Tag Archives: benga

Dubstep goes pop

As a genre, dubstep has reached a precipice. With successive releases by Rusko and Skream, and the highly-anticipated released by Magnetic Man around the corner, the mainstreaming of dubstep appears to have begun. The beats are still aggressive, the bass is still wobbly, but the music is easier to digest, due in large part to trance-like diva vocals. Unlike the darker, groovier luvstep, this “popstep” is just that – suitable for larger audiences ready to dance. Here are a few of the songs (and videos) you need to know:

Rusko, with a little help from Dirty Projector Amber Coffman, broke the scene wide open with “Hold On.” And if the crowds in the video are any indication, he may be on to something. All of a sudden, his upcoming Britney Spears collaboration makes a lot more sense. Also of note: his remix of Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro.”

Magnetic Man, the dubstep supergroup formed by Brits Skream, Benga and Artwork, has scored a top ten hit in the UK with “I Need Air.” The trio destroyed the crowd at Hard NYC, a performance that certainly converted non-believers.

The next single off Magnetic Man’s October 4 debut is the shifty “Perfect Stranger,” featuring UK funky chanteuse Katy B. The song alternates between downtempo verses and a breakbeating chorus, and it closes out Magnetic Man’s recent Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1.

No mention of Katy B can be made without also dropping her solo single (over a Benga track), the addictive “Katy B on a Mission.”

For fans of electronic music who want to see the scene grow while also maintaining some sense of musical integrity, popstep is a way forward. While it may be anathema to dubstep purists, wouldn’t you rather see the likes of Rusko and Skream headlining three nights at the 9:30 Club?

Skream and a summer of dubstep

Dubstep pioneer Skream has a busy summer ahead of him. The 24-year old producer (born Oliver Jones) had two of the biggest bangers of 2009, with his remix of La Roux’s “In For The Kill” and his original composition “Burning Up.” His 2010 is set to meet and exceed those heights.

Benga, Artwork, and Skream are Magnetic Man

First up is new material from Magnetic Man, the dubstep supergroup comprised of Skream, Benga, and Artwork. Readying their debut full-length, the trio will drop lead single “I Need Air” on July 26th. The single, with vocals by Angela Hunte, has cross-over written all over it. Magnetic Man will also be hitting major summer festivals, but alas, none in the US.

When not recording and performing with his partners-in-grime, Skream is preparing for an August release of his second full length, entitled Outside the Box. As a treat for fans, he recently dropped four free tracks on Twitter.

The Freeizm EP (a play on earlier Skreamizm EPs) contains two originals and two remixes. “Cut Like a Buffalo” gives an ominous, garage-feel to the Dead Weather track. Pitchshifted vocals on “Show Me Love” are attributed to “Robert S” – instead of club queen Robin S – on a reworking of the dance classic (and TGRI theme song).

On his original compositions, “Pitfall” is more harder-edge dubstep and “Minimool” is sweeping future funk (not quite minimal, as the title would suggest). Are these Skream’s best tracks? Not by a long-shot. But they whet the appetite of fans waiting for an album full of bangers like these:

Dubstep Dossier: Benga

Dubstep is a genre defined by bass. So what happens when a dubstep producer adds other bass-centric music – like Baltimore club – to the mix?

Seminal dubstep producer Benga‘s latest EP, Phaze One, does just that, laying down eight Bristol-meets-Baltimore bangers. Benga (real name Benga Adejumo) has been producing tracks since 2002, when grime first evolved into dubstep. His Diary of an Afro Warrior is a genre-defining record, full of stuttering two-step beats, ominous synths, and of course, heavy doses of stomach churning wobble. His breakout track was 2007’s dubstep anthem “Night,” a collaboration with fellow dubstepper Coki.

For fans of his earlier work, Phaze One does not disappoint. Most of the tracks cover familiar bro-step territory, like the grimey “eyeTunes” and “Your Band (Descending).” Even “Rock Music,” which starts with uncharacteristic timpani and strings, devolves into an abrasive grinder. But the most surprising tracks are where Benga play outside of his usual sandbox.

The EP is bookended by two tracks that would feel right at home in Baltimore. The succinctly titled “Baltimore Clap” combines a steady beat with a rising synth-line and some pulsing sub-bass. “No Bra, No Panties” may be the better combination of styles, with it’s airhorn-versus-sawtooth melody and lyrics that consist of “No bra / no panties / you playin’ yourself.” This one is definitely ready for the club, whether you’re in Bristol or Baltimore. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.