Tag Archives: dubstep

DC Duos: Cam Jus and Billy the Gent

As Dave Nada’s accidental creation continues to grow, spurned on by a vibrant, global underground fan base, DJs and producers of all stripes are finding their voice with moombahton. Thanks to a simple formula and a rich palette of sounds, the genre is whatever you make of it. That seems to be the philosophy behind two of the biggest names in the scene, DC’s own Cam Jus and Billy the Gent.

Cam Jus has been DJing in DC for a few years now, and his trademarks continue to be his chilled-out personality and musical versatility. Depending on the crowd and venue, Cam is at ease spinning Top 40, electro, dancehall and all points in between. Appropriately, he’s also fluent in that fusing of hip-hop and house music from our neighbors up I-95, Baltimore club. His first remixes were Bmore versions of songs by DMV stalwarts Wale and Blaqstarr, and he’s continued to flip tracks into the frenetic style, like this breakbeat driven remix of R&B crooner Miguel’s “Sure Thing.”

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Miguel – Sure Thing (Cam Jus remix).mp3″ text=”Miguel – Sure Thing (Cam Jus remix)” dl=1]

For a DJ with such an expansive repertoire and diverse audience base, moombahton was a natural fit for Cam. Similarly, his remixes touch on everything from Jay-Z and Frank Ocean to MIA and Sleigh Bells. His knowledge of R&B, new and old, is paying off as the moombahton derivative moombahsoul takes off; he massaged Lisa Fischer’s classic ballad “How Can I Ease The Pain” into something for a new generation of party-goers.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cam Jus – Ease the Pain.mp3″ text=”Cam Jus – Ease the Pain” dl=1]

Cam is also coming into his own as a producer and songwriter, due in no small part to going back to school for audio engineering last fall. Combine his musical knowledge, ear for a hook, and technical skill and you get a moombahton anthem song that screams DC, “Metro Center (Step Back),” off his Nightvision EP.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Cam Jus – Metro Center (Step Back).mp3″ text=”Cam Jus – Metro Center (Step Back)” dl=1]

As Cam Jus was making a name for himself in the DC DJ scene, Billy the Gent was doing the same in different sonic territory. A tattoo artist at Adams Morgan’s Tattoo Paradise, the heavily-inked Billy Bennett cuts an imposing figure that is immediately undermined by his laid back nature. Originally performing as DJ Billfold, Billy was throwing parties from Richmond to DC and dropping dubstep that owed more to its UK roots than its arena-filling ambitions.

But like all DC DJs, it was only a matter of time before Billfold started dabbling in moombahton. The transition was sudden and a bit surprising, but after seeing him man the decks at a few Yuh Sundays with Dave Nada at U Hall, it was clear he had the chops to handle bass from the tropics as well as that from the UK. His production work only reinforced this. His Fr33ky Moombahton EP dropped at a time when everything in the nascent scene was “fr33ky” (a leet-speak version of “freaky”). The highlight of the EP is his syrupy remix of Torro Torro’s electrohouse banger “Knockin’ Boots,” which seems better suited for knocking boots than the original ever did.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Torro Torro – Knockin’ Boots (Bill’s fr33ky Moombahton Edit).mp3″ text=”Torro Torro – Knockin’ Boots (Bill’s fr33ky Moombahton Edit)” dl=1]

Somewhere along the way, Billfold became Billy the Gent, and began focusing almost exclusively on tropical bass. Moombahton’s no pretension, collaboration-heavy ethic is evident in his biggest contribution to the scene. Along with Virginia’s Long Jawns, Billy morphed a sexually charged Petey Pablo sample into a moombahton mating call, “Vibrate.” Then the two sent the track to Miami’s DJ JWLS – an inspiration for the original – who contributed his own remix.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Vibrate 2.0.mp3″ text=”Billy the Gent / Long Jawns – Vibrate” dl=1]

When it comes to moombahton in DC, all roads lead to the Velvet Lounge. Dave Nada’s Moombahton Monday parties are already legendary, with their early adopter swagger and too-cheap tequilla shots. When Dave moved to LA, the party’s absence left a noticeable mark. A few months later, Cam approached Billy about doing a Sunday monthly at Velvet. With promoters Rookies and Nrdgsm in tow, Tropixxx was born (with three Xs, you know it’s fr33ky).

