TTI Comment

Dubstep: The New Black

Illustration by Al Allday 2005

Here – is it just me, or are you as sick as I am of pasty-faced middle-class white boys running round, crowning themselves the self-appointed fucking arbiters of what’s cool? I mean, letting these moon-eyed bastards dictate to us is just so fucking nineties. I lay awake at night, hoping for some kind of plague, hopefully a sexually transmitted one, to spread like wildfire throughout the burgeoning trustafarian population and wipe the whole degenerative pox of them off the face of the planet. But it never happens. Instead, acting more like some kind of virulent influenza spewing forth from the splutterings of a Chinese chicken farmer, the fuckers just keep on mutating and coming back for more.


This week it’s dubstep. Dubstep is cool. The Fashion Gods have said so. Of course, last week it was dubstep and next week it will probably be dubstep again, but I’m speaking figuratively. What I’m saying is that dubstep is fashionable now, the disease has mutated again, and it’s come back even stronger. Domestos isn’t going to stop it, and besides, throwing bleach in the face of the nearest mullet-sporting music geek is, on reflection, going to get you arrested. Sadly.

But why dubstep? An aside, dear reader, if you’ll bear with me. I want to say that I hate drum ‘n’ bass. In fact, I loathe it. After a considerable number of years listening to it, the very sound of an amen break now makes me want to tear giant holes in my own head with a huge fuckoff fucking drill. This is how much I hate drum ‘n’ bass. As a genre, it’s restrictive, pretentious, insular, elitist and, dammit, I’m going to come out and say it – not interested in music… at least not in any kind of creative sense.

How many times can you re-hash the same sample over and over again before you go out of your mind and wind up booking a six year stay in a padded cell? I saw a man in the street last week actually wearing a t-shirt with ‘amen’ and a little soundwave written on it, and I very nearly succumbed to the urge to kick him right in the knackers. I’m telling you, I lived in Bristol for the best part of three years, and ‘the spiritual home of drum and bass’ damn near sent me off my cracker. ‘There were too many twats in Bristol,’ I said the other week. ‘So I moved back to Shoreditch.’ Really.

Drum and bass is like this. It’s music for the people who say they don’t like poems, they only like sonnets. Or worse, still, it’s music for the sort of people who write haiku and find some kind of deep spiritual meaning in it – and then bore the rest of us with explanations of why this is the case for hours on end. I want, frankly, to lay these people to waste with chunky gallons of the toxic semen that issues forth from my throbbing member, screaming ‘it’s all the fucking same!’ at them over and over again. Until they drown.

As far as I can see, there are only two reasons why drum ‘n’ bass is still with us. Firstly it’s dance music that isn’t house. God knows, I loathe house. In fact, the best thing that you can say about drum ‘n’ bass is that it isn’t house. Or spiral techno for that matter, but you get my point. However, this fact alone cannot account for why the whole stinking genre has hung around us like a fart in an spacesuit for the best part of a decade. No – the reason why drum ‘n’ bass has stuck around for so long is because those moon-eyed, beautiful party people, these screaming pricks, these great arbiters of cool, have kept it there. Since hip hop was appropriated by teenage girls, wannabe hoes, (and let’s face it, the UK scene has never produced any decent hip-hop anyway), it’s the only credible ‘urban’ genre we’ve got.

You see, drum ‘n’ bass is from the ‘streets’ (as opposed to what? Bucolic countryside alliance hardcore?) and therefore its credibility is immediately plundered by middle class white kids to dance, make out, and take their fucking pills to. Don’t you people get it? Nobody from the ‘streets’ gives a monkey’s sputum-seeping cock whether it’s techstep or clownstep or whatever other sub-genres you’ve invented in your fucking bedroom, tapping away on your message boards in between tossing off to ‘Tight Buns III – the assmaster returns’. It doesn’t! fucking! matter!

Until now. Because dubstep is cool. It’s grime cleaned up for the middle-class white-boy market. And now it’s everywhere. Drum ‘n’ bass died last year. The final nail in its putrescent corpse’s coffin was hammered home when Pendulum’s ‘Hold Your Colour’ achieved mainstream crossover success. Until then, somehow, the genre was still credibly ‘underground,’ but now I’ve got mates from my school days who don’t even know what an amen break is talking about going to Pendulum gigs and necking six pills, not necessarily in that order. And the cool as fuck music nerd doesn’t like this. It just isn’t… you know… cool anymore.

That’s where dubstep comes in. The bass is far more important than the percussion, and that means it’ll never pass the ‘radio test’ – so long as people can’t play it on shitty speakers, it’ll never catch. Phil Spector understood this forty years ago when he invented the Wall of Sound technique. But dubstep isn’t even music to dance to, so it appeals to the bedroom nerd crowd even more. They can sit there in their bedrooms, smoking spliffs and drinking tinnies to their hearts’ content, listening to one cold, soulless track that sounds virtually indistinguishable from the last, safe in the knowledge that this music will always be underground, that they can always outdo each other on internet message boards on the minutiae of their bass response, and that the masses will never know what the whole thing’s about.

