The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

The Year of Dubstep?

By Veronica Murtagh in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 10, 2009 8:20PM

Photo by Derek Djons, via Benga's myspace page
Electronic music is a medium ripe for resurrecting the sounds of the past, and every year one or two sub-genres reappear with a new twist. This year is widely becoming known as the year dubstep finally stepped out of its own dark shadow and into a position of public popularity.

Many people are just now hearing the name of the shrouded genre, but dubstep has been around for a decade and always maintained a solid roster of artists and fans. Dubstep forged its roots from London's UK garage and grime scenes in the early 2000's. Slow, droning basslines and dark, pounding beats distinguish a genre that has, until now, remained a niche, tucked away in the folds of its own mystery.

We've found it difficult to pinpoint a single event or artist that spiked the resurgence of dubstep in 2009. Producers like Diplo and NYC's Trouble & Bass crew have drawn on dubstep's influence for years and it appears that the music industry and public are finally ready to take note. A visit to any electronic music blog will reveal that dubstep is poised for an aural takeover and showing up in as disparate of places as remixes for Kitsuné chanteuse La Roux and production credits on Public Enemy and Snoop Dogg albums.

We are sure the current popularity of dubstep will produce many a new talent, but the talents that stand out to us are those who have been at it since the very beginning. Croydon, South London producer Benga is unarguably one of the most important figures in the timeline of dubstep. Kicking off his career in 2002, Benga played off the beginnings of the South London dubstep sound and fused it with grime to create his own unique take on the developing genre that would come to influence producers through today. In his seven-year production history he has collaborated with all the biggest players and put out a staggering 19 releases and countless remixes.

Tomorrow night Chicago sets the stage for a rare appearance from the legend at Smart Bar. It will be interesting to see if our city has embraced the niche sound, or if internet buzz from music bloggers and early adopters has created a false sense of popularity for the genre amongst the general public.

Benga with XI and Phaded vs. Chris Widman tomorrow, June 11, at Smart Bar, 3730 N Clark, 10 p.m., $10 before midnight, $15 after, 21+.