Since January, Tropixxx has quickly grown into a must-attend event. The video for “Pendejas” by Tittsworth and Alvin Risk – filmed at Tropixxx – is indicative of what to expect. Falling on the first Sunday of the month, it’s not for the average weekend warrior, and the pro-am nature of a Sunday night party keeps it packed with only true moombahtonistas.

They might have taken very different paths to get there, but Cam Jus and Billy the Gent are carrying the flame for the moombahton movement, finding their voices just as the city finds its own.

The next Tropixxx is October 2. Before then, the guys will be opening for London house producer Jesse Rose at U Hall on Thursday, September 29. They’re also on the bill for The Rave at the Warehouse Loft (411 NY Ave) on October 8, with special guests Nina Sky.

Review: Nero – Welcome Reality

NeroWelcome Reality (2011) [MTA] // Grade: D

With Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx recording soundtracks for sci-fi epics, it was only a matter of time before an act took it upon themselves to do the same, without the benefit of a film to score. On their debut album Welcome Reality, UK duo Nero aim for such orchestral grandiosity, adding a dubstep flair to the electro leanings of their predecessors. The result is a bloated companion piece for a Michael Bay flick that doesn’t exist.

Welcome Reality is over-the-top and formulaic, as if Nero took every stadium-friendly electronic music trend and simply added dubstep’s wobbly low-end to it. “Doomsday” is Bloody Beetroots’ mosh-pit electro; “Guilt” has the diva vocals and synth stabs of big room trance. Throughout the album, soaring guitar and synth lines battle four on the floor beats in a “cock rock vs. dance music” race to the bottom; the title of the plodding “Scorpions” has to be a hat-tip to the German glam rockers of the same name, right?

Du jour dance styles aren’t the only territory that Nero mines for Welcome Reality. Towards the end of the disc, there’s a suite of songs that rip mid-eighties pop without a sense of irony. Samples of the Jets’ “Crush,” Carmen’s “Time to Move,” and the coup de grace, Hall & Oates’ “Out of Touch,” prove that even your parents can enjoy dubstep!

Released more than a year after lead single “Innocence,” Welcome Reality has little in common with the sparse, luvstep romanticism promised on that track. “In the Way” is the only other time we get something that isn’t obnoxiously cranked to 11, its reverb-laced snares a brief respite from the album’s relentless synthesized explosions. The pair of tracks showcase how an act can combine dubstep’s aggression with poppy, mainstream sensibilities; it’s a shame Nero didn’t do more of the same elsewhere.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Six Feet Deep With Tomb Crew

DJing and producing are two related but distinct skills. Not all beatsmiths can work a crowd, so when DJs with a reputation for destroying raves everywhere from Brixton to Brooklyn start making tracks, you know the beats will be battle-tested.

East London’s Tomb Crew is a perfect example of this. Since 2007, DJs Jamie Floodgate and Nick Bennett, along with hypeman Illaman (aka David Penning), have honed their craft across the globe, playing with nearly every UK bass luminary, including Zinc, Herve, Rusko and Sinden, to name just a few. Tomb Crew approaches DJ gigs like a live act, working the crowd into a bass-rattled frenzy.

After a string of successful remixes for acts including Crookers, Drop the Lime and French Fries, the Crew got to work on their own bass creations. With a sound that draws from all strands of bass music, Tomb Crew blends dubstep, club, kuduro, and jungle into a concoction more potent than anything you can buy at a rave.

This year, they released their first EP on Trouble and Bass, a perfect fit for their brand of bangers. Mixing old school jungle with new school bass, the tracks range from the tropical, horn-driven “Oh So Good” to the divebombing “King of the Tweets.”

