in two separate one-on-one clashes. Jami is smart, calculative, and as the most experienced selector in the clash, knew it would be near impossible for him to win that first Round. The scales were already tilted – the last two Sounds to play had had incredible performances. Younghawks strategy — the ‘race is not for the swift’; Jami appeared to have decided to go easy and pace himself appropriately.
Younghawk actually played a nice “introduction” Round. Although Jami received only about three or four forwards, he still came with some interesting speech, all the time warning the crowd to watch his “strategy”, as he knew what he was doing, in part because it was not his first time clashing in Toronto. Younghawks set is highlighted by the “Inna Real Life” (Vershon-Mavado) dub used to counter act a dub played earlier by Steppa Choice. Jami looked poised and composed after his Round – he was a competitor yes, but he was also having fun at the event being familiar with the T-Dot politic and politricks, and knowing that there were still three Rounds left to go. By time Round One was done, it was clear (by a show of hands) that the winner was indeed King Attarney.
Score End of Round 1: King Attarney (1)| Younghawk (0) | Steppa Choice (0) | Warrior (0)
Round 2 | 10’ | Start Time 2:18 am
Order Of Sounds:
02. Steppa Choice
03. King Attarney
04. Young Hawk
05. Round Two | Warrior Sound:
Round Two started with Warrior Sound back up to bat. Mattai would again address the crowd with a speech criticizing the way all the Sounds were “playing the same way” , and that this uncreative approach was to blame for “mashing up di business”. Mattai’s first dub got him his biggest forward for Round Two, as he counteracted a Younghawk dub played earlier with his own Beres Hammond “Groovy Little Thing – Kill Sounds Inna Morning” dub plate, stating to the audience and competing Sounds, “this is how yuh voice a song and spend yu own money”- a huge forward! Warrior Sound played steady for the rest of Round Two, but even though Mattai was entertaining, confident and aggressive, by now the fascination had worn off, the crowd had become stingier – any forwards received would have to be earned.
06. Round Two | Steppa Choice:
Steppa Choice still seemed confident in Round Two, but the crowd inside the Palace, aware of their power to champion a sound, would not move (hands in pocket) unless a sound involuntarily moved them. Steppa Choice saw this, and resorted to their old tunes to keep the crowd on their side for the majority of their set. At times, their presentation of dubs seemed somewhat scattered, but perhaps the biggest forward for any Sound came in this same second Round when they played a customized Tarantula dub where he creatively disses King Attarney for including new members who keep jumping from Sound to Sound, as well as Warrior Sound – dissing Matai for his Supercat that flopped last week in Trinidad, and that Younghawk like to “lick” but “not like Chris Brown”, leaving his “cocky inna yard and using his mouth”. Steppa Choice had their best moments with this dub, which they pulled up at least five times.
One more interesting note – clash fans watching the stage may have noticed the tactics of a certain King Attarney mics man who would indicate to Steppa Choice with a slit-throat hand gesture (and if you could read lips – the word “Yuh aggo dead pussy” was muttered), that the Tarantula dub they were playing would be counteracted! Steppa Choice would actually complement King Attarney during this same Round, stating (prematurely) that it would be Steppa Choice and King Attarney that would “battle it out” in the finals. The rest of the Steppa Choice’s Round offered few highlights.
07. Round Two | King Attarney:
King Attarney entered their second Round with high expectations, ready to counter-act the Steppa Choice Tarantula dub played a few minutes earlier. Junior D appeared ready to pounce, cocky almost, grabbing the mic and telling Steppa Choice “dem aggo dead”, and that as for the Tarantula – him “aggo kill dat”. Needles to say, the speech got King Attarney a big forward; the massive was itching to hear the counter action, especially since the first Steppa Choice Tarantula was so sweet! But that’s when the inevitable happened.
Just as Junior D introduced the dub, Peezos computer appeared to have chipped out, and even though the mic worked, there was no audio coming from the CD players, hence killing the King Attarney opportunity, advantage, and fight. Eventually, the audio would return, but the dead air had been embarrassing as well as a momentum killer. King Attarney would show some experience in creatively handling the situation; they would pause playing their Tarantula counteraction, and win back some crowd support by preaching to the crowd about the Steppa Choice man dem being ‘bad mind’- since the Steppa Choice audio system when used by other Sounds, kept chipping out, but when Steppa Choice played, there were no technical problems. They were crying sabotage, pointing out the audience how Steppa Choice would (unnecessarily) turn off their Sound after they played, and questioning why the mic used by Steppa Choice worked fine for them but chipped out for all other competing Sounds. Junior D seemed at times convincing, explaining to the crowd the ‘bad sportsmanship’ of a Steppa Choice sound that (initially) ‘refused’ to let the other Sounds use their system (two audio systems were set up) inside the Palace.
