CA Rumble was a huge success – congratulations to all of the sounds, fans, promoters and organizers. This was likely the most anticipated clash in Toronto in some years, where the incentive for our seven competing Canadian Sounds was a ticket to the 2016 Irish & Chin World Clash (date/venue still to be confirmed). The event offered a new, more spacious and classier venue (La Victoria Banquet Hall) not too far from Finch and Weston Rd., the perfect size for the 600 or so people in attendance. The event was officially presented by Jill (Toronto) alongside Irish & Chin (New York), and was hosted by Ninja from Mighty Crown Sound.
CA Rumble featured an early start but the crowd, having arrived early, was ready for it. The mood was festive, everybody was there (big up my sistren Lisa West, there early to represent ReggaeMania.com), including nuff Soundmen and VIPs, and promoter Chin and Jill at the front gates. The audio sound system sounded great, the venue was well lit, security was in full effect, there was a licensed bar, and smoking inside the venue was a already a go (to the dismay of the venue proprietors). After the Sounds drew numbers to determine playing order, the event would get off to an exciting 11 PM start with King Turbo drawing 1st, followed by (2)Steppa Choice, (3)Don Rankin, (4)Klymaxx, (5)Brimstone Gold, (6)Little Thunder, then finally, (7)Outcast. Big up Noble Works Sound for the early juggling.
ROUND ONE (No Elimination | 10 mins Per Sound): Each sound played well in their first Round (I was disappointed with my late arrival, I walked in during Don Rankin’s set, so I had missed personally witnessing the performances by King Turbo and Steppa Choice). From all reports, these two sounds came out of the gate hard and had excellent starts. King Turbo played well, Steppa Choice was ‘okay’ and from what I could tell, Foti Ranks (Don Rankin) seemed calmer than his usual self, a bit hyped yet composed during his opening round.
Next was Klymaxx, who got a good response from the massive. They could have slowed down a bit, and appeared in the perfect mood to kill sounds. Brimstone Gold followed Klymaxx. They had no promlems acknowledging to the crowd that were aware that “other” sounds didn’t feel Brimstone ‘belonged’ in CA Rumble. They would respond by stating that on this night, they have “more combos than King Turbo” who according to Brimstone, “neva bus no artist”. Their “Mi Nuh Tek Disrespect” & “Walk Wid Dem Casket” Mavado dubs put a stamp on their presentation, but it was quiet after their set, a few boos and slilent chatter even, almost like their MC was not being taken seriously.
Next up from Montreal – Little Thunder, who after a small audio glitch that delayed their start, did a good job of steadying out the vibes in CA Rumble. They handled the machine with good control and presented their dubs with good levels, including a nice Beres. Little Thunder played clash critic on the mic, stating that so far, they hadn’t seen even one sound that was “ready to war”! Little Thunder was well received by the CA Rumble crowd.
Outcast was the last sound up to bat in the elimination round, debuting their “Stars Across The Sky” (Romain Virgo) customized dub calling names of King Turbo, Brimstone Gold, Don Rankin, Steppa Choice, and Little Thunder members. They played some Chronixx and Jahmiel, Damien Marley “Gunman World”, some Capleton, Shabba and Beres. Jr. Don was playing good, not too excited at this point, his sound earning no big forward yet approved by fans for steadying out the vibes in a nice round overall.
ROUND TWO (1 Sound Eliminated | 10 mins Per Sound |12:10 pm): This was a good round for King Turbo, (MC) Metro and (DJ) Slingshot were back together again and seemed very much in sync. Besides, the entire crew was there, I spotted about a dozen members of King Turbo in the place. King Turbo started their ‘nothing to prove’ attitude in this round, stating that musically, King Turbo has “everything”. They dissed Don Rankin, Outcast, and also Little Thunder specifically for playing a Jahmiel which the counteracted with their own version that bigged up Jane & Finch, earning them a good little forward from the massive.
Next was Steppa Choice. Lumba G, always highly animated, worked hard during this set, but for whatever reason, his dubs were not registering like I have seen them do in the past. It was still a good round for Steppa Choice (a few cheerleaders in the place), and their Buju dubs and megamixes were a good response to Ricky Turbo stating earlier that Steppa Choice has “no Buju’s”!
Don Rankin followed Steppa Choice, again seeming humbled compared to past performances where overconfidence may have hurt their chances. On this night, Foti would take time to big up all of the crowd before playing his first dub. Interestingly, Don Rankin would get their best response from the “Real, Real” Polly Famous dub stylized for CA Rumble specifically to diss King Turbo. Other than that, Don Rankin didn’t gwaan with much by rounds end. It was an uphill fight followed by a few boos at the round’s conclusion.
Klymaxx played next, humorously commenting at the start of the round that they “nearly fell asleep” while waiting their turn to play. MC Squidly was clearly in a great mood, moving confidently, and having fun. They had the crowd moving in Round Two and paced themselves well. The speech was clear and even new dubs that failed to register in past clashes, were starting to work on this night. Klymaxx were able to earn themselves a decent audience response by round’s end.
