The Inevitable Evolution of Dubstep: An Opinionated Review

While the true history of dubstep dates back to the early 2000’s, my focus for the sake of today’s article will be the evolution of dubstep from my perspective. So let’s start around 2009. I’d also like to point out that I am no expert, this article is meant to share my viewpoint, stir a conversation, invite feedback, and not to insult or offend anyone who might disagree with me.

I remember the first time I was introduced to the confusing yet addicting sound of this robot sex music, aka dubstep, back with the king himself, Skrillex. I was sitting in the back of a friend’s car with his recently installed subwoofers, and as Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites filled my ears, and the bass vibrated through my body, I knew my music taste would be forever changed.

Never before had I understood the way that heavy metal, electronica, and instrumentals could marry in such a dirty and enthralling way. I became obsessed. My music library flooded with Skrillex, Rusko, Kill The Noise, Knife Party, Datsik, Zeds Dead, Excision, etc. What truly drew me in about this music was that in songs like First of the Year (Equinox) by Skrillex, Sub Focus’s Remix of Hold On by Rusko, Eyes on Fire by Zeds Dead, or Flux Pavilion’s remix of Cracks, you were not met immediately with hard beats, but instead the songs began with a haunting yet beautiful piano or inviting vocal intro before it takes you off the deep end, drowning in the bass. It was this dynamic style of melodic intros to heavy bass-fueled drops that I could not get enough of, this structure of song production stole my heart and I was not alone.

Soon, everywhere I went I was hearing bangers like Flux’s “I Can’t Stop”, and without a doubt, someone played Knife Party’s “Internet Friends” at every. single. party. You’d be hard pressed to find one person who didn’t immediately break into karaoke when Cinema came on. Quickly emerging as a name to be reckoned with, Excision released his first album, X-Rated in 2011 and I mean you could ask anyone in my life, to this day my favorite song is the Dirtyphonics remix of Deviance, that will never change. This was the dubstep I came to know and love and in my opinion, dubstep peaked between 2010-2013.

Fast forward to today. Dubstep has grown significantly in the quantity of artists producing in this space. With new heavy hitters emerging like Snails, Spag Heady, Sullivan King, and queen Rezz taking over the scene, I feel the sound is simply changing. More sub-genres are on the rise, and in fact, Rezz self-claims her genre is “f***in whatever.” Dubstep is evolving. More often than not, we are hearing grimier, weirder sounds than ever before. Take Liquid Stranger and Space Jesus’s Space Boss for example. Time and time again I listen and can’t quite make sense of what I’m hearing, but let me tell you I can get DOWN with it. Sometimes the coolest thing about music is that it doesn’t demand to be made sense of, and I see a lot of that in the dubstep we are hearing today. Not necessarily worse or better, but entirely different.

Today we are experiencing dubstep on a far grander scale. We are seeing Excision’s monumental success from his Paradox Tour and now witnessing what he is accomplishing with his all-dubstep festival, Lost Lands; there is clearly an audience out there demanding this modern sound. I will say however, it didn’t get so grimy overnight. I couldn’t write about dubstep without mentioning God himself, Bassnectar. His ethereal and otherworldly signature has been gracing our speakers and challenging our notion of conventional sound since ‘before dubstep was cool,’ and he has found a way to not only stay relevant, but remain the king of his throne for over a decade. For anyone who’s seen him perform, you know no one draws a crowd like Loren.

So I end with this, as much as I can get loosey goose with some Ganja White Night or some Dirt Monkey, nothing quite compares to what classic productions like Zeds Dead’s White Satin can do to me. Today’s dub just doesn’t quite provide the emotional experience like those from the songs I was first introduced to from 2010-2013. I’m just a sucker for some throwbacks.

So what do you think? How do the eccentric, bizarre womps of today compare to the original bone-shaking sound of dubstep as it was back in the early 2010’s? What brings out your truest, baddest bass-face?

If you wanna get dirty, throw on this playlist I put together with the best dubstep bangers from 2010-now:

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