Tag Archives: dubstep dossier

Dubstep Dossier: B. Rich

Like most liquors, dubstep can be enjoyed on its own but really shines when combined with complimentary flavors.* While some producers choose R&B and B-more club mixers, others opt for electro and house. Pittsburgh’s B. Rich is one producer making such club-ready dubstep cocktails.

B. Rich (aka Barrett Richards) is another ex-club kid obsessed with bass. His tracks bounce with the non-stop beats of electro, the ravey synths and vocals of house, and the machine-gun wobble of dubstep. A song like “Killin It” on his Make Me Dance EP bangs with a best-of-all-worlds approach.

Lost among the superb remixes by Nadastrom and Dave Nada, B. Rich’s remix of Udachi’s “P-Funk Skank” is a fantastic 90s meets 00s take on the underground hit. And while he pulls from all types of EDM, hip-hop is also a defining characteristic of his sound. Just check the “Pop Bottles” sampling on the recently released “We Ball Harder.”

B. Rich has remixed and been remixed by A.C. Slater and the Trouble & Bass crew, who he’ll be joining tonight at U Hall for the T&B monthly basstravaganza. This hour-long promo mix, featuring previous Dubstep Dossier features Redlight and Doctor P, finds B. Rich moving all along the electronic music spectrum. So check the mix, grab a drink, and meet us on the dance floor.

* All alcohol-related inquiries should be handled by our friends the Edukatorz.

Dubstep Dossier: Mensah

Dubstep is coming of age when our appetite for new music exceeds the output of our favorite musicians. As most producers forgo full-length albums for the drip drip drip of singles and EPs, the thirstiest fans seek out new music, carefully distinguishing oasis from mirage.

For fans of Bristol uber-producer Joker, newcomer Mensah appears to be the real thing. His Untitled Future Funk EP contains six heavy slabs of the purple-toned dubstep Joker is known for. Throughout the EP, melodic synth waves cascade over shuffling, two-step beats. Mensah’s toolbox isn’t limited to the staples of the sound, however. On “Rock City,” a grungy, distorted guitar riff collides head-on with a exotic synthlines. For a genre known for aggressive, mosh-pit sounds, the guitar is criminally underutilized by Mensah’s peers.

The simply-titled “Acid Dub” is the most dancefloor-ready cut. “Come with me,” it implores, down a rabbit hole of big beat and jungle, before opening up onto a vista of halftime house. The track is aggressive without being abrasive, a fine line that many dubsteppers have trouble walking.

While dubstep devotees wait for the next release from the enigmatic and elusive Joker, producers like Mensah are more than happy to develop the genre. So check out this sick mix that he put together for Disrupt on Inc. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.

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.

Dubstep Dossier: Deadboy

Meet Deadboy, another Londonite successfully mining the sonic territory between dubstep and UK funky. Over just two EPs, Deadboy is forging ahead with a sound that joins the lush soundscapes of Joker and the pulsing grooves of Geeneus.

Deadboy’s U Cheated EP relies on insistent percussion, warm waves of synth, and vocal house loops. The tracks are infectious and bass heavy – big slabs of dark disco. The broken two-step rhythms of the crunkish “Brock Lee Riddim” and the catchy vocals of the title track come together on “If U Want Me,” a single released last month.

His recently released Cash Antics Vol. 1 continues to push the genre forward, taking mainstream R&B songs and turning them into purple people eaters. Deadboy applies different treatments to two tracks by R&B chanteuse Cassie. “Official Girl” becomes “Unofficial Girl,” leaving the vocals intact but injecting a funky rhythm and sweet and sour synthesizers into the mix. On “Long Way 2 Go,” Deadboy pitchshifts the vocals, drops the tempo, and sprinkles wobble all over the chorus. Different approaches, similarly enticing results.

The highlight of the EP, however, is Deadboy’s take on Ashanti’s “Way That I Love You” which becomes a true dubstep ballad. The original’s descending piano lines are replaced with shimmering chiptune synths, and once again, the vocals are altered to give the song more warmth. The result is moving, melancholy, and powerful.

Dubstep Dossier: Starkey

This year, Valentine’s Day meant more than just flowers, chocolates and ham-fisted attempts at romance. It also marked the release of Luvstep, a long-awaited mixtape by Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix on the Mad Decent Radio podcast. The Luvstep mix codified a developing trend in dubstep and bass sounds, away from the metallic and industrial and towards the melodic and orchestral. Introducing the mix was Philadelphia’s Starkey, a DJ/producer whose sonic output fully fits within the luvstep realm, even if he opts for the grimier “street bass” descriptor.

Starkey’s debut full-length, Ear Drums and Black Holes, released last month on Planet Mu, is a monument to how far dubstep has come. Throughout its 15 songs, Starkey pays tribute to two-step, garage, grime, and all the musical seeds that have cross-pollinated to form dubstep in 2010.

