We didn't buy out the crowd - Japanese sound system defends winning clash

May 17, 2017
Desem (left) and Masa from YardBeat Sound System hold on tight to their trophy.
Desem from YardBeat entertains the crowd at a staging of Boom All-Star Sound Clash.
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Coming off their recent win at the Boom All-Star Sound Clash, winners of the four-tiered battle, YardBeat Sound System, visited THE STAR to clear up suggestions that their fan base came out of nowhere.

"We put a lot of time and energy in the clash, so we don't want nobody misunderstanding the Japanese sound," Desem told THE STAR. "We used to travel all over the world, do Europe tour. We are the first Japanese sound to go to Africa, as a Japanese sound. We went to New York and take the trophy. After that, we reach Jamaica."

Since their success at the Boom All-Star Sound Clash, YardBeat found themselves being accused of 'buying out' patrons. However, local sound system manager Tall Boss of Di Unit, begged to differ and, instead, advised that Jamaican selectors study the music since foreigners are now dominating them on their own turf.

"These selectors are only playing songs that are current. You must learn to play music outside of your era. That is why I have my selectors study the music. We have to get familiar with music from the '70s and '80s, and not just 'top-ten songs'," he said.

 

SOUND SYSTEM CULTURE

 

Grabba Fire, a Jamaican representative of YardBeat, echoed these sentiments, imploring Jamaican selectors to give more attention to the foundational make-up of the sound system culture.

He told THE STAR that YardBeat merely did their homework, through research and by playing at various dances across the island.

"This is not a Japan versus Jamaica thing. Some people take it personally. Some people start saying the Japanese trying to take over the business take over dancehall or trying to buy out reggae music. The point is, this is a music thing. It's not a money thing. It's our passion. Some people think we spend a lot of money and buy out this event," said Desem, who first visited Jamaica 23 years ago.

While YardBeat's success seems sudden, Desem said it took a lot of work for them to get to this stage. He said he played with various sound systems for 13 years before deciding to get behind the turntables. He said he also spent a lot of time trying to understand the Jamaican culture and music.

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