After further investigation, I discovered that the scenario, as explained to the crowd by King Attarney, was far from the truth. King Attarney knew, going into the clash (remember they were also the promoters of the event) that Steppa Choice’s policy is not to ever allow a Canadian Sound they were clashing to use their audio system, but that a Sound(s) they were clashing from outside of Canada, as a courtesy, would be welcomed to share using it. King Attarney was supposed to supply their own system but in the end resorted to using the club house system. It appears then that when King Attarney made those complaints, the fans may not have known it, but they were unwarranted because Attarney wasn’t even using the Steppa Choice audio.
In reflecting on this situation, Junior D made some interesting points, but in the end (and in defense of Steppa Choice), a dub plate Sound can’t cry too much when they agree to take a clash and are fully aware that the clash audio system is being provided by one of the competing Sounds. If King Attarney, a sound that possesses their own mobile Audio system, knows this information and still do not exercise their option to provide, usually at their own cost, their own audio system to string up, then they almost ‘deserve’ what they get, no? Sounds should take more control back from promoters and bring their own cordless mics and DJ-controllers if they want to win clashes. If Steppa Choice wants to employ a Sound engineer dedicated to fine-tuning the Sound only when Steppa Choice performs, then in principle, there is nothing wrong with this – just my opinion.
Now, back to the clash – when King Attarneys’ audio did chip back in, the sound, knowing they had lost some momentum, made a decision not to play the Tarantula counter action at their start. Some God-bless tunes came instead, some singing dubs, but the stutter-start had put Attarney behind the 8-Ball and now the uphill climb seemed overwhelming. The crowd now started to turn on King Attarney, who on stage seemed disorganized and confused, a bit dazzled actually. After wining Round One, Attarney selectors were now seen scrambling and searching for tunes to get forwards. They would be the first sound to get booed at Canada Cup Clash, their vibes were dead.
King Attarney eventually would attempt to revive themselves by finally dropping their Tarantula counter-action with only minutes left to go in the Round. Unfortunately for King Attarney, the crowd wasn’t feeling this dub at all, chiefly because it was cut poorly, and cut on a Hip-hop Riddim; plus after all the hype, it sounded boring. Furthermore, the dub was not introduced properly, and lyrically it did not connect with the crowd. The much anticipated counter action dub had backfired and flopped, leaving King Attarney in a last-place-in-Round-Two position.
08. Round Two | Younghawk:
Younghawk, at this point, must have loved what he saw transpire between Rounds One and Two. I can only imagine how he must have loved his number four playing position, because he, being so observant, would now have more than enough ammunition for words and speeches and analysis about the night’s events and the caliber of the sounds performances. Jami Hype saw what was going on, he saw how King Attarney had stepped up in the first Round, saw how a Tarantula customized dub had provided ‘the only forward’ for a Sound. At this point, Younghawk reminded me of Newby at World Clash 2006. Newby was observant, stayed humble, played consistent, and watched everyone else basically eliminate themselves until he became the last Sound standing.
On this night, Younghawk knew that all he had to do was play the right songs in the right order to win Round Two. Jami Hype did just that, his playing style was steady and consistent as he played some nice dubs, including some of his New York anthems, and even some Lindo P., earning him some nice forwards. Throughout his Round, his speeches were on point, he would big up Toronto and more specifically, Jane and Finch. Jami had said that he had a ‘strategy’; whatever that strategy was, it seemed to now be working.
Jami would taunt the new King Attarney selectors for the rest of the night starting here, verbally assassinating them for “picking up an old sound” and not knowing “how to play it”. Jami had earned the right to brag about how he built his own Sound since ‘96, and told the audience and King Attarney specifically that when they jump on a new Sound and don’t cut their ‘owna’ tune, they’ll never know how to play the sound properly (Jami had made a good point, no)? During the night, had King Attarney played dubs with Junior D’s or Peezos’ name in it? – I couldn’t remember any! After a quick vote, the winner of Round Two (again by a show of hands) was Younghawk Sound.
