A Brief History of Dubstep
A strange thing, this Dubstep. It didn’t just blast out of your speakers one day in full-form. The evolution of this, possibly the newest full-fledged music genre in the world, started with Drum and Bass in the mid-90’s. This fusion of intricate but repetitive drum rhythms and heavy sub-bass sounds is what started it all. Believe it or not, Dubstep is actually on average a much slower sound than Drum and Bass was, which generally was written between 160-180 beats per minute.
Dubstep makers typically keep their BPM’s around 140 today, which leads to very predictable song structures such as the rising intro that leads to what people are calling “the drop.” When this bass drops, the kick drum enters the scene in syncopated rhythms along with the heavy bass wobbles and high frequency glitches and blips that are currently popular. But these elements did not simply arise out of thin air.
The U.K. Garage scene in the late 90’s pushed the tempo faster, but it’s influence on Dubstep is responsible for the even heavier bass lines we here in the current scene. It’s contributions are equal to that of Two-Step in the same time period, which cut the drums to half time but left the melodic elements at upwards of 200 BPM’s. Grime helped push popular Dubstep into the direction of hip-hop, which is why you hear rappers and pop stars in the U.S. seeking Dubstep instrumentalists to produce their albums.
By early 2000, Dubstep fully evolved into what it is today, and has even grown into at least 20 various sub-genres that each are subtly different from the rest. The term “Dubstep” itself is recorded to have been first used in the year 2002 by XLR8R on the cover of their magazine. Since then, in 2012 an artists by the name of Skrillex rose to popularity, receiving five Grammy nominations and three wins.
This goes against the early prediction of Bassnectar, a popular artist, who said that “Farting basslines will never be mainstream.” How wrong he was, for his own good. He can’t be faulted, because the technology wasn’t readily available in the mid-90’s for most people to create such abstract soundscapes. However, with the proliferation of Dubstep-making tools and tutorials such as digital audio workstations like Ableton Live and Logic Pro and online music hosting websites such as Soundcloud, Dubstep hobbyists have appeared in every corner of the globe.
Today, the largest pop stars of the United States such as Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift have tapped the United Kingdom Dubstep talent pool to produce their singles and entire albums. More Grammy nominations will occur and the genre will continue to mature in various directions, offering the classic dubstep sound with unique twists to anyone’s peculiar tastes. For instance, a sub-genre has appeared called Deathstep which carries Death Metal influences. Reggae has its own version called Ganjastep, along with many others. Time will continue to add to the history of dubstep.