Dubstep Essentials

Dubstep Essentials

The first great electronic mutation of the 21st century, dubstep has its roots in Jamaican sound-system culture of the ‘80s and drum ’n’ bass of the ’90s; it began taking shape in the first years of the new millennium, as UK garage slowed and darkened, and bubbly dance-floor vibes gave way to bass-fueled dread. Early, London-based progenitors like Skream, Digital Mystikz, and Burial concocted the style from lurching, half-speed beats laden with ghostly reverb—a style as meditative as it was weighty—but the nature of dubstep transformed as it moved Stateside. Artists like Skrillex and Canada's Excision pushed the limits of the genre to the extreme, leaning into maximalist proportions and surging, serrated bass riffs that introduced a new element of gleeful menace to festival main stages. In many ways, dubstep was the spear tip that helped rave culture puncture the American mainstream, paving the way for further mutations like trap and future bass.

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