Score End of Round 2: King Attarney (1)| Younghawk (1) | Steppa Choice (0) | Warrior (0)
Round 3 [Elimination Vocal Round] | 8′ | Time: 3:26 am
02. Steppa Choice
03. King Attarney
04. Young Hawk
09. Round Three | Warrior Sound:
I had thought that Warrior Sound would have something in the bag for this Round Three (vocal round), but musically, things were a bit of a disappointment. Matai used a speech to rub salt in King Attarneys’ wounds when he commented that he’d “never seen a customized Tarantula dub get flop inna clash”, and that the quality of the (King Attarney) dub “sucked”. His other speeches were harder to buy as they were more or less a recycled version of the same points that were made before, that sounds are mashing up the business because of their lack of creativity and continue to play the same basic songs on the same basic Riddims (even if this was true, I did not find it to be this case this night). But immediately after the speech, the Audio system again cut out (just like with King Attarney), and by time it came back the vibes had changed and any momentum gained from a starting speech was now lost.
Promoters gave Matai back his time, but this was basically it for Warrior Sound, nothing was working for Matai no matter what he played (I heard a Dexta Dap “711” that flopped). Again, there may be a point to make about the German-based Warrior Sound dub collection not being styled for the North American tastes, and who or what is hot there does not necessarily get a pass here. To win a vocal Round, the people needed to hear big combinations and artists (Beres, Marcia Griffiths, Luciano, John Holt, Freddie McGregor, Johnny Osborne, Bushman, Sanchez, Wayne Wonder, etc. – just study a Bass Odyssey or King Turbo vocal Round clash CD and you know!). In the end, a disappointing elimination Round for Warrior Sound, a few forwards for some good speeches but zero for any dubs played.
10. Round Three | Steppa Choice:
This was a terrible Round for Steppa Choice, no matter what they tried they would fail to move the crowd. It was at this point where I first started wishing I could fast forward time, because it was such a boring Round for the massive. Yes, Steppa Choice flopped in Round Three, getting no forwards, and now nominated for last place in the clash. They were successful in announcing on the mic their prediction that King Attarney would most likely drop their Garnet Silk dubs when they go up to bat next.
11. Round Three | King Attarney:
Steppa Choice may have had a terrible Round 3, but King Attarney can be accused of following directly in this Sound’s footsteps. It was not a good Round for King Attarney, who again seemed very disorganized and confused on the stage, when it was an opportune time for them to win another Round in the clash. But again, zero forwards for an entire Round which seemed too long, couldn’t wait for it to end. Making things worse was the fact that for the venue turned on their house lights to full, so annoyingly, the Palace was brightly lit taking away some of the glimmer from the dancehall. And yes, King Attarney, as predicted, did draw for their Garnet Silk(s), receiving a small forward a rae-rae.
12. Round Three | Younghawk:
Round Three | Younghawk:
This was another steady Round for Younghawk. If Jami played well and won, he would emerge as the only selector not to flop in a Round that seemed to be giving people so many problems. Jami did not need to search for content for his speeches on the mic, he’d seen what had gone on around him, and would continue to beat into the heads of his competition and fans, his theme point for the night – you have to know your box if you’re gonna win clashes, either that or flop like the Sounds around him. Jami got some forwards for those speeches. But that was just the speech; musically, Jami did not hesitate to up the level of his performance. It was time for the big chunes and Anthems to drop – so in came the big Sluggy Ranks (Sodom and Gomorrah), the Barrington Levy, Major Christie, Jr. Reid, Sanchez – all of these dubs and Anthems peaking at the right time and earning Younghawk huge forwards. Helping Jami was the fact that some of the Toronto massive already knew these Anthems and dubs (unlike some of our Canadian Sounds who don’t have any Anthems) from having witnessed Jami using them previously in Toronto. He had used some of those identical dubs on at least two occasions, both when he defeated King Turbo, and also when he lost to Barrier Free and Innocent. At this point, things looked good for Jami, who would soon be declared by a show of hands, the winner of Round Three!
Score End of Round 3 Elimination Vocal Round: Younghawk (2) | King Attarney (1)| Steppa Choice (0) | Warrior (0) — Warrior Sound is Eliminated from the Clash by a show of hands.
Round 4 | 8′
01. Steppa Choice
02. King Attarney
03. Young Hawk
13. Round Four | Steppa Choice:
Steppa Choice’s fourth Round was highlighted by a Steven Marley/Mad Cobra/Bounty Killer “Ghetto Boy” dub plate– (“Steppa Choice kill a champion Sound”) which earned them a big forward. According to Steppa Choice, this dub was a world premiere, and the dub would get pulled up about three or four times, consuming about four minutes of playing time (that dub sounded sweet, Bounty on the intro, Damien sounding just like the record). The bad news is that Steppa Choice would boil down for the rest of Round and would actually get booed at times. Their reliable old tunes never worked, and there was nothing else beautiful about this Round worth highlighting. It was clear that there would be no comeback for Steppa Choice Sound on this night.
