A sound clash is a musical competition where crew members from opposing sound systems pit their skills against each other. Sound clashes take place in a variety of venues, both indoors and outdoors, and primarily feature reggae, dancehall music. The object is to beat or "kill" their competitors.
In Jamaica, sound clashes, with their "violently martial ethos", date back at least to the 1950s, when systems like Tom the Great Sebastian and Duke Reid's the Trojan clashed in the old Back-O-Wall (now Tivoli Gardens) neighborhood of Kingston. Sometimes these clashes turned violent, with one system destroying the other system's equipment. The first reported clash was between Tom the Great Sebastian and Count Nick in 1952.
Although sound clashes are perhaps most commonly associated with Jamaica, they also form an integral part of Black British culture in London, with early proponents such as Jah Shaka running sound systems and engaging in sound clashes as early as the 1970s. Franco Rosso's 1980 cult movie Babylon offered a look into London's sound system and sound clash culture, focusing on the Deptford and Brixton areas in particular.