On their recently released Watch This EP (on Black Butter Records), Tomb Crew continues to update throwback styles with an emphasis on the low end. “Yaphet Kotto Stole My Steez” – a candidate for best song title of the year – oscillates between housey breakbeats and the group’s trademark wobble (and you can download it for free on Soundcloud). The title track, featuring MCs Rubi Dan and Juxci D alongside Illaman, is a slice of tropical bashment perfect for carnival.

Tomb Crew always rocks Mishka, and the guys had a cameo in the Fall 2011 Lookbook teaser. Keep watch for the collection’s official release, and look out for Tomb Crew at a rave near you.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Put On the Redlight (via Mishka)

Electronic music is constantly in flux, and while some artists can plant a flag and never change their sound, the majority must adapt or be left behind. Case in point: Redlight, who built a decade-long career as drum and bass producer Clipz but now crafts dubstep-bashment hybrids. Certainly not the only – or last – DnB head to slow down their frenetic productions into hulking wobblers, Redlight has found a second life by focusing the over-the-top energy of DnB into something more corporeal.

As Clipz (aka Bristol-based Hugh Pescod), the man now known as Redlight tended towards the melodic side of the rave playground. There is more to songs like “Slippery Slope” and “Sticky” than unrelenting DnB. “Ugly,” featuring vocalist Holly G, is a forebearer of his current sound.

In 2009, Pescod put away childish things and renamed himself Redlight, releasing the Lobster Boy EP. Some of the trademarks of his earlier sound remained, like the breakbeats that fuel “Pick Up the Phone” and “Feel So Good (Wine Up Yr Body),” a tune that relies on singers and MCs to counterbalance eruptions of bass.

The most addictive track on the EP is “Be With You,” which bounces from bashment toasting to a wobbling, house-inflected chorus. Redlight’s handle on West Indian riddims is exceeded only by Toddla T; he puts the dub in dubstep by bringing in Serocee and frequent collaborator Dread MC. This trend has continued: his banger “MDMA” served as the instrumental for Ms. Dynamite’s grimey “What You Talking About?”

Redlight’s evolution continues. Earlier this year, he released “Source 16” and “Progress,” which both feature housey, four-on-the-floor drums and metallic synth basslines. Guaranteed big room slayers, both are far cries from the riddims of the Lobster Boy EP. But with over a decade in the game, whatever Redlight does next – under whichever name he chooses – is sure to be essential bass music.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Mixtape Monday: Kreayshawn / James Drake / Dev79


Kreayshawn X The Bay

This 20-minute tape by El Paso’s Nato Vato Taco mashes the Based Goddess‘ tracks with classic Bay Area beats and verses by the likes of E-40, C-Bo, Luniz, Mac Dre, Dru Down, C.I.N, IMP, and Potna Deuce. The result is equal parts hazy and hyphy, a reprieve from constant replays of “Bumpin’ Bumpin'” and “Gucci Gucci” (the latter of which has been pulled off YouTube for a mysterious Terms of Service violation). At the very least, it will help you with your Kreayshawn fix until Mishka/Clan Destine release Murdered in Memphis (teaser below).



Bombé & Mr. Caribbean – James Drake Mixtape

Another mash-up mixtape, this time blending the music of James Blake and Drake. While not relevant since at least The Grey Album, creations like this capture the zeitgeist like a firefly in a bottle: fleeting, but fun while it lasts. Exploitative? Sure, but the common ground between the two artists puts a new spin on old favorites. Blake’s R&B influence lends itself to Drake’s lazy boy rapping, and DJs Bombé and Mr. Caribbean dig deep into Blake’s catalog for some understated combinations.



Dev79 presents Street Bass Bootlegs

Here’s another angle on rhythm and bass: grimey, street bass remixes of radio rap songs. Everyone from Wacka Flocka to Gucci Mane to Daddy Yankee gets the hood-step treatment. Highlights include BD1982’s remix of Aaliyah’s “If Your Girl Only Knew” and the 6blocc edit of the Rye Rye / Starkey collab “VHS Go.” I’m increasingly weary of anything resembly dubstep remixes, but Philadelphia’s Dev79 has the low end under control; check out his take on the Travis Porter hit “Make It Rain.”


