Dubbed ‘The Return’, Reggae Sumfest 2022 featured the much anticipated Global Sound Clash which was held at the Pier I Entertainment Complex alongside the ocean front in Montego Bay, Jamaica. A Sumfest 2022 pre-event, the Global Sound Clash certainly lived up to the hype as Jamaica’s Bass Odyssey sound system emerged victorious after the dust had settled in the wee hours of the early morning. Bass Odyssey was victorious after defeating selector Mattia and his Warrior Sound, which took the coveted Global Sound Clash trophy home last year.
Sound systems—which are massive audio setups to which turntable decks, amplifiers, and stacked-up speakers are strung together— began to sprout across the Jamaica’s musical terrain in the 1950s. Oftentimes, sound systems have been analogized to as mobile discos/radio stations that traveled from community to community in Jamaica to promote and play music fresh out of the studios on the island, underground music that was in demand but not yet playing on the radio, or to ‘buss’ out up-and-coming artists to the mainstream. Against that backdrop, sound systems served as a testing ground for DJs (‘sound men’, ‘sound boys’ or ‘selectors’) on the sound systems. What’s more, sound system selectors DJs often clashed against each other or played their best selections for audiences in an attempt to win approval of crowds that would gather on street corners not only in Jamaica, but also abroad.
In the beginning at Global Clash, there were five battle ready sound systems vying for musical supremacy by way of selecting the best tunes for the massive audience that had gathered on the sprawling lawn to witness the musical skirmish—Jamaica’s Silver Hawk and Bass Odyssey, Germany’s Warrior Sound International, Guyana’s Exodus Nuclear, and Canada’s Mystic Sound.
Photos by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.