On opening track “OK Luv,” waves of shimmering synths and chiptune effects build over a stuttering shuffle, a pattern that repeats on tracks like “11th Hour” and “Four Dimension.” “Stars,” the first single from Ear Drums, puts the warbling synths and vocals by Anneka in the front of the mix for a chilled-out feel. Starkey does get grimey, too, opting for pnuematic, grinding bass and epic, siren-like instrumentation on tracks like “Spacecraft.”

Rappers Cerebral Vortex and P-Money turn the clock back to the grime glory days, reminding rappers, both underground and mainstream, that these gurgling instrumentals are the perfect complement to rhymes, once you master the two-step rhythms. Starkey proved this on his remix of Gorilla Zoe’s “Lost” for the ATL RMX album.

With dubstep producers like Rusko and Skream bringing back the rave, the scene needs a producer to advocate for luvstep. If Ear Drums and Black Holes is any indication, Starkey is more than capable. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.

Dubstep Dossier: Deathface

Bloghaus duo Guns ‘n’ Bombs broke up last summer, jumping off the electro bandwagon right before it careened into the next wave of EDM. Their last release, the funky dubstepper “Samba Death Squad,” hinted at the dark things to come for one of its members, both sonically and thematically.

Johnny “Love” dal Santo now goes by the name Deathface. The recent Trouble & Bass signee grinds out heavy, death metal-influenced bass, tracks that are perfect for a dubstep mosh pit. Imagine Salem but sped up for the dancefloor; demonic industrial that would make Al Jourgensen proud. Check out his grimly-titled “The Blood Has Gone Black” mixtape. It’s a balanced mix of originals with killer remixes, like his throbbing take on “Cumbia” by the Mexican Institute of Sound.

Deathface’s debut EP, The Horror, was released on Tuesday, and it proves that Goth kids don’t just have to look menacing outside Hot Topic – they can get in on some hands-in-the-air raving, too. Demonic shrieks and semi-automatic drum fills complement the familiar breakbeats and wobble of dubstep. When Satan wants to party, he listens to Deathface.

Deathface is on his American Gothic Tour and stops by the Temple of Boom tonight as part of the Trouble & Bass DC takeover. As if a bill with the T&B crew, AC Slater, and Mad Decent’s Mumdance wasn’t enough.

Dubstep Dossier: Pariah

Pariahs are despised, rejected outcasts. Hopefully, fledgling UK beatmaker Pariah will not suffer the same fate.

Arthur Cayzer is a 21-year old London university student who has only been producing for a year, but his talent belie his age and experience (despite his limited output). Signed to veteran Belgium dance music label R & S Records, Pariah is already making a name for himself with music that borrows from dubstep, UK funky, house, and future hop.

His first release, “Detroit Falls,” transforms a classic soul sample into a churning glitch fest. The track’s construction is reminiscent of an artist from its titular city: the late, great J Dilla. Bits and pieces of the original sample are interspersed with low end and synth chirps, creating a cohesive sound that satisfies both dubstep devotees and hip hop heads.

“Orpheus,” the b-side to “Detroit Falls,” keeps the tempo consistent but moves towards funky and house as Pariah re-works Thelma Houston’s disco classic “Don’t leave me this way.” It’s an “a-ha” moment; while other dance remixes of the track have focused on the upbeat chorus, Pariah opts for the yearning vocals of the verse. It’s a perfect fit for the syncopated, tribal beat.

Pariah also tried his hand at remixing, starting with his fellow countrymen, Ellie Goulding and the XX. His remixes of “Under the Sheets” and “Basic Space” present UK funky takes on songs that have already been remixed ad nauseum. For an extended look at his DJ skills and range, check out the bass-heavy mix he did for Sonic Router. The mix includes tracks by vets like Martyn and L-vis 1990, along with a hint at what’s to come from Pariah.
With such an abundance of promising young UK producers, it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. But if Pariah continues to release tracks like “Detroit Falls” and “Orpheus,” it will be that much easier. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.

Dubstep Dossier: Redlight

After exploring drum-and-bass producers who have taken the dubstep plunge, I was not surprised that another up-and-coming bass producer was among their ranks. This week’s Dubstep Dossier is dedicated to a producer you need to know: Redlight.

Redlight, the DnB DJ formerly known as Clipz, first appeared on my radar when Rusko dropped his track “My Love” (among others) in his Mishka Mix. Between the catchy house vocal, funky rhythm, and big drops of “My Love,” Redlight looked like someone to keep an eye on. (PS If you still haven’t copped that Rusko mix, it’s essential listening. I’ll wait for you to go download it.)

The Bristol-based producer released the Lobster Boy EP last fall, and the four track EP builds on the promise of “My Love,” bringing together elements of dubstep, funky, breaks and grime, with a Caribbean feel that speaks to dubstep’s origins. If you’re a fan of Major Lazer’s dance floor alchemy, Redlight’s material will be just as infectious.

