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A brief history of Red Bull SoundClash

© Jeremy Deputat/Red Bull Content Pool
As we head into a new era of SoundClash, discover how the ultimate sonic smackdown has evolved since 2006.
Written by Glen FerrisPublished on
SoundClash competitions originated in Kingston, Jamaica during the 1950s. The local Reggae Sound Systems started to challenge each other in order to impress audiences.
A mix of DJing, live music and MCs provided the perfect vibes for holding musical playfights. Red Bull SoundClash adds a twist to this traditional musical faceoff, turning it into a friendly dual between two bands as they challenge each other over four rounds, with the audience deciding the winner.
The first Red Bull SoundClash was held in the Netherlands in 2006. Now, there have been 85 events worldwide:
Noize MC at Red Bull SoundClash in Moscow, Russia.
Noize MC

2006 – Birth of a legend!

Red Bull SoundClash is born with local Eindhoven reggae/ska collective Beef versus hip-hop/funk-repping outfit C-mon & Kypski setting the scene for all future battles.

2007 – Moscow bound

Following a brace of follow-up competitions in the Netherlands, Red Bull SoundClash takes place in Russia for the first time with a raucous gentlemen’s duel between singer/rapper Noize MC and hip-hop star G.D.R.
New Cool Collective and Nobody Beats the Drum perform at Red Bull SoundClash 2009 in Arnhem, Netherlands.
New Cool Collective and Nobody Beats the Drum

2008 – Taking over the world

The year Red Bull SoundClash went truly global with shows in the Netherlands, New Zealand, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Peru, Russia, Australia, Japan and the USA. A hugely diverse roster of competing talent – including the likes of Triggerfinger, Nico Vega, Crash Kings, Elemeno P and many more – solidified the competition’s status as a wholly unique event.

2009 – Bigger and better

A record year with 13 Red Bull SoundClash events all over the world, including seven in the USA and debut appearances in South Africa, Switzerland and Australia. Standout moments included famed soul collective The Roots clashing in Boston with the afrobeat orchestra Antibalas and the legendary Erykah Badu together with the Cannabinoids facing the LA-based rockers Shiny Toy Guns in Dallas.
Tokyo Police Club performing live at Red Bull SoundClash 2010 Boston, Massachusetts.
Tokyo Police Club

2010 – Testing the boundaries

A new decade marked a turning point in Red Bull SoundClash as competitors pushed the envelope to claim victory. Canadian indie rockers Tokyo Police Club took on local rapper Wale in front of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, The Roots battled Shiny Toy Guns in Atlanta, and the competition went to the Czech Republic, Brazil and India for the first time.

2011 – It’s getting Ludacris

Hip-hop icon Ludacris appeared in not one but two Red Bull SoundClashes with challenges laid down to singer-songwriter Mike Posner in Miami and rockers Neon Trees in Atlanta. In the same year, The Ting Tings brought a major party in Las Vegas with a guest performance from the iconic Goodie Mob. Meanwhile, on South Padre Island, an epic duel took place between the one-and-only Snoop Dogg against Texas natives Ghostland Observatory.
Ludacris performs at Red Bull SoundClash at Bayfront Park at The Promenade in Miami, Florida, USA on December 31, 2011.
Ludacris

2012 – European takeover

Red Bull SoundClash was all about Europe in 2012 with shows in the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, Germany, Lithuania and Poland (with a tropical stop-off in Brazil for a clash between Nando Reis and Gaby Amarantos). An eclectic collections of acts – including Greek rockers Mellises, Polish punks Acid Drinkers and Turkish ska-heads Athena – brought all their creativity to bear.

2013 – Going where no SoundClash has gone before

The competition continued to go further with ground-breaking shows in Beirut (with a faceoff between Lebanese bands Mashrou’ Leila and Who Killed Bruce Lee), Cairo (featuring Egyptian acts Cairokee and Wust El Balad) and Dubai (where a returning Wust El Balad took on local outfit Autostrad).
Dubioza Kolektiv performs at the Red Bull Soundclash in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina on December 20, 2014.
Dubioza Kolektiv

2014 – Together through music

One of the most interesting Red Bull SoundClashes ever took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina as Bosnian avant-garde dub rock group Dubioza Kolektiv challenged Serbian alt-rockers S.A.R.S. The two bands from the former Yugoslavia reminded everyone who attended of the healing power of music and the uplifting nature of an awesome party!

2015 and 2016 – Keeping it real, keeping it local

Part of the appeal of Red Bull SoundClash is the opportunity to champion local bands - and 2015 and 2016 were no exception. Shows in Egypt, Germany, Jordan, Pakistan and Taiwan gave standout acts a chance to be heard on a major stage.
Team Reality Check perform at Red Bull SoundClash in Hamburg, Germany on December 12, 2017.
Team Reality Check

2017 – Dream teams

This year saw a true clash of hip-hop generations as Team Reality Check (consisting of German Rap veterans Samy Deluxe, Eko Fresh and Afrob) were challenged by new kids on the block Team New Level (including LGoony, Crack Ignaz and Soufian) in Hamburg.

2018 – Keep on truckin’

The Red Bull SoundClash phenomenon continued to crush with returns to Jordan, Romania, Pakistan and Austria, as well as a debut appearance in Slovakia with a battle between rapper Rytmus and punk rockers Iné Kafe.
Ozols performs during Red Bull Sound Clash in Riga, Latvia on December 4, 2020.
Ozols

2019 – Three is the magic number

Red Bull SoundClash smashed new records with an incredible three battles over the course of three nights in Cairo, Egypt. Fifteen-thousand music fans brought the noise resulting in a huge weekend of great music. Meanwhile, the SoundClash road trip continued unabated with appearances in Russia, Italy, Germany and Poland.

2020 – Ain’t no stopping us now

Despite global events putting up some roadblocks, Red Bull SoundClash adapted and emerged stronger than ever with a pair of hugely successful virtual shows in Latvia and Lithuania featuring the party-rocking sounds of Carnival Youth and Ozols and Justinas Jarutis and Monique.