14. Round Four | King Attarney:
What can I say – King Attarney flopped big time in this Round, receiving no forwards and appearing to have run out of tunes for duration of their entire seven minutes playing time. To the rescue, Pong; the same original King Attarney selector mentioned earlier who had been trying to stay out of the spotlight. But now, Pong had to play “pinch-hitter” and try to rescue his new King Attarney crew members from their downhill slide. He would join Junior D and Peezo on stage to try and help them with their selections, but not only would he not be able to help, he may have made things worse because his act of coming into the limelight would later play directly into the hands of Younghawk, scheduled to go up next. King Attarney would get booed at the end of their set. Typical of Junior D, a great start but an inability to finish, the same thing keeps happening no matter what sound he MC’s (I was told after the event that Pong would now be taking over King Attarney DJ-selector duties from Peezo from this point on).
15. Round Four | Younghawk:
Younghawk, being the intelligent selector that he is, must have smelled victory as he started his fourth round. He had chosen and stuck to his strategy, and in the process, seen Sounds for one reason or another, pop down around him. Jami could do nothing wrong at this point, the prize was basically packaged, gift-wrapped and waiting, as all other Sounds had practically eliminated themselves with poor performances. Still, according to the rules, Younghawk had to win Round Four to win the clash, cruise to victory and avoid tune-fi-tune.
For Jami, it was all about pacing himself throughout the event, and keeping a keen eye on what’s going on around him. Jami started off the round by playing analyst and event commentator, reminding the crowd with his first speech that exactly what he had predicted had happened; “when yuh pick up people old sound, and yuh neva build yuh owna sound”, these are the (disastrous) things that will happen.
As expected, Jami would draw for the Wayne Wonder-Buju combo “Nobody’s Calling Your Name”, and direct it to the King Attarney Sound. As he kept dropping hurtful dubs, Jami stated “watch how experienced Sounds work”, and proceeded to mash up this clash (every tune got a forward!) with dubs that had been reserved for this classic moment. Jami bus the place with a wicked Punanney Riddim set where at least ten Buju’s were speedily auditioned, a Bounty, a Lindo P, and finally a Vybz Kartel “Real Badman” that tore down the place and had the crowd excitedly singing “hey, hey, hey” as they were birthing their champion Sound. This was the biggest forward for the entire night, eclipsing anything that had been achieved before by any of the competing three Sounds.
At the Round’s end, the MC didn’t even have to announce who had won the Round; everybody knew Younghawk had taken it. Better still, in taking Round Three (which was pointed out by MC Presto), Younghawk had also won the clash with three consecutive Round wins, and people were happy to go home since it was now minutes after 5am. Today, we say a big congratulations to Jami and his Younghawk Sound, the first ever (2015) Canada Cup Clash champion.
Final Score End of Round 4: Younghawk (3) | King Attarney (1)| Steppa Choice (0) | Warrior (0) — Younghawk is the 2015 Canada Cup Champion!
Some closing thoughts on this clash, our Canadian Sounds need to do a better job of pacing themselves through a clash. Anthems played in the first Round could’ve been more valuable later.
I congratulate all of the Sounds for doing their best, despite my negative criticisms, I give you credit for having the guts to take the stage and war!
As for the Sound System(s) – personally, I still have a ringing in my ear – the sound was not strung up properly, it was too bass heavy for the venue and was more loud than clear. I’m also not sure why it kept chipping out.
Another complaint – why the extremely late start?
And why was there was no fuckin’ trophy! A champion clash trophy can cost less than $150, and it was an insult to Younghawk not to have his championship trophy to mark the night’s end.
And where was the video man – a video man is standard at all clashes today, even the low budget ones!
And why at 1:30 am did ya’ll run out of liquor and water?
Why was there no Vershon (and no explanation) as advertised on the flyer?
The good news; at least every Sound that was promised was delivered, and the clash came to a final conclusion.
And finally, I’d like to big up to those same core set of people (you know who you are) who are keeping our clash scene alive by coming to literally every Sound Clash put on by promoters in the T-Dot. You know who you are, many of you the same ones who cling to the venues outer edges and darkest corners during the night awaiting those rare and special moments when a Sound’s performance and vibes spikes your adrenalin and causes you to leave the comfort of your hiding space and instead run out to the open space in front of your Sound on stage just to give them a faward! This clash scene is NOTHING without you! Up Up Up!!
And finally, a very big thank you to Heartless (Nightstar Sound) for his assistance in this article, as well as to Squidley (Klymaxx) and Skully (Mello Vibes). And I can’t forget Lisa West helping out with the Pics!