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Scheduled as the final Sound clash in Toronto for the year, the All Starz Promotion “Tapout” Sound clash featured Toronto Sounds Rebel Tone versus Sniper Sound (with early juggling by Troyton), all inside 227 Lounge on Sunday, December 29, 2013.

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The clash got underway a few minutes after 1 AM with a scanty crowd in attendance – 70 or so people, mostly local soundmen and a handful of women, and a few dedicated clash fans there to witness a rare one-on-one clash featuring two premiere Toronto Sounds.  This would be the first clash promoted by All Starz Promotion, captained by Fatkat from Super Force Sound. Despite the size of the crowd, people came ready with amplified voices, whistles and noisemakers to ensure having a good time. Yours truly was the MC.

After losing the coin toss, Sniper was instructed by Rebel Tone to play first in a scheduled three 20-minute Round event.  This is when the “tone” of the clash was set. Sniper played first, with Big Roy, owner of the Sniper Sound, standing behind his crew throughout the night.  But staring at the stage, there was something wrong; someone was “absent” from the event.

Sniper’s DJ Necus had shown up to play the ones and twos, but Sniper’s mics man, DJ Bigga Boss was M.I.A.!  As MC, I had to announce that indeed, Sniper Sound had shown up for the “war”, but due to circumstance, they would be warring while “borrowing” the services of a “substitute” selector, MC Cutthroat of Black Magic Sound would be talking the mic for Sniper (same Sound that dropped their laptop minutes before the start of Fully Loaded 2013), with Necus and Big Roy backing him.

Needles to say, this move would prove detrimental to Sniper. The educated audience upon hearing the news initially shared a reaction and feeling of being stunned and disappointed; where was Bigga Boss? Why did he not show up, despite being on record days leading up to the clash thrash talking about Sniper’s ability to damage Newby at Tapout. And where did Cutthroat come from all of a sudden, and why was he Big Roy’s MC of choice? What did Black Magic have to say about Cutthroat’s move, and how would his performance reflect on Black Magic by night’s end? It would be interesting to see how a clash crowd full of politicians and clash “scientists” would react to the rare and unprecedented move of a micsman jumping from one Sound to help out another.

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The audience’s lack of reaction to Sniper’s first Round was a statement all by itself. The crowd was quiet, skeptical, and impossible to please. They would rate Sniper’s performance with a very high level of difficulty, and give them no forwards for their entire twenty minute set, the people seemed content standing with hands in pockets or drinks in hand while socializing at the bar.  Some were waiting to be impressed, willing to give Sniper a chance, waiting for Cutthroat to reveal the strategy as to how Sniper would prevail at Tapout. One speech could possibly cement Sniper’s “right” to employ a substitute micsman to represent them in this clash. One speech could make clear why micsman Bigga Boss was missing in action, but none of this ever happened.

Sniper’s first Round was mediocre at the best, and despite playing dubs that would normally earn any sound a few forwards in a clash, there would be none on this night. When Sniper’s first Round had ended, there was a feeling of relief from the audience, knowing they had witnessed a lame performance after waiting so long for the clash to begin. The speeches Sniper had needed were not delivered, and their choice of a “c-grade” substitute selector would not help them on this night. Cutthroat appeared nervous and lacked in confidence throughout his Round, despite having been blessed with the power of the live mic. Disappointing to all was the lack of quality speech-content during the clash. Cutthroat didn’t come with anything new for Rebel Tone, and resorted to the same critique used against Newby since 2002, referring to him as the “worst World Clash champion ever”!But the crowd had all heard this before, so nobody was impressed. One thing was sure – Sniper had lost the first Round even before Newby played his first tune in the clash! SMH!

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When it was Newby’s turn to play, the audience was giddy as soon as he touched the mic. They had been bored for 20 minutes straight and were now waiting for Newby’s antics and humor and rage to come out and save them. Newby had carefully studied Sniper’s first Round (I don’t think he left for a smoke break in Round 1 – this would change after), and was ready to pounce. His grin of overconfidence could not be wiped off his face, Newby knew that he was clashing a wounded opponent with Bigga Boss being absent and Cutthroat used as substitute, and would not hesitate to rub salt in the Sniper wounds from clash start to clash finish. Newby had certified the clash as a walkover from the moment Cutthroat touched the mic, and he was right.

Dubs aside, Sniper’s use of a substitute selector would prove to be no match for Newby who was more experienced and just plain more entertaining, a showman to say the least. Newby, with eyes on the giant trophy placed next to the DJ table, used speech as his main weapon to destroy and totally humiliate Sniper not only in this Round but in all three of his Rounds. As expected, he used his strong MC skills and stage presence (Newby moves like a performing artist) to spin a 2nd Round web around Sniper that they would not escape from in any future Rounds.

