- Mon, 2010-08-16 10:21
Dubstep seems to be in the process of making a serious bid for mainstream success at the moment. It’s an astonishing fact when one considers the genre’s humble beginnings as an offshoot from the UK garage scene at the turn of the millennium.
Indeed, it was exactly as UK garage reached its commercial zenith with tracks like Artful Dodger’s collaboration with Craig David - Re-Rewind - that the scene gave birth to a new strain that would become dubstep; dark garage. Dark garage, pioneered by producers like El-B, Horsepower and Darqwan took the skipping rhythms of 2-step garage, stripped away the R&B vocals and experimented with what was left, particularly the bass lines. Referred to for a long time as the Croydon Sound (after the London suburb in which it took hold most strongly) it stood shoulder to shoulder with the nascent grime scene in its earliest years, until the two began slowly to differentiate themselves from each other.
The process of individualisation was given a huge boost by Digital Mystikz in the early years of the new decade, when their Brixton club night DMZ brought dubstep to wider attention and in so doing accelerated its evolution. It’s at this point, when the sound expanded from its handful of producers and couple of clubs in London, that its development becomes harder to trace, and it is of this point that our Urban Album of the Week, The Roots Of Dubstep, offers an invaluable snapshot.
With dubstep now where garage was in 1999/2000 it seems a perfect time to reflect on its humble origins, to gain a greater understanding of its roots, and perhaps to ponder on what fledgling genres its commercial ascendancy might provoke.