The tracks are dance floor killers. “Pick Up The Phone,” featuring Jenna G & Jammer, even adds a touch of club to the mix, while “Kid Soldier” is all wobble, Redlight turning knobs like a NASA controller. The reggae-rave of “Feel So Good,” commands the crowd to “wine up ya body… move to the riddim.” Check the video:

The highlight of the EP is “Be With You,” which will have audiences alternating between daggering and old school raving. The beat is a consistent engine as the song shifts between toastmaking and vamping.

Redlight’s newest single, “Stupid,” features singer Roses Gabor and pushes further into UK funky, while maintaining enough low-end for true bassheads. The video is a psychadelic, tribal dance-off. To quote Liz Lemon, “I want to go to there.”

Between his output and hosting his own “In New 1Xtra DJs” program on BBC Radio, Redlight names EDM heavy-hitters Skream, Toddla T, Jack Beats, Goldie, Carl Cox, Pete Tong and Annie Mac among his fans. Not bad company to join. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.

Dubstep Dossier #2

Dubstep and drum-and-bass are kissing cousins, so it’s no surprise to see DnB producers slow down their breakbeats and get in on the subsonic fun. Both lend themselves to massive, enveloping tracks where bass, drums, and synths build and crash like the soundtrack for the Apocalypse, just at different tempos.

Mt Eden, a producer out of New Zealand, has successfully made the transition from DnB to dubstep by remixing and reworking a wide range of tracks. The key for Mt Eden (real name Jesse Cooper) is finding songs with a solid sense of atmosphere and melodrama, qualities that are accentuated by the addition of some wobble: Bat for Lashes’ “Daniel” and Imogen Heap’s “Let Go,” for example.

His track “Sierra Leone” relies on a sample from Freshlyground’s “I’d Like,” adding the original’s trademark ohhs and ahhs to an oscillating bassline and a jumpy backbeat:

Back in the UK, DJ Fresh (of DnB collective Bad Company) also seems to be moving in a dubstep direction. “Fight,” off his upcoming record Kryptonite, features cinematic strings and somber female vox until the chirps and squeals of a tortured synth enter the picture:

Dubstep pioneer Skream‘s nods to DnB are more apparent. His remix of La Roux’s “In for the Kill” (already a dubstep classic) descended into ravey madness with a huge breakbeat. His remix of Zomby’s “Float” is an even more overt DnB revival. The track (with its hilariously cumbersome title “Skream’s I was in infants school where were you in 92 mix”) is monumental: when the bass drops, you just may float off the dance floor:

With the emergence of dubstep and the re-emergence of drum-and-bass, songs that borrow from both genres are sure to be a staple for bass fanatics everywhere. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.

Bonus! Crossover Alert: Caspa – dubstep legend and frequent Rusko collaborator – lends his remix skills to Ludacris’ dance floor sensation “How Low” with fantastic results. Caspa replaces the original’s electro accents with a more bass-heavy feel, and gives the chorus a grinding beat that sounds just like the club-tech of Nadastrom’s remix of “A Milli.” Apparently, you can get even lower with dubstep.

Dubstep Dossier #1

These days, it seems as if there is no escaping the grimy hold of dubstep, from its syncopated garage beats to its nihilistic basslines. The subsonic sound, after percolating overseas for the better part of a decade, is finally coming of age and gaining wide acclaim and acceptance in the US. We at TGRI have done our part to educate and illuminate, and our message remains the same: don’t fear the wobble!

With that in mind, I’m launching the Dubstep Dossier, a new column that will highlight some of the exciting new music that is loosely joined under the banner of dubstep. Rather than let The Verge get choked up with bass blasts, the Dubstep Dossier will try to keep up with a scene that is on to the next one by the time I hit ‘publish.’

Detractors often point to a stereotypical, melody-less aural assault and dismiss all dubstep as sonic noise. As with any musical style, some people do it right and some do it wrong. Bass for bass sake is nonsense; the strength of quality dubstep is the set of outside influences that each producer and DJ brings to the table.

The biggest dubstep tune of late is Doctor P‘s “Sweet Shop.” It lit up the floor, both at Rusko’s recent Baltimore gig and Tittsworth’s set during Scottie B’s Birthday at the U Hall, and is a perfect example of dubstep alchemy. While it launches with a piano-driven loop, house breakbeat, and ravey “take me higher” vocal, “Sweet Shop” quickly descends into a brutal breakdown: a machine-gun synth over a simple, mosh pit boom-bap. Alternating between the two styles creates a schizophrenic dance floor experience, like dropping Ecstacy and sipping syrup back-to-back.

If house-dubstep crossovers are not your thing, how about we bring back the mash-up? Dubstep can be a terrific backdrop for hip hop; the early 2000s garage/two-step scene had a symbiotic relationship with the grime scene, featuring artists like Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, and Kano. Putting hip hop heavy hitters over dubstep mastery by Rusko and Joy Orbison is a no-brainer.

Rusko x Outkast x Lil’ Wayne:

Joy Orbison x Lil’ Wayne:

Dubstep is here to stay, so stay tuned to the weekly Dubstep Dossier and you won’t feel lost and confused when your favorite DJ drops a true Bristol banger. And remember, don’t fear the wobble.