I find dubstep threatening. With every bewildering barrage of bass that leaves me fumbling for the fast forward button (or, at least, the volume), I’m left holding on to increasingly frayed strands of an argument that says that everyone under the age of 25 has it wrong and I have it right.
That’s why likable songs like these provide a welcome lifeline. Zed’s Dead, but my musical currency isn’t dated. Yet.
To date, my relationship with dubstep has been one of drearily dutiful obligation. Since the genre has held a hammer lock on hype for a good long time, I’ve felt like I had the responsibility to keep an ear to what was happening amidst all the bleeps and thumps.
So, every month or so, I let out a big sigh and download a new dubstep track with the faint hope that this might be the one that doesn’t make me feel like I’m trapped in the soundtrack of a particularly dull video game. And, almost without exception, I’m left at a self-righteous loss as to what all the fuss is about. Such self-righteousness is key to preventing one from feeling as though they might just be getting old and out of touch. Or so I’m told.
But on my most recent foray, I found something interesting. A group (band?) by the name of Zed’s Dead has taken an old classic and given it the dubstep treatment. The result is something that draws me in, and perhaps even provides a gateway to my understanding of how one might listen to dubstep– or, at least, dance to it.
Art is always at its most interesting at moments of collision: when two previously unacquainted elements of our culture combine to create something entirely new.
Often, artistic creativity is romanticized as the lightning strike through which a never-before-seen idea strikes from out of nowhere. However sexy this may seem, the reality is almost always quite different. As Steven Johnson details in his book Where Good Ideas Come From, “good ideas are not conjured out of thin air; they are built out of a collection of existing parts.”
Take Gutenberg as example. Yes, the printing press guy. Gutenberg’s breakthrough came through his ability to combine. “Each of the key elements that made the printing press– the movable type, the ink, the paper, and the press itself– had been developed separately well before Gutenberg printed his first bible.”
“An important part of Gutenberg’s genius, then, lay not in conceiving an entirely new technology from scratch, but instead from borrowing a mature technology from an entirely different field, and putting it to work to solve an unrelated problem. His radical breakthrough relied, instead, on on the ubiquity of the screw press in Rhineland winemaking culture, and in his ability to reach out beyond his specific field of expertise and concoct new uses for an older technology. He took a machine designed to get people drunk and turned it into an engine for mass communication.”
Much of musical history can be traced through similar moments of artistic alchemy (see also: Run DMC and Aerosmith, mash-up culture best captured by Girl Talk, Reggaeton, Moombahton, Dubstep… you get the idea).
Though both elements existed before, watching them come together is exhilarating.
Anyone out there want to offer additional examples?
Introducing Munchi: a Rotterdam DJ who is being hailed by some as the next Diplo.
In a world where it’s sometimes debatable when someone has officially made it, when folk start referring to you as “the next _____”, things get real official really fast. Even if you’re 17 years old.
Much like an aspiring painter working his way through the old masters, Munchi has spent the last few years (presumably in between driver’s ed and school mixers) crafting his take on recently-popular musical genres. He’s worked his way through baile funk, b-more, dubstep, and most recently moombahton.
First up: Munchi takes on b-more, and in so doing gets Mya back out on the dance floor.
To take it down a notch, here’s one of his baile funk tracks. Given Diplo’s prominence in popularizing baile funk a while back, you can hear the musical equivalent of a basketball player practicing Jordan’s fall-away jumper in the driveway.