A trend in new music: Dubstep

Some music you can get away with listening to on crappy computer speakers. With dubstep, you’ll just feel ripped off.

Dubstep (sometimes called “dark garage”) is a relatively new genre of electronic music that – although it has been around for over a decade in the U.K. – has recently gained popularity in Canada.

Its mishmash of various sounds is what makes it so appealing. A conglomeration of electronic, 2-step, garage, grime, reggae and hip-hop, it is marked by a signature heavy bass. Evolving from drum and bass (dnb) and garage, dubstep “is a real smorgasbord of music,” explains Jake Langmuir, a.k.a DJ Dubconscious.

Despite his humble attempt to downplay this title, Langmuir is arguably a pioneer in the Canadian dubstep scene – he’s been spinning this type of music for five years now, even though it just started to catch on in Toronto this past fall.

A Toronto native and UBC graduate, he has floated between the two coasts spinning dubstep at popular venues. For the past three years, Langmuir has maintained a weekly residency at Thymeless on College Street in Toronto alongside the infamous Dubslingers Crew.

Not a static genre by any means, a single dubstep set can incorporate sounds of heavy metal, hip-hop, reggae and electro-dance. Langmuir explains that unlike its close relative dnb, there are no concrete subgenres in dubstep – everyone adds their own flavor.

The one constant is the severe bass that permeates throughout each track. Similar to the feeling you get when you’ve realized you’ve fallen in love with the same person who will ultimately end up destroying you, the bass hits you hard, leaving you stunned and helpless.

It’s slow, dark and heavy, yet strangely calming. You just stand there and go “whoa.”
Nearly 1,000 people experienced this “whoa” effect during the two shows Rusko and Benga played this past October at Mod Club in Toronto.

U.K.-born Benga and Rusko are currently two of the biggest names circulating around the dubstep scene. Even if you’re not into the scene, you could tell that these DJs clearly love what they do – and are really good at it.

Toronto dnb and dubstep DJ/producer Ruben Reyes, a.k.a. DJ Hydee, emceed for Rusko that night, but admits he wasn’t immediately turned on to the music.

“When I first heard it a few years ago, I thought it was kinda weird,” confessed Reyes, originally a dnb emcee.

He finally came around after a friend passed on the track “Where’s my Money?”, a dnb tracked remixed by U.K. dubstep prodigy Caspa.

“It blew my mind. Every DJ was playing it,” Reyes said. Now an active force in the Toronto dubstep scene, Reyes admits that being the emcee for Rusko this past month at Mod Club “was a dream come true.”

It was not only a dream come true for Reyes because Rusko is one of the most successful dubstep producers around, but also because emceeing a dubstep jam is somewhat rare.

In contrast to drum and bass parties where emcees tend to dominate the show and go crazy on the mic, (and if not carefully executed can resemble an annoying little sister desperate for attention) a dubstep set possesses more of a minimalist feel.

So when Reyes asked Rusko if he could emcee for him that night, Rusko replied, “Sure, just don’t make me cut you off.” Reyes happily complied, suppressed his inner Rastafarian jungle emcee voice and kept the focus on the music.

He laughs, saying, “There was no way I was going to be embarrassed by Rusko and let him cut me off!”

This was not was Rusko’s first visit to Toronto. He played a set here less than a year ago to a crowd of a few hundred people. Even taking into consideration the previous show being on a Monday night, as opposed to a Friday like the recent show in October, it’s obvious dubstep has gained momentum over the past few months.

If you’re still reading this, perhaps you’re interested in feeling out some dubstep tunes. The easiest way to get introduced to the music is to go to YouTube and check out some of the big names: Rusko, Benga, Caspa, Skream and Joker. A quick search of these names will lead you to others, and from there you can find your sound. At the risk of sounding like a commercialized, mainstream, dubstep-bandwagonner, there’s even a Britney Spears “Radar” dubstep remix.

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