Dubstep. Any relatively hip college student has heard about the genre, and anybody who listens to the Top 40 has most likely heard it in action. But do these casual witnesses to the second British invasion really know what dubstep is? One thing is for certain, it’s not a ‘hella cool dubstep drop, bro’ in a Britney Spears tune. Telegraph music writer Gervaise de Wilde put it best when he asserted “[dubstep] amalgamates disparate elements of UK’s urban sounds and cultures into an innovative whole.” While this soundbite was a perfectly accurate description of the genre in 2006, it has
devolved evolved as it broke out of its rigid 140 bpm structure and started to incorporate elements of house, hip hop and even reggaeton. In fact, the word dubstep has been misused so heavily in the past few years that it is currently a perfectly acceptable word to describe any kind of music that utilizes gut-wrenching bass synthesizers and incorporates some sort of break beat.
So here’s the question: Is Philadelphia-based Starkey, who is set to perform on Lincoln Field this Saturday, a quintessential dubstep producer/DJ? Probably not. While he has roots in the purest, darkest UK dubstep (see his appearance on genre proponent Mary Ann Hobbs’s show above), he’s managed to create incredible work within the larger genre of ‘bass music’ in the past few years. Bass music, if you’re wondering, is an umbrella genre within electronic dance music that has been making waves in the scene thanks to Diplo’s Mad Decent, NYC label Trouble & Bass and a fantastic crew of producers on London-based Night Slugs, as well as hundreds of up and coming producers in the US and Europe. If you’re into dancing while low-frequency sounds at unruly decibel levels penetrate your stomach lining, you’ll like Starkey. If your idea of a good time is ‘getting chay with Kenny,’ you may
consider going to Duke not be part of Starkey’s target audience. Four essential tunes to get you acquainted with Starkey’s music and more jokes about country music after the jump.
Introduction: Ease into Starkey’s distinctive, bass-heavy sound with a song that kind-of-features-vocals. While you won’t find any great lines like “An’ you’ll be sorry that you messed with the U.S. of A. / ‘Cos we’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way,” you will find Uffie – the original untalented, party-going whiny, white singer-rapper (as opposed to that other one) – providing vocals to complement Starkey’s zooming synths and break beats. Even the most EDM-averse listener should be able to handle it.
The Real Deal: Once you have an idea of what you’re getting into, take a moment to appreciate what may be Starkey’s most popular track to date. Featured in the sequel to the seminal Luvstep Mix by Dirty South Joe and Flufftronix, “Paradise” walks the line between electronica and dance music with beautifully light vocals on a string-injected dubstep beat. It’s actually pretty — if you find sub-bass beautiful, that is.
The Heavy Stuff: Tinie Tempah has made a killing recently by capitalizing on the dubstep craze with features and remixes galore. This Starkey remix of his song, “Written in the Stars,” is no exception. If this doesn’t get you dancing, not sure what will.
A Personal Favorite:
While he may not be Diddy Dirty Money or Das Racist (actually, thank god he’s not Diddy or Das Racist), Starkey has the potential to put on a show that may float high enough above the esoteric bowels of ‘real’ dubstep to attract hordes of intoxicated ‘ragers’ in American Apparel tank tops to Lincoln Field on Saturday…..or he may put on a more classic dubstep set, free of crowd-pleasing ‘bangers,’ that will undoubtedly clear the field like a cloud of sonic mustard gas (save the small contingent of Brown students who actually want to hear wobbling bass, dissonant drums and eerie synths for two hours).
We’ll just have to wait and see.