Dubstep is a fascinating ouroboros, constantly re-creating itself in the image of its forebears. One of those ancestors is grime, the similarly bass-heavy, dancehall and hip-hop influenced genre that was sound of the streets of early 2000s London. While Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Lady Sovereign and the Streets became familiar names in and out of the scene, producer Terror Danjah has forged a path from grime into dubstep.
Stateside, a Terror Danjah production is literally the first grime track we heard. Kicking off the seminal Run the Road compilation, “Cock Back” – in true grime style – is a handgun-sampling banger with West Indian flavored rhyming over a shuffling, two-step beat.
Since then, Danjah has stayed busy, with an ever-evolving sound that is now firmly in the dubstep camp. He has released material on Hyperdub, Butterz and Planet Mu, including last week’s double EP Power Grid. Power Grid is a striking achievement, mixing Danjah’s grime roots with funky, minimal and future bass to create orchestral dubstep. Imagine Joker’s purple dubstep with Hudson Mohawke’s sprawling aquacrunk: music that moves and attacks with both force and precision.
Power Grid is instrumental, but like Danjah’s grime tracks, there is a great opportunity for rappers to utilize these beats. Dot Rotten did just that over album closer “Ride 4 Me,” using the pulsing banger for grimey rapping and an R & B hook.
Similarly, Danjah’s remix of Rox’s “My Baby Left Me” is a bubbling cross-over ballad. Leaving the Ronson-esque melody intact, he adds a gurgle of bass during the verses that goes to full jump-up mode during the chorus. It’s getting play on BBC Radio 1, and for good reason.
Before there was dubstep there was grime, and if it’s up to Terror Danjah, there will be grime after dubstep.