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and its dynamic top man Pink Panther
walked into the pages of dancehall history
on Monday night when they copped the Squingy Cup, the symbol of supremacy for the final staging of the Death Before Dishonour sound clash
, which was dubbed The Final Warr.
Before the traditional full house of local and visiting dancehall fans, which converged on the Pier One Complex in Montego Bay, the victorious Black Kat initially struggled as Sentinel, a classy sound from Germany, dominated the early stages of the contest, which also featured Japan's Mighty Crown, two-time champions Bass Odyssey and brash newcomer Bredda Hype of St Elizabeth.
However, when the contest boiled down to what was a memorable 'dub for dub' showdown with Sentinel and Black Kat, Black Kat's veteran selector Pink Panther drew on the full range of his vast experience to pull the crowd in his corner, stinging his opponent with hard-hitting dub plates, which had the patrons in a screaming frenzy.
When the final announcement was made against a backdrop of blaring horns, flaming aerosol cans and rippling screams, there was absolutely no question that the voting, which was done by acclamation, was substantially in favour of Black Kat.
"Squingy (the late selector for Bass Odyssey) was my friend, so I could not allow a cup named in his memory to be taken away by a foreign sound," said Pink Panther in Black Kat's moment of triumph. "We had to do it for Jamaica tonight ... I could not let down my people."
The contest, which started on schedule at midnight, began without one of its six advertised contestant as Tony Matterhorn failed to show, reducing the final field to just five contestants. However, except for numerous mentions of his name in various dub plates, the usually feisty Matterhorn was not really missed.
Without any chance of being eliminated, most of the sound systems appeared casual in the first round. However, the fiery Sentinel used the opportunity to make its mark and really got the crowd going. Its front man, Deejay Caddy, belied his German origin as he showed off his intimate knowledge of local 'runnings'.
Knowing that one of them would be eliminated at the end of the second round, all the sound systems went into overdrive in the second stanza, taking potshots at each other as 'disses' flew swiftly and furiousy from both the microphone and dub plates.
Sentinel again stood out as, first, they dazzled with a dub plate with the voice of hip hop star Jay Z, which was later described as a fraud by Black Kat; and second, Deejay Caddy brought a lady onstage, who after jokingly declaring herself to be Pink Panther's mother, said Panther had 'funny' tendencies from he was a baby.
While the second round brought joy for Sentinel, whose point man Shotta Paul was both energetic and 'vibesy', it also brought anguish and disappointment for the inexperienced Bredda Hype. After failing to rouse the crowd with a lacklustre set, the crowd turned on them, declaring that they should be the first sound system to be eliminated.
With Sentinel clearly having the advantage after the first round, the other surviving sound systems went after them in a blazing second round. Bass Odyssey, Mighty Crown and especially Black Kat were all quite stinging as the barrage of 'disses' and expletives intensified.
However, Sentinel remained robust, defending itself with potent dub plates, which were primarily aimed at Black Kat and Pink Panther. At this stage of the contest, controversy threatened to creep in as after emcee Garfield 'Chin' Bourne, of the promotion duo Irish and Chin, declared that Mighty Crown was to be eliminated. The crowd reacted with emphatic bouts of, "No!", "No!", "No!".
To defuse the situation, the decision was nullified and a one-dub play-off initiated between Bass Odyssey and Mighty Crown to decide which sound system should go and which stay. By acclamation, Mighty Crown was still eliminated.
In the fourth round with just three sound systems left in the battle for supremacy, the tide began to swing towards Black Kat as, while Bass Odyssey remained flat, Sentinel began to lose momentum as it struggled to match the fiery dub plates Pink Panther was reeling off for Black Kat.
Pink Panther, who was clearly in his element at this time, really began to step up his game, wreaking musical havoc as he unleashed dub plates such as an unforgettable Peter Tosh done to the late reggae superstar's hit song Legalise It.
When the fourth-round dust finally settled, the crowd clearly had no choice but to bid Bass Odyssey farewell as while they had a pretty decent round, reeling off dubs from the likes of Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Busy Signal and Super Cat, Black Kat and Sentinel were clearly large and in charge.
In the deciding dub-for-dub championship showdown between Black Kat and Sentinel, it basically became a case of taking candy from a baby as the wily Black Kat romped the best of ten tune-for-tune shoot-out.
Sentinel tried desperately to win back the crowd, reeling dub-plates such as Toots and the Maytals
on 54-46; Junior Byles on Vanity; Barrington Levy on Rock and Come In and Beres Hammond's Putting Up Resistance, but the crowd would not budge.
However, it was all pandemonium when Black Kat responded. With Pink Panther at his lyrical best, it took the dub-for-dub showdown with relative ease, dazzling with dub plates from Icho Candy's Bad Boy Sound; Coco Tea's Eighteen and Over; Dennis Brown's Revelation and a blazing Garnet Silk entitled, It Over.
It came as no surprise when Black Kat was declared the winner, giving the last hurrah to the resolute Pink Panther, who raised his clenched right fist in triumph as tears trickled from the corner of his eyes.