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Red Bull Culture Clash

Source: Courtesy of Red Bull / Red Bull

 

Four DJ crews went head to head on May 19, for the Red Bull Culture Clash New York showcase at Brooklyn’s famous venue Warsaw and they pulled out all of the stops too.

Throughout the night team Apocalipsis, Club Cringe, Half Moon, and CORPUS revved up the audience with an electric mix of DJ sets and performances, spanning from hyper pop, reggaeton, dance hall, and even hardcore. The competition was fierce as the crews battled to outshine the opposing teams with their banging beats and unique flare over four distinct rounds. The crews brought a few heavy-hitting special guests to help them win over the crowd and in the end, one team reigned supreme, taking home the massive Red Bull Culture Clash trophy. MADAMENOIRE had the honor of being in the front row for the entire event.  In case you missed it, here are a few highlights.

 

DJ Dana Lu 

Before the show, we had a chance to catch up with DJ Dana Lu of Apocalipsis, a collective of DJs, activists and producers pushing to re-distribute equity in the music industry. She’s also a member of New York’s world-renowned Heavy Hitters DJ collective led by iconic Hot 97 radio personality DJ Enuff. The producer brings an amalgamation of flavors to her energetic DJ sets and production filled with Dance hall, Soca, Reggaeton, and Bachata—all of which pay homage to her diverse roots growing up in the Bronx, Washington Heights, and Newark throughout childhood.

“My career reached a major milestone when I became a Heavy Hitter. Some years back, I started connecting with Heavy Hitters, especially since I worked closely with a few of them (and still do) back in 2018,” Dana Lu told MN. “The honor of being a Heavy Hitter is unique because this is not a collective that just adds anyone as a member. One has to work hard and make a name for oneself in this game to even be considered. We have legendary DJs in the squad and I am privileged to be a part of them.”

The Dominican DJ has been shaking up NYC’s nightlife scene with her daytime party Tacos Y Cerveza, an event she created with friends to bring “people who like great DJs, tacos, and beer” together. Dana Lu has brought the party to a number of venues across the city, but last year she and her teammates celebrated a huge milestone when they were able to release their own beer to fans and partygoers thanks to a partnership with the Bronx Brewery.

Her favorite taco you ask?  “Despite no longer eating meat, Cecina tacos will always hold a special place in my heart. But I’m also a sucker for spicy vegan chorizo tacos,” she said.

In 2020, Dana Lu released her debut EP “Girls Having Fun” which lit up dancefloors in NYC with Afro-Latin infused bangers like “BestFriend” and one of our favorites “Tocame Papi.” She told us she was “extremely proud” of the project for many reasons.

“It typified my sound and style as a DJ and as a producer. The process of combining genres into one and making it sound good is quite challenging,” Dana Lu explained.  “I worked on this project for a few years before it was finally completed. Once I narrowed it down to the final four I decided it was time to release it. Stay tuned for Girls Having Fun Vol 2.”

While nervous, the DJ and producer said she was looking forward to setting the stage off for the competition, and we were reeling with excitement to see her in action. Even though she’s used to playing in front of massive crowds, Dana Lu said those pre-show jitters still set in from time to time.

“The day when I don’t get nervous before performing in front of a large crowd I will retire,” she joked.

 

Showtime

Around 8 p.m. rambunctious attendees began flowing into Warsaw, ready for the competition and dressed to the nines in fun and funky attire. Former Clash winner Jubilee warmed up the dancefloor with tropical riddims as crowd growers began flowing in, eagerly waiting for the excitement to start. Four stages were placed in the corners of the room for each DJ crew, and some of the teams went all in decorating their stages with graffiti, national flags, and imagery showcasing their identities and heritage.

 

Before you knew it—it was time to start the show. For the first round, the DJ crews went toe-to-toe impressing the crowd with their native sounds. CORPUS, a Queens-based music platform, and label kicked off the competition hyping up the crowd with trap music and hardcore rap, but the group’s set was almost overshadowed by a few technical difficulties. Their performance was followed up by New York’s Club Cringe, whose music was anything but. The gang dialed up the energy with an extreme club mix that featured gabber punk and fast jolting bass.

Apocalipsis, representing the Bronx and Manhattan, went next, blowing the audience’s mind with a carefully crafted blend of reggaeton, moombahton, and diasporic sounds led by DJ Bembona, a mainstay in New York city’s Afro-Latin club scene. Carrying colorful flags repping their diverse Puerto Rican, Dominican, and LatinX roots, Apocalipsis came out swinging with their best and they had the crowd jumping, so much, that they were able to secure the win at the end of the first round.

Brooklyn’s Half Moon stole the show during the second round with an energetic mix of Jamaican dub music and classic dance hall cuts from Red Rat’s “Oh No” to Shelly Thunder’s hit “Sorry.” If you are from New York, it felt like the crew was transporting you back to a bashment party off of Flatbush. Crowd goers moved and swayed along with dancers as they, dropped, pulsated and wined up their hips to the infectious beats, but it wasn’t enough to top Apocalipsis, who swept the second round from underneath their feet.

The third round was all about “sleeping with the enemy.” All four teams had to play in the opposing crew’s style and Apocalipsis knocked it out of the park again, putting their Latin spin on CORPUS’ grungy hip-hop and chaotic punk rock adjacent sound.  There were a few other strong contenders, too like Club Cringe, who managed to make the audience mosh along with their hardcore mash-up influenced by Apocalipsis’ tropical energy, but in the end, only one team could win and the crews brought out a few special guests to help them cross the finish line.

 

The final round

The tension in the room began to heat up towards the end of the show, with crews taunting and throwing friendly jabs at one another over the mic as the competition came to a close. Apocolipsis kicked off the final round with DJ Dana Lu at the helm along  with some star-studded support from M.O.P. who sent the audience into overdrive with their classic smash “Ante Up.” Crowd goers let off noisemakers and blow horns cheering the group on as they battled it out for the win. Half Moon raised the stakes with a few dance hall icons representing Flatbush, while Club Cringe performed an original club banger spearheaded by the group’s co-founder Angel Money.

CORPUS almost won the crowd over with an energetic performance courtesy of Mobb Deep’s Havoc who had folks’ head-nodding in unison to “Quiet Storm,” but in the end, it was Apocalipsis who took home the grand prize and the honor was well deserved. The DJs put up consistent energy every round. You could feel the hard work and dedication they put into each set and performance. It was definitely an unforgettable experience.

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