Clash culture dying - Lyrical warfare suffering from lack of platform, unwilling artistes

September 20, 2019
 Isaiah Laing
Isaiah Laing
Alkaline – accused of running from clashes.
Alkaline – accused of running from clashes.
Vybz Kartel – his clash with Mavado at Sting is still remembered.
Vybz Kartel – his clash with Mavado at Sting is still remembered.

In recen t times, lyrical clashes between dancehall artistes start out with a bang but have failed to matriculate to the levels of some of the greatest showdowns in local music history.

At least two industry insiders point to the void of a platform for artistes to showcase their lyrical prowess as the main reason.

Sting conceptualiser, Isaiah Laing, and the popular MC Nuffy believe that without the proper channels, clashes will continue to fizzle out before getting fired up.

"Clashes don't have the platform. The most powerful platform for those things was Sting and it nah gwaan again. Nuh Sting not around at the moment and so is like the artiste dem nuh really have nuh interest inna clashes anymore," said Nuffy. "These artistes weh yuh see a clash these days just a dweet because the Internet gi dem dat platform weh missing from Sting but dem nah go ever come out pan stage come face nobody. On stage building lyrics from scratch a different levels of clashing. Dem (nowadays artistes) a nuh no champion. After Mavado and Kartel, there's no other champion when it comes on to clashing because that was one of the last real 'war' inna dancehall."

Laing agreed, saying that since Sting's last staging "Is like the artistes (and the audience) realise say these things nah go nowhere."

"Dem see say it (clashes) are just fi di moment, so dem nah push it," he said. "A now everybody a call for me and a ask when me a bring back Sting because dem know say deh so was the real telling ground. If artiste even do a clash anywhere else, it nah go work because it's not the same as a Sting. If yuh nuh dead a Sting, yuh can recuperate. But if yuh dead deh so, yuh dead fi real."

The last of its kind

Laing expressed that with the interest being shown, he may very well consider reviving Sting, but says if that comes to fruition it would be 'the last of its kind'.

He did not want to get into details but told THE WE EKEND STAR that should the show materialise, all artistes, past or present, who have a score to settle, should book their spots because it would be the 'settlement of all arguments'.

Nuffy challenged the notion that clashes have dwindled because people are no longer interested. He said that if there is ever a reason for the lack of excitement, it would be because most artistes today fear the stage.

"People love clash, and dem always feel the clash but the reason why it nuh go nowhere is because the people dem weh a sing clash song nah go out deh go clash, and that goes fi man like Alkaline. Him do it wid Popcaan, him do it with Kartel and whenever anybody inna di business wah take him on, him run and hide," he said. "You can't be an Internet champion and say yah champion when yuh never go out deh go clash like a Shabba, a Ninja Man or a Kartel or even a KipRich or a Ryno. Yuh haffi go on stage and take on people."

He added: "Dancehall is competitive and somebody always want to be the king, but there is no wearing the crown if yuh can't clash. Yuh haffi clash round here if yuh feel like yuh can take Vybz Kartel king crown."

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