Red Bull Culture Clash 2012

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Wiley, Skepta, Jammer before the show

Having previously been held at The Roundhouse, the Clash had levelled up this year, moving to Wembley Arena, where the capacity could increase and the stacks could get bigger.

Four stages, manned by current holders Channel One, Major Lazer, Boy Better Know and Annie Mac Presents made up the 4 corners of the arena and promised a big show – a show of big proportions. This depends on how you interpret the word “show”, of course…

Competing over four rounds, the champion selector(s) are decided by the loudness of the crowd’s reaction to each 15 minute set.

I was sent down to cover the event by Nokia UK in collaboration for the launch of the new Nokia Lumia 920. I was testing out the phone for a 2 week period and to tie in, the Culture Clash provided the perfect event to test out the phone’s camera and video capabilities.

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Annie Mac and her team before the show

Round One – No Elimination

First round, and a chance for each of the crews to get the crowd on side. As expected, the first round didn’t go all out, with AMP featuring Redlight and Disclosure performing some of the year’s biggest tunes. Channel One, as in previous years, kept the crowd going with some select cuts. Diplo and the Major Lazer played their version of current pop hit “Gangnam Style” as he then crowd surfed in a zorbing ball (seriously). BBK seemed to have forgotten to bring the higher bit rate version of the MP3s they were to play, so this round seemed a little subdued for them.

Boy Better Know wear Tempz masks to perform “Next Hype”

Round Two – The Selector

The rules: 15 minutes of music. No guests. No custom dubplates.

So much for rules! These were broken twice with AMP and Disclosure bringing out Sam Smith to perform ‘Latch’ and Major Lazer pulling Stylo G out to perform “Call Me a Yardie”. Don’t get me wrong, Major Lazer is usually seen as something good, but the song choices seemed a little obvious. I was not the youngest in the crowd, so perhaps I’m a little cynical, but come on, pull something out the bag Mr Diplo.

Annie Mac brings on Disclosure with Sam Smith to perform “Latch” – breaking the rules of the round

BBK made complaints about the rule breaking, but no one seemed to listen, but they didn’t care as they started turning up the heat and finesse, as they performed “Dupply, “R U Really From The Ends”. I was up in the stands, and we hadn’t heard much from Wiley yet (apart from speaking to him briefly in the media area earlier in the evening) and I knew it was only a matter of time until he was going to go all out. The crowd was blessed with Mr Wiley going all classic on them with his “getting ‘em hyper” bars and closed out a great round from BBK with ‘Heatwave’ and ‘I’m Skanking’.

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In this stadium atmosphere, Channel One stuck to their roots and as true dons, continued without much of a fuss about the others. DJ Jah T consistent on the decks, whilst the rest of the crew hyped the crowd.

All of this to no avail really – Diplo came out on top and won the round. (!).

Round Three – Sleeping With The Enemy

The section of the stands that I was in, seemed to have been drinking quite a bit by this point, the guy next to us constantly up and down, in and out of his seat, apologising for him and the 2 girls he was with.

Channel One: Brought out a younger MC to the stage. Not much else.

Major Lazer: Performed a section of classic foundation reggae and ska, including a performance by Johnny Osbourne.

…Another secret guest…

BBK flipped a switch, angry with the constant rule breaking, and decided it was time to put heads down, heads on the floor so to speak as they turned on Ms Dynamite and Benga – commenting that they should be on their stage and not Annie Mac’s overblown speaker.

The ultimate burn came when they decided to tell the crowd that Diplo and the ML crew had Usher waiting in the back to come out in the fourth and final round. Earlier in the evening when we had a chance to interview the BBK, they had joked about this and I wasn’t too sure if this could actually be real.

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I turned to my girlfriend as AMP had Maverick Sabre covering a very lacklustre “Wonderwall”, but smiles soon came back as the video screen displayed a spoof of Diplo’s Blackberry advert, the phone replaced with a pink dildo – citing Skrillex reading ‘who’s this? How’d you get my number”. BURN? HARD BURN. Annie brought more heat when a team of fat dancers in gold knickers performed an edit of his hit “Pon de Floor”.

Forgot to tell you, but Tim Westwood was the host for the evening and he announced that both rounds two and three were now void – mainly down the cheating. Perhaps BBK would be happy now?

Round Four – The Final

With the announcement that the final round would be the decider, I’d waged my bets on BBK coming through, ultimately unimpressed with the other corners.

Channel one brought out Luciano.

Annie Mac brought out Ms Dynamite. Katy B and Example.

Boy Better Know brought out Chimpmunk, Giggs, Lethal Bizzle and Arsenal reserve, Emmanuel Frimpong.

Contest? MUCH?

Last, Major Lazer. As Fact reported, ‘Song 2′ and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – WTF? Usher then came out, performing ‘Climax” over the “Staleg Riddim”. Oh, and I just almost forgot about Rita Ora. What happened here Wesley? Seriously.

My ears were still ringing from the war dubs BBK dropped: “Hard In The Paint”, “I Don’t Like” and a special Giggs version of “Talkin’ da ‘Ardest” – Lethal Bizzle for “Leave It Yeah” and “Pow”.

It was time for Westwood to get the final and deciding crowd reaction and, even though we wanted them to, we were surprise that BBK had nailed it. They’d pulled it out the bag and the crowd had proved this. BBK were crowned winners of the Red Bull Culture Clash 2012.

BBK slaying the other three in the final round

…Some people weren’t happy with the result. Actually, let’s say a hell of a lot of people weren’t happy

All the pictures and video in this post were taken with a Lumia 920. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the video recording in low light conditions and having previously heard a lot of good things about the interface of Windows 8 mobile, I’ve probably been convinced enough to think about handing in Android and perhaps experimenting with the Windows look.

I’d like to thank Nokia for the opportunity and the trial of the phone and Red Bull for the hospitality.

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