Download: Kreayshawn X The Bay
Download: Bombé & Mr. Caribbean – James Drake Mixtape
Download: Dev79 presents Street Bass Bootlegs

Future Grooves: Gladkill

There is nothing quite like discovering a new musician in a mixtape. Sandwiched between familiar tracks, this quick glimpse of a previously unknown talent is exhilarating. Recently, I experienced this while listening to the second half of the Luvstep 2 mix, with a track called “Eastbound.”

The artist behind this slice of luvstep, with its barely-there beat, purple synths, and fragmented moans, is Gladkill. The New York DJ is the type of producer I used to feature when this column was still called Dubstep Dossier. Gladkill’s music falls in the dubstep-bass-glitch space popularized by the Bristol scene. But while that type of music has become derivative and exceedingly unpleasant, Gladkill has stuck to his guns, infusing his tracks with a strong sense of melody.

Last year’s Ghostwork EP is a perfect example of this, with melodies that range from dreamlike (“Lucky Me”) to romantic (“That Girl is Trouble”) to haunting (“Memories”). For fans of subtle applications of midrange wobble, any of the six tracks on Ghostwork will do the trick. The mood is chilled out, but with a current of energy that prevents the music from becoming ambient.

That current has been amplified on Gladkill’s latest EP, LoveLost. As the title suggests, this is a melancholy affair, but with the optimism and hope of someone coming out of a depression. Compared to Ghostwork, everything sounds bigger, from the synths on “Statis” to the bass of “Out of Your Comfort.” A highlight is the grower “Just a Thought,” which gently echoes along before revealing a layered finale.

Gladkill’s music is luvstep at its finest, capturing the contrast between bass-heavy dubstep and the more melodic side of electronic exploration. Discovering it on Luvstep 2 was more than just luck.

Future Grooves: Flinch

The dubstep genre is always evolving. On one end of the spectrum is the emotional, mellow sounds identified by Flufftronix and Dirty South Joe on their Luvstep mixes. On the other end is the preponderance of heavy, aggressive sounds known dismissively as “brostep.”

Brostep is a derisive nod to the bro-heavy audience that yearns for non-stop, facemelting, power-tool beats. Rusko, whose popularity and dalliance with harder sounds contributed to its development, has even apologized for brostep. To put it crudely, the pissing contest of producers and DJs crafting the most brutal beats possible cannot hold.

But what of the wobble? Who can carry the torch of hard-edged dubstep without falling into the silliness of brostep? Enter Flinch.

Adam “Flinch” Glassco is an electronic music veteran, crafting bass heavy music for over a decade. Like many of his peers, he started in the drum-and-bass world before slowing things down with dubstep.

The Trouble and Bass associate (who headlines U Hall’s monthly T&B party tomorrow night) is a master of dubstep that is as melodic as it is aggressive. The label’s eleventh edition of its Heavy Bass Champions of the World series featured one of the hottest bass bangers in recent memory, “Hiero.” I once described the track as “throwback jungle breaks [and] a bass blast that hits like an 18-wheeler;” I stand by that.

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Hiero.mp3″ text=”Flinch – Hiero” dl=”0″]

Flinch and frequent collaborator 12th Planet have found remarkable success on remixes like Jinder’s “Youth Blood” and Dave Nada’s “Apocalypse Theme,” tracks that sit at opposite ends of the dubstep spectrum. The latter is especially notable for finding a way to make the Apocalypse even more foreboding than Nada did on the original.

There is a fight for the soul of dubstep. Luckily, there is a way for bass to survive without being reduced to the demands of the lowest common denominator. For fans of the occasional fist-pumping wobble, Flinch ably answers the call of “Hiero” to “take me higher and higher.”

Bonus: stream Flinch’s Smashcast mix for Trouble and Bass.