Jah Works wins in Japan

Observer writer

Monday, June 11, 2018

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For over 30 years, Japan has been a strong market for reggae and dancehall music. The success of Japanese sound system Mighty Crown has inspired many home-grown 'sounds'.

Garfield “Chin” Bourne, of New York-based promoters Irish and Chin, knew he had a winner on his hands with Japan Rumble last Saturday night. Held at Bay Hall in Yokohama, it saw four sound systems competing for a place in the World Clash final.

Jah Works, from Osaka, emerged winner.

“Japan plays an intricate role in modern day sound system culture. They have been major supporters of Jamaica's dubplate industry for decades. Japan has also been a strong market for reggae and dancehall music overall for many, many years. I wanted to keep a 'Rumble' in Japan to continue the trend that Mighty Crown has set, keep Japan visible under the World Clash umbrella and discover new champion sounds hailing from that region,” said Bourne. “The objective of the Rumble series and World Clash brands is to create a global movement of new champion sound systems from vibrant markets throughout the world.”

Sota “Oga” Ogwa of the 18-year-old sound Jah Works, described competing in Japan Rumble as rewarding.

“The feeling of defeating some of Japan's brightest sound stars is huge. Right now, it's all about Jah Works,” said Ogwa. “I entered because I wanted my sound to be a representative of Japan's rich sound system scene. I also want an opportunity to represent Japan on the World Clash stage.”

Jah Works entered a clash in Jamaica four years ago. Ogwa credits that experience with giving him and his colleagues an edge in Japan Rumble.

The other competitors were Fujiyama (the defending champion), Independent, and King Jam.

Bourne declared Japan Rumble a success.

“It was phenomenal. One of the greatest things about Japan is, the crowd gives the competitors so much energy — pure sound clash entertainment. The sounds performed very well...some better than others. The sounds have truly perfected speech, delivery, stage performance and humour, especially Fujiyama and Jah Works.”

Next in the Rumble series is Euro Rumble on June 23 at U Club in Wuppertal, Germany.

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