It’s been about 6 years since dubstep first womped it’s way onto the electronic music scene in the United States. UK electronic acts such as Nero, La Roux, Skream, and Chase & Status began to gather a following in the US with their contributions to the popular music here, such as Chase and Status’ collaboration with American rapper Snoop Dogg on the track “Eastern Jam.” The presence of the dubstep sound permeated the American pop music scene throughout 2010, peaking with the release of the Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites EP by producer Skrillex reaching number 3 on the US Top 100 Dance Billboard. This release is generally considered the birth of the North American Brostep movement.
When the term Brostep is used it casual conversation, it tends to be carrying a negative connotation. To many old school fans, it marks the beginning of the integration of electronic music into mainstream- the start of the “EDM movement,” if you will. Skrillex, the pioneering artist of the genre, actually came on to the scene with a unique heavy wobble sound inspired by his roots in heavy metal music. Unfortunately for him, his music spawned a wave of less talented copy cats and resulted in him being credited with the corruption of the American music scene, with even The Guardian proclaiming him to be “the most hated man in dubstep.” However, there were many talented artists under the North American Brostep umbrella- Canadian producers Datsik, Excision, and Downlink among the many artists included. The genre peaked in popularity in the United States between 2012 and 2013.
And then, along comes trap music, stealing the spotlight. To the mainstream, the once popular names in dubstep have been replaced by trap acts such as Diplo, Flosstradamus, and RL Grime. Anyone who has attended a major EDM festival in the past few years that most of the music played is either house/trance, majors genres of their own right but something of a parallel scene, or trap. Dubstep still exists, sure, but it seems to be back in the background where it used to be for the most part. But is it really?
Entering 2015, it seems that the case isn’t that dubstep is dead- it has just been monopolized by a few major acts. Many of the top acts in dubstep between 2011 and 2013 hardly even play the genre- though they still play dub, artists like Datsik, Excision, Zeds Dead, etc, have made a distinct and notable switch to trap music in their sets. However, a few acts still stand tall. American producer Bassnectar has one of the strongest followings of any producer in the electronic music scene, frequently selling out shows and massive events, and is one of the biggest attractions on the scene today. Skrillex, whose hate following seems to have dispersed, still commands some of the largest crowds and festival bookings of any artists on the scene today. But with so few artists still representing the genre, what future might it have?
Despite its small presence in the mainstream, dubstep is still alive and kicking harder than ever. Terravita’s 2015 EP “Gunpowder” stays true to their original sound and has a gritty dubstep feel to it. Bassnectar’s 2014 release of “Noise vs Beauty” featured a split of trap, downtempo, and heavy dubstep tracks. Skrillex’ 2014 release “Recess” featured primarily dubstep tracks and included some of the more innovative and creative tracks he has ever produced. It is hard to say what the future of dubstep is- many think is has died off, but there is still a core of highly talented producers out there keeping the genre alive. Who knows that the future holds?