Ten years ago, I went to New York for World Clash and witnessed Rebel Tone winning the championship. Disappointed that I would not be attending Global Clash this year, I found myself heading down to Borderline (18 Automatic Dr., Brampton) on Friday, where a last minute “send-off” for King Klepto Sound (the only Canadian Sound on Global Clash) had been advertised (blasted by BBM) featuring a barrage of local clash sounds who were supposed to pass through to ‘pay tribute’.
I arrived at Borderline shortly after 2:30 AM, greeted by a semi-empty parking lot, a sign that the event more than likely flopped. I didn’t care and so what if there was absolutely no security (people inside could by carrying), I was in a vibe for something dirty and gritty and judging from the handful of hooded ‘thuggies’ outside, I knew I would get exactly that.
The event was poorly attended, but it didn’t matter to the thirty or so people inside – most of whom were sound men from the clash fraternity just there to hang, drink, smoke, rinse dubs, talk shit and support Polly and his King Klepto Crew on the eve of Global Clash. The vibe was interesting when I stepped in, Super Gold was playing (Sniper had just finished playing a hard set – of which I missed) and Blaxz Dun Da Place was making his statement with music (not much to say) before stepping out to another function.
Next up – Rootsman Sound. When they started playing, people who were standing outside started re-entering the venue as Chuckie (Rootsman Selector) was bored and had entered clash mode. Boldly calling names of other soundmen there on the property. He called out Sniper and Mystic, challenging them to come defend things if they dared. Mind you, all of this action was taking place with smiling faces – everyone was having fun and completely in their ‘soundmen’ element. The fact that I was there with my camera, snapping pics, only made things more interesting.
Chuckie kept his set short, but, it was entertaining and Mystic played next. This, to me, was the most fun I had had all night. Tyrone (Mystic Selector) is one of the funniest selectors in Canadian Dancehall, especially when you ‘draw him out’ – a glutton for punishment. I had actually missed Tyrone’s ignorance and offensive mannerisms in the dancehall. Mystic, however, is clearly no longer a contender in the Toronto clash race – the thousands of dollars needed on a monthly basis to maintain their clash engines just isn’t there.
But, take away the tunes for a minute and Mystic deserves credit for being one of the most funniest clash ‘mic’ talkers still in Toronto – nothing but jokes for what seemed like a five minute time span where Tyrone fumbled to switch from the Serato hook-up used by Rootsman, to the CD set-up that he needed! During that time, the Mystic selector cussed everybody, accusing everyone in the place of sabotage and just like Chuckie, was quick to call names using his tranquil badman-comedian style. Everybody laughed during Mystic’s set, but nobody was threatened musically, as clearly, quality tunes were lacking.
After some confusion about who was to play next, Sniper walked into the dance and played as short yet effective set – mostly sticking to one or two riddims that made sense. Fatman (former Bigga Boss selector, now playing with Sniper) didn’t seem to know how to chill even though everyone was having ‘harmless’ fun – his verbal assaults during his set told everyone that Sniper Sound, when called, could still ‘bring it’. Besides, Big Roy (Sniper owner) was there, positioned by the bar, taking it all in, conscious that the paparazzi was in the house.
Sniper worked to earn their forwards during their set, which lasted less than eight minutes before selectors announced that they had played their final tune. They then grabbed their gear and walked out the dance, with full support from the applauding crowd who now were all having fun. A boring night had become somewhat interesting. Next up? Rootsman.
People wanted Chuckie (Rootsman) to “defend it”. Chuckie had pure smiles. He was having too much fun, and enjoyed being “targeted” by Sniper, who had fearlessly called out Rootsman in their answer-back Round. Chuckie played lazy at this point, not getting any forwards, and not caring. He wasn’t supposed to talk the mic, but when he did, he proved to be fairly entertaining, cracking jokes about his competition and getting some laughs, but overall, just wanting to play tune.
All this time, Tyrone (Mystic) was waiting to play, but Diplomat was in the house, another sound I hadn’t heard play in a long time. Diplomat had dubs, experience and confidence. The easily paced themselves though an entertaining round, most of which I missed when I slipped outside to hang for a few minutes. When I came back in though, I knew something had gone right, as the vibes in the place were tun up!
Back to Tyrone (Mystic) — he was still waiting to play, but now another sound, Vertex, was in the house. I’m not sure what the selector’s name was, but it wasn’t Breadfruit, instead a young, light-skin brother who came across as authentic, cool and refreshing. He was there to support Polly, yes, but as he walked up to the DJ-area to set up, the same Tryone, feeling instigator-ish (lol), insulted Vertex by mocking their sound name into the selector’s ears (he had not even put on his first tune) while the mic was on and he was exiting the stage. Everyone in the dance heard him refer to “Vertex” as “Kleenex” after their name was announced.
The move brought the best out of the Vertex selector, who, unlike Tyrone, had chunes to back up his badman speech. At one point, the Vertex selector, playing the sound alone, earned a big forward when he convincingly threatened to take care of Tyrone by simply “seeking him out” and “shooting him”. Even Polly Famous had to leave his corner and pause the the dance so he could announce in front of everyone, his opinion that Vertex Sound should be played by this impressive new selector only – not “fat Breadfruit” (Vertex main selector) as he put it.
Sorry for Mystic, Tyrone tried coming back when he did get to play but he came off fairly disorganized in a musically boring round. I still give him credit for making memorable speeches however, at one point, responding to Vertex’s badman threat by stating, “You seh you a badman but you a nun real badman cause real badman don’t play sound”. That speech traveled home with me, as it is a rather brilliant point.
In responding to Rootsman, Tyrone made a speech indicating that the “light skinned” Ranger needs to get “lotion down”. This, comically, stopped the dance. Ranger had to defend himself, and took the mic from Tyrone to address that and a few other points not meeting his approval. Said Ranger, “That’s it, as a matter of fact, you nah play nun more, mi know you happy for your one date for the year, but you muffin play again”.
Ranger also called out Sniper, expressing his lack of respect for this sound because they(Sniper) disappointingly said “no” to a recent invitation from Rootsman to clash them one-on-one. I laughed when I heard Big Roy fire back from his front-row bar chair. Stated Big Roy, “I said “no” cause I ain’t gonna clash you for $400”! I had a good chuckle at this point, as Sniper had a point there, why should his sound clash for $400 – nothing short of an insult if that’s really what Sniper was offered by Rootsman Promotions.
That was it for the dance, Polly put on one final tune that he said Tyrone was “looking for all night” that he “couldn’t find to play”, and that was it. It was now fifteen minutes past four am, and my work was done. I asked Stitch (King Klepto owner) and Chuckie (Rootsman) if they were making the trip to New York to support King Klepto, but neither of them would be going. In fact, other than Polly, out of the 25- 30 or so people there (two women showed up in the later hours), I could find only one person who said they would be going to New York for Global Clash.
I also snooped around to find out who the promoter of the night’s event was, thinking to myself, this could’ve been a proper event designed to raise funds and support for King Kepto. My research told me that it was King Klepto’s party, and that Stitch (King Klepto owner) was the owner/operator of Borderline (no money lost). I wished Polly good luck in Global Clash, then exited, time to drive back to the East.