A history of dubstep

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 05, 2012

Over at The Verge wub wub wub skztch wubwubwub Joe Flatley Flatley wub wub wub pzzzzt wub WUBB wub Flatley wub wub wub shares the history wub wub wub wub wub wub fwizzort WUBWUBWUB of dubstep here comes the drop

For our purposes, we can begin the story of dubstep at the turn of the 21st century, and with UK garage and two-step; weird, hybrid music that features elements of house music (popcorn snares, glittering high-hats) and a lyrical style that is almost a parody of American hip-hop glamor and excess. "Champagne, Versace and Moschino," as Zed Bias once put it.

Recently I talked to Damian "Dieselboy" Higgins, the Brooklyn-based drum and bass DJ, producer, and head of the record label Human (and its dubstep and electro imprint Subhuman). Higgins has been on the front lines as long as America has had a rave scene. "Drum and bass kept spawning these micro-cultures, or micro-genres," he explained. "[There was] two-step, and then grime, and dubstep was the next one. For me, I felt like it came from drum and bass. There are a lot of drum and bass guys who jumped ship and went to it."

Drum and bass is one of those primarily English forms of dance music that, even today, still sounds alien - the fast tempos (generally well over 150 beats per minute), the intricate syncopation, and the full-on synthetic sound has never been fully accepted by mainstream American ears. Two-step garage took house music and added the foreignness of drum and bass. Or, perhaps conversely, it took drum and bass and added enough elements from house music as to not alienate the ladies in the clubs. It was a form of dance music that was indigenous to London, and for a moment in the late 1990s it was arguably the underground sound of the UK.

Wub wub wub. Wub.