Red Bull Culture Clash winners Rebel Sound were real firestarters

How Red Bull Culture Clash works

Words: Florian Obkircher

Red Bull Culture Clash – the ultimate live music battle between soundsystems – takes place in London on June 17. Here’s our essential guide…

Red Bull Culture Clash, the biggest musical battle in the world, returns to London on June 17, 2016.

In 2014, Rebel Sound (David RodiganChase & Status and Shy FX) took the Red Bull Culture Clash title, blowing away their competitors with the heaviest sound, the most exclusive tunes, the most on-point disses and a take-no-prisoners presentation.

This year, four new crews will try to outdo one another in four separate rounds at the o2. But, of course, only one can be crowned the winner.

Here’s how it works:

  • At the end of each round, the crew who gets the strongest (and loudest) crowd reaction, wins.
  • For instances where it’s too close to call, decibel readers will monitor the 30,000-strong audience’s noise levels.
  • After four rounds, the overall title is awarded by the judges.

The Crews

Four teams enter the ring. From the outset, it’s crucial for them to demonstrate why they should win.

The following crews are taking part in Red Bull Culture Clash 2016 in London.

Eskimo Dance

Run by WileyEskimo Dance are London’s most notorious grime collective. They’ll be bringing out many legends of the genre as well as some fresh young talent.

Featuring: Wiley | AJ Tracey | Chip | Fekky | Logan Sama | Newham Generals | P Money | President T | Ruff Sqwad | Safone | Solo 45 | Coach: Cheeky | Host: Zacman | Secret guests


Hailing from Brooklyn via Jamaica, producer Dre Skull has rounded up some of the most popular dancehall artists of the hour. Expect to see Popcaan (of Jamie XX’s I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times fame) in his first UK performance.

Featuring: Popcaan (first ever UK performance) | Dre Skull | Tony Matterhorn |Serocee | Spice | Kranium | Jubilee

UKG Allstars

Though UK garage had its heyday in the late 90s and early 00s, its popularity has endured. For Culture Clash 2016, the genre’s heroes will form an all-star alliance to uphold their legacy. 

Featuring: So Solid Crew | DJ Luck & MC Neat | Oxide & Neutrino | Majestic| Foundation

Taylor Gang

Pennsylvania’s Taylor Gang are led by the global sensation that is Wiz Khalifa, who has two Billboard number 1 hits under his belt. Their roster of high-profile rap powerhouses will be able to attract some top-class special guests, too. Keep your eyes peeled!

The Rounds

The crews have to perform their greatest hits, but with a no-holds-barred performance that will win over the audience.

Round 1: Pressure Drop (10 minutes)

DJs play any tracks they like, introducing their style and aiming to win the crowd over early doors. 

BBK smashed the first round in 2014 - check out their performance below…

Check out BBK’s killer first round from Culture Clash 2014.

© Danielml7777/YouTube

Round 2: The Selector (15 minutes)

This is where they need to up the stakes: with any genre or style allowed, leftfield big-hitters are pulled from record bags. Each crew is judged purely on tune selection, so knowledge of what the crowd will react to best is king.

Round 3: Sleeping With The Enemy (10 minutes)

Here, crews play an opponent’s style of music, usually mixed with a healthy dose of diss. But they have to be careful; out of their comfort zone, the potential for failure is higher.

Round 4: Armageddon (5 minutes)

Crews take turns to play the biggest tunes in their bags. Every track must be original and completely unheard, so expect special guests and exclusive one-offs.

Special Guests

In Round 4, as the competition nears its end and the crews make a late bid to claim the win, you can expect special guests galore. Here are four of the best from previous Culture Clashes…

Rita Ora

Rita Ora Culture Clash 2012

Rita Ora appeared at Culture Clash 2012 as Major Lazer’s special guest.

© Wikimedia Commons

Culture Clash 2012 at Wembley Arena was a good one for special guests.

Despite playing her own show at the o2 that night, Rita Ora joined Major Lazer for a powerful rendition of her song Facemelt

Rita had only just arrived at the venue on the back of a motorbike and was wearing a one-piece race suit. Unfortunately for her, the velcro had come apart, and she ended up revealing a fair bit more than she meant to

That she was able to play two London venues on the same night is impressive - maybe one of the crews will try something similar this year?

Katy B

At the very first Red Bull Culture Clash in 2010, Goldie’s Metalheadz crew busted out a specially-recorded dubplate of Katy B’s hit On A Mission – it went down so well that it secured them the win. Two years later the pop star appeared in the flesh as Annie Mac’s special guest.


It was a real goosebumps moment when Usher entered Major Lazer’s stage out of nowhere in 2012, performing his hit Climax. However, Boy Better Know allegedly got wind of their competitors’ special guest, and stole his thunder by playing the same tune right before he appeared. Keep an eye out for these sorts of dirty tactics!


When Disclosure’s signature face logo appeared on the backdrop to Annie Mac’s stage in 2012, the crowd went ballistic. Even moreso when the Lawrence brothers took to the decks and dropped their hit, Latch. Frankly, it’s no wonder they had to demolish Earl’s Court after that…

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06/2016 Red Bulletin

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