Brimstone Gold had trouble making impact from the time they went up to bat. It was the same ordinary speeches, most not lethal enough on a night with such intense competition. Their dubs were okay but didn’t impress the crowd who could be heard booing as early as their round’s midway point. The sound also had a little trouble with King Turbo member Capleton who, during their performance, could be seen sitting on their stage with his back turned to them while appearing ‘bored’ and to be falling asleep during the majority of their round – a sign of disrespect. MC Nolan tried to deal with it on the mic, but eventually had to settle with non-violently slapping the baseball hat off the head of their friend Capleton, who, to his credit, was smarter than to react violently. Capleton then settled with being a further distraction by standing upright on the same stage wearing his King Turbo T-Shirt with victory arms raised for the duration of their performance.
Little Thunder got some good crowd support at CA Rumble. Toronto is well familiar with Little Thunder, and aware that they are a good juggling machine, and not too bad either when clashing. Their second round could be described as a “God first” round or “flashback round”, featuring dubs and 45’s like “God Alone” (Little Hero), “Jah Will Never Give The Power to the Baldhead”(original Bob Marley), “Crazy Baldheads ” (Luciano), “Mi Nuh Know How Mi Ago Work It Out”.
Outcast, last but not least for round two, stated that they were the “only West End sound” in CA Rumble, and called Ricky Turbo a “crackhead. An okay round for Outcast, and some boos could be heard from a few upset people in the crowd. The judgement was about to start-round One done.
END OF ROUND TWO by a show of hands, Brimstone Gold is the first Sound eliminated! Six Sounds left!
ROUND THREE (1 Sound Eliminated | 10 mins Per Sound): King Turbo came out with confidence for round Three, likely knowing and sensing that on this night, everybody was chasing them. Their round was highlighted by some Chronixx “We Know” and “Where I Come From” plus some more on stage cheerleading by Capleton. It was clear at the conclusion of the Round that King Turbo had the greatest fan support in the place. They were composed, playing well, having fun.
Steppa Choice followed, and sweated it out for a very hard working round that left little gaps for audience noise. There were no huge forwards for Steppa Choice in this round, despite the acrobatics and confidence.
Don Rankin stated humorously that it was “not easy to stand up here and please black people”. He got a few jeers for this. Overall, a tough round for Rankin with a few boos at the conclusion. In the end, not even his anthems could help resurrect his performance, and Foti Ranks must have been able to sense the slide.
Klymaxx followed Don Rankin, and got off to a good start with some Bounty and I-Octane (“We Run Di Fuckin’ Place”). It was a tough aggressive round that the people needed (it was 2:10 am by now – alcohol and weed setting into the brains and bodies). Klymaxx accused Little Thunder of “trying to trick the people dem” (because they played 45’s earlier). They got a good crowd response at round’s end.
Little Thunder played the analyst again, referring to Don Rankin as a “smoke break” sound (LOL), and calling Ricky of King Turbo a “coke head yute”. People in the place were giving Little Thunder a blie; they were attentive and willing to hear what this Montreal Sound had in store. Little Thunder dropped “Serious Sound” (Linval Thompson), “Mood to Kill a Sound”(Pat Kelly), “Legalize Di Herb” “Badman No Apologize To No Batty Bwoy”(Sizzla), “Neva Fuck a Batty”, familiar dubs to get the crowd on their side. The juggling for crowd was working, people were moving, taking in Mavado “Put Dem Inna Hole”, “All Dem a Talk”, “Dem Nuh Bad Like We”, “Do Dem Sumepn”, and “Putting Up Resistance”(Beres). They dissed King Turbo by stating that Turbo had earned “no ratings” after “26 years in the business”! There were no boos after this impressive round by Little Thunder.
Outcast played a Blessed-Nkrumah combo called “6 Sounds Dead”, but there was not much else gwaaning with speech or tunes for Outcast in this round. Outcast seemed to have a “let’s lay back and let the other sounds eliminate themselves” strategy and to me, were nervously saving tunes. It is my suspicion that they were scoring the night’s performances to a tea, and had calculated that the one sound that was about to be eliminated would not be them; so they decided to cruise conservatively through this round knowing that musically, they wouldn’t have to sacrifice much. In defense of Outcast, I may be totally wrong with this analysis.
END OF ROUND THREE by a show of hands, Don Rankin is the 2nd Sound eliminated! Five Sounds left!
