Dubstep

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From 2-Step Garage to Post-Dubstep

Keeping up with the ever evolving and quickly fading pop music genres is quite a skill. Typically, many current genres originate in music subcultures that exist in somebody’s garage until the mainstream music industry and media unearths them or, as it increasingly happens in these days, they garner a cult following on the Internet.

Dubstep, now a well established form of electronic dance music is one such genre that evolved in South London, U.K. The origins of Dubstep go back to 1998.

“Dub” refers to the mixing and manipulating of existing music recordings. In this genre, another underground style, 2-step garage, was incorporated with drums and bass elements to produce a deep, dark sound with a wobbly, barely there rhythm that quickly became known as dubstep. Typically, the instruments played to produce this sound include an electronic keyboard, drum machine, turntables, sequencer, synthesizer and personal computer.

Dubstep stepped into the limelight in 2001 at Plastic People, a London nightclub, on their “Forward Night”. Many more people got to hear the genre in 2003 when it was publicized by the British DJ, John Peel, on BBC Radio 1.

Dubstep also got plenty of coverage in the print media from music magazines like The Wire and e-publications like Pitchfork Media. By the end of the decade, dubstep had crossed national boundaries and its influence could be seen in the work of many mainstream pop artists.

Music producers took dubstep further by incorporating newer influences, giving rise to dubstep offshoots electro house and brostep (dubstep blended with heavy metal), which struck  a chord with American listeners.

With its usually dark, sometimes dissonant or aggressive quality that defies easy judgement, dubstep invites plenty of debate. Is it a mere sub-genre of electronic dance music? Or does it represent the music of a new generation? While aficionados swear by it, others dismiss dubstep as lacking the depth and class of older genres like rock and blues that still enthral music lovers.

The best way to decide is, of course, to check out a few albums. You could start with Skillrex (Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, My Name is Skillrex) and deadmau5 (4 x 4). Also check out Skream! and Outside the Box by the Croydon-based dubstep producer, Skream.

Once you’re familiar with the genre, you’ll be able to spot the presence of dubstep in the music of mainstream pop artistes like Britney Spears’ (“Hold It Against Me”,) Rihanna (Rated R) and Magnetic Man (“I Need Air”).

Arguably the most fascinating aspect of dubstep is its flexibility in absorbing ever more musical influences and regenerating itself. New offshoots that have sprung forth in recent years are often clubbed together for convenience as post-dubstep.

Time to tune in!

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