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What the Dub? Where's the Drop Bro (2008-2012)

After the successes of Caspa & Rusko’s Fabriclive mix and Benga and Coki’s Night the scene exploded into the mainstream consciousness. The strong midrange presence in many of Caspa and Rusko’s productions featured in the mix began to be emulated across the globe. If you listen to tracks like Cockney Violin or Jahova without a sub (Juan cannot condone this), it’s easy to completely miss the <30 hz elements of the tunes and associate the midrange “wobbles” as the defining characteristics of the track. It was ultimately this new focus on midrange bass that characterised the growing ‘mainstream’ dubstep. It’s very easy to rail against this development and argue that it was detrimental to the scene. It should, however, be recognised that if you were in your young teens at this point, or lived in a city with no established dubstep scene, then this new mid-rangey alienated version of dubstep was probably your first introduction to the scene. Although you’ll struggle to get them to admit to it, there are members of the wider Juan Forte family who regularly used to listen to tunes such as Mt. Eden Dubstep’s Sierra Leone and the Zeds Dead remix of Blue Foundation’s Eyes on Fire through a pair of tinny earphones or phone speakers on the regular. For some these tunes served as a starting point to go back from and learn about ‘real’ dubstep and encourage them to seek out a fat sound system blasting out the original sounds. For others, however, these tunes were the ultimate definition of dubstep and led to the development of what would later be coined ‘brostep’. This period made ‘dubstep’ a dirty word for some. If you type the term into google and look for an article from the period, you will inevitably come across the words “wobble” and “robot noises” quite a lot and the terms ‘below 30 hz’ and ‘140 bpm’ a lot less. One of the only sonic connections between these two sounds were the presence of a drop. However, whereas a tune such as Loefah’s Goat Stare rearranges your internal organs with a thundering sub bass drop the newer midrangey ‘brostep’ was more likely to give you an aneurysm with these aforementioned “crazy robot noises”. It was not all lost though. The growing popularity of ‘brostep’ did undeniably effect some of the originators in a detrimental way, but it was this alienation of the OGs that gave us new labels such as Loefah’s Swamp81 imprint, which began to explore the original sonics of the sound through new bpms and music styles. Established labels such as Mala’s Deep Medi (started 2006), Distance’s Chestplate (started 2007), Pinch’s Tectonic (started 2005) and DMZ continued to push the original sound and provide a vital counterweight to what was happening in the mainstream. Other artists such as Skream were able to balance mainstream success and sticking to the roots, his remix of La Roux’s In the Kill dropped in the same year as his heavyweight Trapped in a Dark Bubble on Tectonic. Similarly Tempa dropped Katy B’s On a Mission which had huge crossover success the same year as it dropped J:Kenzo’s spaced out minimal banger The Roteks. The period also marked the steady decline of DubstepForum but saw the rise of newer online sources for that raw 30hz sound with the establishment of Hedmuk in 2009 and FatkidonFire in 2010. Producers that are now stalwarts of the sound also started popping up in this period. Commodo’s crazily percussive Querky dropped on Untitled Records in 2010, followed by heavyweight releases on Deep Medi, Blackbox records and Origin Audio. Kahn had his first release in 2011 and dropped the now classic Way Mi Defend on Blackbox in 2011. Former DNB boys Kryptic Minds, hailed by Loefah as the saviour of the original sound, starting releasing at 140 bpm on Swamp, Tectonic and Osiris, helping to spearhead a new minimal sound with the help of Youngsta and his Minimal Mondays show on rinse. All in all 2008 to 2012 marked a large divergence in Dubstep and dirtied the word a little bit. For some it was defined by glowsticks and midrangey drops that you and your bros could mosh to. The original sound, however, began exploring new avenues while sticking to its roots.

Juan Love x

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