After playing his first dub (a customized Tonya P. “Royal” cover), Newby paused the music, positioned himself beside the trophy, looked into the audience which had suddenly come alive, and announced to them that he had won the clash (“mi win”)! This was a big forward for Newby (he had only played one tune), perhaps his biggest for the night, as the statement reflected what the audience already knew, that it would be Newby’s trophy on this night.

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At this point in the review, it would not be fair of me to go into detail about Newby’s speeches used to snipe out the Sniper Sound. I, like many members of the audience, may have felt some degree of pity for the disabled Sniper. While earning some respect for showing up for the war, there were those who still feel that showing up “unprepared” may have even been a worse decision.

Newby beat up Sniper all night and made them hurt. You have to listen to the audio, because it would be a long review to recount all of Newby’s best moves and speeches. It’s interesting to note that before Newby’s final Round, the audience, unimpressed with the one sidedness and lack of competition, could be heard shouting comments such as “make it a juggling dance – play some juggling tunes”, and “play some ‘Backshot mi Love’ so mi can wine with mi gyal” (LOL).

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I’ll say one thing – witnessing Tapout was like watching a “man” beat up a “boy”, Sniper was no match for Newby, and Cutthroat’s most memorable speech may have been directed at the MC Ron Nelson, but there weren’t any memorable ones directed at Newby, who had likely over prepared and disappointed that Bigga Boss ran from the clash. Previous to Tapout, people had called the clash a walkover, and it only took one Rebel Tone tune to cement this as fact. This clash was literally “over” before it started, and Sniper would lose Round 1 and Round 2, and not even complete their time in Round 3 before literally “tapping out”.

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Newby’s final Round would be cut short, interrupted by Necus picking up the trophy and placing it into Newby’s hands only a few minutes into Rebel Tone’s Round Three.  Newby would anchor his victory by walking out of the dance with the big trophy slugged over his shoulders like a Santa Claus bag, strutting to the dub “Hit the Road Sound Boy, And Don’t You Come Back No More”.  The small crowd that still remained in the event liked this creative final touch, and that was it, the  clash was done, some people scratching their heads as to what happened on this night, and why Sniper showed up only to wave the white flag.

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By the next day, people who weren’t at the clash and even some who were, was still buzzing about Tapout, including many on social networks asking how Newby could have won a clash and only played “25 tunes”.  People could not believe that Sniper Sound, despite their status, experience, arsenal of dubs and having owned one of Toronto’s premier dub plate studios), did not get any forwards or responses for their selection of dubs used at the event. Arguably, in any other town on any other night, those same dubs would have gotten the some respect, but at Tapout, there was no love given to Sniper, why?

The critics then started questioning Newby’s performance. Everyone was in agreement that from an MC point of view, it was clear that Rebel Tone had “won” the clash, but was there a bias-factor at that event, since the level of quality tunes played by Rebel Tone was not that impressive – really, what did he play (check the audio)? Is it possible that after deciphering and analyzing his level of competition, Newby made a conscious decision to hold back tunes?  Clash fans are still left debating whether it is “fair play” for a Sound to win a clash on speech alone.

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In the end clash fans can say all they want, but this was an interesting night of Toronto Sound clash history. Sniper, like many sounds, proved that they have no fan base, and out of the seventy people in attendance I’d say sixty-five of them were there to vote for Newby but many of those same people would have turned on him if Sniper had put up a good fight. Big up Newby, I’m taking nothing away from his victory which was earned, it’s just that in retrospect, it was more like a victory against a farm team vs. a major league contender, a heavyweight verses a lightweight.

Newby can feel good about this event but if what we heard represents the state of his dub box (which clash fans haven’t heard in some time), then from a clash point of view, Newby is still leaves vulnerable as speech and antics in normal case scenarios, is not enough to win clash. As for Sniper, they’ve got a lot a work to do to restore their reputation, having now played beating stick for both Rebel Tone and Magosh Sound earlier in the 2013. Word is that Cutthroat is now a permanent member of Sniper Sound (bye bye Black Magic), replacing Bigga Boss who may have been “let go” by owner Big Roy for his no-show antics. Enjoy the Podcast.


P.S. Find the Tapout Podcast and our ReggaeMania Radio Show(s) Podcasts on iTunes – Just type ‘ReggaeMania Radio’ into their search bar.
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