Dubstep is cool, God help us. I’m not denying that there’s some good dubstep out there. In fact, there’s a lot, a lot that I love. But for every decent track I’ve heard, there’s ten poorly produced bedroom facsimilies. If you’re a producer out there reading this, then please, have a care – produce something original, and don’t just copy everyone else. The last thing we need is for the dubstep scene to become another genre like drum ‘n’ bass.

Chad Fanstor
Illustration by Monsta

Originally published TTI CD 002, 2006.


  1. Anon says:

    My god that was a boring article/rant.

  2. ME says:

    you say bristol or dubstep or whatever is too pretentious and you write something like that.
    you’re not writing for vice mate and your not some urban charlie brooker. you are shit.

    keep trying hard mate, one day you might actually understanding writing in a way you’ve obviously never understood music.

    you sad wishy washy fool.
    i feel sorry for you and your obviously lack of soul.

    tell us what music you do like.

  3. admin says:

    In Chad’s defence I think

    “Here – is it just me, or are you as sick as I am of pasty-faced middle-class white boys running round, crowning themselves the self-appointed fucking arbiters of what’s cool?”

    was said with a note of irony.

    I’ll also say that we did introduce him as a “middle class prattler”.

    I expect ME will agree that sometimes telling people what you don’t like is more fun?

  4. lame says:

    Wow, what an absolutely lame article.

    I’ll do Chad the credit of assuming he’s not actually this moronically narrow-minded. It’s too obviously innaccurate, simplified and downright stupid to have any worth as a piece of music criticism/journalism.

    I assume, instead, he was going for the Maddox-esque “take things with a kernel of truth, exaggerate them wildly, and declare them as total in a faux-aggressive, expletive-peppered rant” in pursuit of comedy.

    Sorry, fail. Truly unfunny.

    “Fart in a spacesuit”, putting ‘streets’ in arch quote marks, equating techstep listeners to serial masturbators…? Just curious, were there any ideas you rejected as too cliched?

    Like the man above me said… although you’re trying so hard it’s teeth-grindingly painful, you’re really not Charlie Brooker.

  5. admin says:

    Ok, its a very literate comment, we always appreciate that.

    I think we have covered the fact the quite a lot of people don’t like this article. In all the above instances including the article, writing about something you don’t like is often an easy hit.

    Just to put the article in context, when the magazine was CD based this article appeared alongside this:

    Music without culture

  6. jeryl says:

    Have you ever considered becoming a drum & bass reviewer?* I can assure you there is far more irony in that role than you can possibly imagine; I think it would appeal to your obvous penchant for the dramatic and the overblown. Big up, and other urban sayings.

    *excellent grammar and spelling not required.

  7. retrend says:

    What a clueless idiot you are Chad, just because you are a shallow moron who only listens to music in some lame attempt to be cool, doesnt mean that everyone is. Sure, you aren’t alone, image is used very successfully to market crap music in almost every demographic there is, but thats not to say that there is a large amount of people out there who actually enjoy music for what it is. Bah, I was going to continue on tearing apart your retarded article but it would be a total waste of my time.

    Good luck in your career as an attention seeking twat of a writer, you’re going to need it.

  8. MR MAN says:

    Hes taking the piss.
    you know “tongue in cheek” and all that.
    Lighten the fuck up people.

  9. Chad Fanstor says:

    This week I have been mostly listening to…


    *lodges tongue in cheek*

  10. Contayjen says:

    Haha, great read. Subscribed.

  11. skosh says:

    this guy needs to stop listening to radio 1

  12. Matey says:

    Blah Blah DOA told me this, DOA told me that…

  13. al says:

    Skosh – When I had lunch with Chad last week, he told me he doesn’t even own a radio, let alone listen to Radio 1. Of course, I’m not sure he actually listens to _any_ music either, but there you go…

    He does hum in a rather offputting way, though. I think he’s going for the brown note.

  14. Megan says:

    I am dissapointed by my fellow readers, yes Chad may have different taste in music but he explains himself. If I hear another ‘remix’ by some jumped up ‘creative music technology’ student apparently ‘reinventing’ the same old sample with the help of a trusty drum machine and the odd synth thrown in for good measure, then I will surely take my radio aerial and use it to puncture my ear drums, for I can do without, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    As for the Charlie Brooker comparisons, possibly the phrase “with a huge fuckoff fucking drill” could be accurately compared but just because Brooker speaks this way doesn’t mean he holds the monopoly on such phrases. This method of explaining oneself through the medium of the double or perhaps triple barrel swear word is most satisfying, in fact there should be more of it.

    All I want to know is, where can I get that bucolic countryside alliance hardcore?

  15. Chemtrail says:

    Listen mate you aint got a clue; if I met you on road and you ranted on like that I would personally fuck you up! Go read a book about the origins of drum and bass and then come back and write some thing. It sounds like your just sum middle class bitch that’s been brainwashed into listening to dubstep I aint got nothing wrong with dubstep but drum and bass has and will always be around.


  16. jeff stirling says:

    You ignorant prick,its people like you that need shooting in the head, you go on about subgenres people make up in there bedrooms like they are losers and you’ve written a 10 page boring essay about an opinion noone cares about, you clueless dick head

  17. anyone says:

    what a poor pathetic person who wrote this. he probably doesn’t even enjoy sex anymore 🙁