ROUND FOUR (2 Sound Eliminated | 10 mins Per Sound): King Turbo dropped classics as the massive expected in this crucial fourth round such as Dennis Brown’s “Pow Pow Pow Pow”, and Garnet Silk, “It’s Grownig”, Beres Hammond’s “Gonna Send You Home” and another highlight King Turbo dub featuring Buju Banton, “Oh What a Massacre”, bigging up Jane Finch, Malvern and Brampton. Ricky Turbo seemed composed and totally drunk in confidence during this round. There was one memorable moment for me where he sent a big compliment to Metro stating with a big smile, “Slingshot you a di wickedest slector inna di world”. A Nice response after a round that all saw man a roll up pon di stage (to rewind a chune) and loose him smartphone in the process until it was to his surprise it was later returned to him.
Steppa Choice played next, and hurt themselves by stating how unlike Outcast, they “don’t believe inna obeah”. The massive had seen the ‘obiah’ card drawn before on Outcast and didn’t care for it. Their dubs were ringing but not connecting, and they had to turn it up in the end with anthems. An okay round, a few boos for Steppa Choice, who needed more cardiovascular.
Klymaxx had their best round here and the crowd seemed mesmerized by their presentation of dubs and how they were standing up to the favourite and more experienced King Turbo without any fear. You could hear the whistles blowing and the crowds cheering during speeches and dubs, no boos. A solid round for Klymaxx.
Little Thunder was up next and as analysts, tried to diss Klymaxx but got booed for it. They tried impressing to the crowd that Outcast was “going home”, and that it would be “Little Thunder and King Turbo” – who they referred to as “13 man on stage a jump up”, in the final tune fi tune. Little Thunder may have sensed their demise during this round, it is here where they first showed signs of running out of speech.
Outcast played a local customized dub that ‘missed’ in this round and they knew it. Much of their performance was distracted by a little scuffle that almost started to the right of the stage, killing the vibes for the sound according to their mics man. I don’t know if it was just me, but Outcast, instead of stepping it up, was just ‘there’ during this pouncing round.
END OF ROUND 4: 2 Sounds are Eliminated (Due to Time Constraints); Steppa Choice and Little Thunder.
ROUND FIVE (3 Sound Remain | 1 Sound Mut Go! | 10 mins Per Sound):
Round Five was very entertaining and another solid Round for King Turbo. Again, a less aggressive style for the Sound. King Turbo was controlled, confident, poised, and very much in sync. This was the best I’ve seen Ricky Turbo in years, his head was clear, he was articulate, and having fun. He would exercise his bragging rights and get a forward for it, responding to those who accused him of abandoning his sound then “running back” to it by stating that in the process he’s travelled and seen the “streets“ of places such as “Amsterdam, Germany, and Nairobi”.
Next up was Klymaxx, who kept unleashing solid and timely dubs with a fearless confidence. Klymaxx would prove to be one of the most consistent sounds of the night, and had stepped it up in timely fashion. Outcast had what appeared to me to be a shaky round, almost like the clash was losing them. They more or less seemed uninspired, and did not bring forth any original speeches to kill King Turbo and Klymaxx. Outcast made one error that even though caught quickly, almost helped bury them; they almost prematurely ‘waved the white flag’ when they stated near the end of their round that they were about to play their “last tune for the night”.
END OF ROUND 5: Klymaxx Gone! A Footnote: Outcast was eliminated on MC Ninja’s first count, then Ninja, for whatever reason, did a re-count and switched it up to Klymaxx being the eliminated sound. Why was Ninja pressured to do the vote a 2nd time? Not sure!
FINAL ROUND 6: Tune Fi TUNE: First Sound to win 7 Tunes is champion!
01. King Turbo wins Tune 01
King Turbo leads 1 vs Outcast 0
02. Outcast wins Tune 02
King Turbo 1 vs Outcast 1
03. King Turbo wins Tune 03
King Turbo 2 vs Outcast 1
04. King Tubo wins Tune 04
King Turbo 3 vs Outcast 1
05. King Tubo wins Tune 05
King Turbo 4 vs Outcast 1
06. Outcast wins Tune 06
King Turbo 4 vs Outcast 2
07. Outcast wins Tune 07
King Turbo 4 vs Outcast 3
08. Outcast wins Tune 08
King Turbo 4 vs Outcast 4
09. Outcast wins Tune 09
King Turbo 4 vs Outcast 5
10. King Turbo wins Tune 10
King Turbo 5 vs Outcast 5
11.King Turbo wins Tune 11
King Turbo 6 vs Outcast 5
Big up King Turbo for winning CA Rumble. At one point they were ahead 4 -1, then Outcast came back took the lead before King Turbo dropped two dubs in a row to win the clash. This was a victory well deserved, and Canada is once again ready to rally behind this legendary sound as the world clash stage approaches later this year. Good luck to the entire crew, and again, congratulations to all of the presenters, organizers, participants and fans who made CA Rumble 2016 a truly classic event.
Footnote: I will update this article with the list of tunes played during Tune-fi-Tune, just waiting on the Sounds to confirm a few names/titles with me. Please email email@example.com if you spot any inaccuracies in this review.
Pics by Lisa West and Ron Nelson . Video & Review by Ron Nelson