About 2 Blow: Dubstep
Artist: RWD

Its been murking the underground for more than a minute but now, thanks to mentions in the Sunday Times, Dazed & Confused and the Independent newspaper, It looks like dubstep is set to do a D&B; and go global. Martin Clarke breaks it down.

This time last year dub step was a compact offshoot of garage, keeping itself to itself in underground London’s margins. One year on and dub step is being hyped by British broadsheet newspapers, has an international following and its vinyl outsells grime. What the hell happened?

It wasn’t a fluke but you could hardly have predicted it. The rapid expansion of this dark, bassy and dub-influenced sound began early last year from within a core collective of artists. First there was the anthem Midnight Request Line by Croydon wonderkid Skream that by the sheer sharpness of it arpeggio-hook caught new fans. Soon Roll Deep and DJ Gilles Peterson were on it while DJ Zinc had done a D&B; refix. There was also Digital Mystikz’ and Loefah’s Brixton club night DMZ that became so successful they had to upgrade it to a bigger room half-way through the night, when 600 people were stuck outside. The tireless work of the DMZ trio (Mala, Coki and Loefah) both in building a night with mass appeal and through the breadth of the musical spectrum they produce catalysed the scene. "DMZ has helped massively as has Rinse and Barefiles.com. In terms of the music, I think Digital Mystikz, Loefah and Skream raised the bar massively in the last year and a half," explains DJ Kode 9.

Then came Radio 1’s Mary Anne Hobbs. Dubstep had the sound, the momentum and the ideas: she had the global audience and she brought the two together with explosive results in her Dubstep Warz special January this year. With one show, she changed the face of dubstep forever.

The new audience find a scene in rude health. Each of the DMZ collective have a rich individual sound while other DJs who have played at DMZ have their own styles. Kode 9 mixes grime into dubstep and incorporates vocals with his MC, Spaceape. Look out for their debut album this autumn on Hyperdub. Skream sets have become increasingly energetic, upping the momentum. His tunes are to be found in Hatcha and Youngsta sets, two master DJs who are also very responsible for how the scene sounds today. DJ Distance has followed his own path, building on his breaks and metal influences to build dark, riff-based riddims. Skream’s mates Benga, Chef, Walsh and N Type are all worth watching.

Yet this year’s biggest event came from a complete unknown. From somewhere in south London appeared Burial, a secretive producer with a rare gift for heart-wrenching melodies and dark decaying textures. Without a press officer, marketing budget or even excess MySpace hype the eponymous album on Kode 9’s Hyperdub became an underground fairytale, eventually ending up in broadsheet newspapers. “The Burial album is urban music that doesn’t shout for attention but seduces you slowly. It’s intricate without being over complicated. It’s impersonally emotional so doesn't limit itself to a specific location,” says Kode 9.

Dubstep’s increased profile has taken the scene far beyond its south London roots, with nights in the US, Brazil, Australia and major cities across Europe. Want to know what this expansion means to dubstep heads? Ask Skream, who hit NYC this year. “New York was out of this world... sick. To be that far away from London and still hearing tracks go off like they do at DMZ was unbelievable. The crowd was so hyped. Meeting (Public Enemy’s) Hank Shocklee was an honour too.” On several of his trips to the UK, Baltimore’s Joe Nice has proven himself to be an A-list DJ with strong selection and unmatchable stage presence. New producers like Headhunter, Kromestar, Quest and Zomby are all coming through. With strong roots, dubstep has a healthy future.

Martin Clark aka Blackdown and Ammunition present The Roots Of DubStep (Tempa) out now. Catch About To Blow on MTV Base on August 27 @ 6pm

5 Dubstep Longplayers to Look Out For:

Burial - Burial - Hyperdub

DJ Distance - LP - (forthcoming on) Planet Mu

Skream - LP - (forthcoming on) Tempa

Kode 9 and Spaceape - LP - (forthcoming on) Hyperdub

Various - Dubstep Allstars Vol 4 (mixed by Hatcha and Youngsta) – Tempa

RWD Magazine


10 Jun 2007, 13:18
dubstep is seriously sick shit i love dis shit its like drum and bass with reggae mixed at garage speed half tempo its 2 heavy look out 4 my future realeses im gonna b a big dubstep producer trust me hyperdub tempa tectonic get on my shit quickly im lookin on a label no longage
23 Nov 2007, 16:05
yeah dubstep is wicked - i've been producin it for 2 years or so now since i first got into it - check my blog

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