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What we thought would be a niche genre in the scene is now a widespread phenomenon in the music world in general. The name dubstep first came to life to describe bass driven electronic music back in 2002 in a town called Croydon, located in South London. As we quote Moby, “Dubstep is a descendant of jungle, an early ’90s, very fast form of EDM with reggae and breakbeat influences. Jungle morphed into drum and bass, and then there was an offshoot of that, two-step, which slowed the basslines way down. Heavy metal and hip hop, interestingly, share the same tempo, around 75 bpm. Dubstep is an amalgamation of the two.”
So, according to Moby it does make sense for Korn to merge dubstep sounds into their nu metal brand. Their new single, ‘Get Up’ featured a collaboration with Skrillex and some fans have slammed the guys for selling out but there are some, like us, who really think their progression of merging dubstep with metal is a perfectly logical move. “We were dubstep before there was dubstep,” said Jonathan Davis in an interview. “Tempos at 140 with half-time drums, huge bassed-out riffs. We used to bring out 120 subwoofers and line them across the whole front of the stage, 60 subs per side. We were all about the bass.” Korn’s 10th studio album, The Path of Totality sees them working with the aggressive electronic genre’s top producers, from poster boy Skrillex to Noisia. The album also signifies dubstep’s first official merge with its obvious cousin, hard rock. So far it’s a hit and miss affair but we say kudos to the band for attempting a different approach to their music.
Indeed dubstep has crossed over to the mainstream market and made its way to the pop music world at the same time. Britney Spears’ camp decided to experiment with dubstep in her 2010 single, ‘Hold It Against Me’ and we’ve got to say, it didn’t sound as bad as we thought it would but where should the lines be drawn? News of Justin Bieber claiming that his upcoming album will contain some elements of dubstep does not sit well with a lot of people, including us. No doubt in the electronic scene itself, dubstep predecessors like Magnetic Man have made the music acceptable to a wider audience with tracks like ‘I Need Air’ hitting the top 10 of the UK charts. Their debut album made it as high as the #5 position in the UK charts as well. Their album, Magnetic Man features collaborations with pop stars with the likes of Ms Dynamite, Katy B and r&b sensation, John Legend. Ollie Jones aka Skream of Magnetic Man (and obviously Skream & Benga), mentioned in an interview that “the word ‘mainstream’ just means something’s more popular. It means that a lot of people like the music, so a lot of people are buying it and a lot of people are requesting it. I guess it’s like, I’m not bothered. I’m happy that a lot of people like the music. I don’t want to keep it to myself!”
Londoners Nero are also riding along the mainstream wave and excelling in it by taking hits of the past, like The Jets’ ‘Crush on You’ and Hall and Oates’ ‘Out of Touch’, and dressing them up in the style of the moment. Their first single, ‘Promises’ off their debut album, Welcome Reality reached number one on the UK singles chart too.
Even house music honcho, Laidback Luke has claimed that blending dubstep into house will be the “vibe for 2012”. In an interview with Express & Star, the Dutch DJ declared “One of the bigger things that seems to be happening now is the definite crossover of dubstep into house music. Swedish House Mafia vs. Knife Party’s ‘Antidote’ is a good example for this.”
While some may think that Skrillex’s five Grammy nominations, including one for Best New Artist, a bizarre move by the music academy, we think, why the hell not? Maybe the Grammys were attempting to reach out to the youth demographic that every awards show so desperately desires by giving Skrillex a Best New Artist slot. Or maybe they simply wanted to acknowledge the rise of dubstep by awarding him five nominations; no one really knows. But what we do know is that dubstep is getting a whole lot of attention which it deserves.
Dubstep predecessors, Skream & Benga (2/3 of Magnetic Man) will be hitting the decks of Vertigo Club on 11 January for the NSFW Tracksuit Party with local scene leaders Monsoon+ and Bud Culture. Find out more at www.facebook.com/livescapeasia.