From Dubstep to Disco: Skream
As a preface to my post, I will start with this: the human race will complain. They will complain until there are in their graves and it’s likely that they will never be happy, and this is so incredibly true when it comes to music.
That said, I wanted to focus on Skream for this week’s post. As I’ve explained, I dig dubstep. The harder, gnarlier, grimier, the better. I started listening to London-based Skream a few years ago and fell in love with tracks like Filth and Endothermic Reaction, with their hard-hitting machine gun-esque basslines, and Where You Should Be with its more chill-step vibes. The dark, deep shit that he and Benga created, even their team-up with Croydon neighborhood pal Artwork to create the triple threat of Magnetic Man. I love it all. So do my fellow bassheads.
That said, it was a huge surprise to everyone when in early 2013, Skream decided that he was changing paths. In an interview with Red Bull Music Academy last March, he says that “by the time I got to Skreamizm last September…I was playing about an hour and 40 minutes of house, techno and disco. And I enjoyed it so much…that set was a chance for me to fully show what I’m into.” Skream’s sets and new singles since then have been lighter, and super funky, with flashes of old-school disco tracks, house and UK garage that are reminiscent of an age where many of you probably weren’t even listening to electronic music.
Long story short, many of Skream’s diehard basshead fans were mad. They’re still mad. It’s insane.
Head over to Skream’s Facebook page and look through comments on his posts: some people are borderline HATEFUL. “What the fuck scream” “Are you ever going back to Dubstep?” “So you’re more focused on disco….” “Pity, isn’t it.” Skream is even now using a fantastic new feature for Facebook pages called “threaded comments” so his reaction to fan comments is highlighted. Good for him, because I’d get annoyed of hearing everyone’s criticism day after day. He’s quick to let fans know that no, the upcoming show will not have dubstep. In one comment response he asks, “What do you want me to do, make music to please everyone else?”
This is where music fans debate. I can see why people are frustrated; Skream played a huge part in the beginning of dubstep when it started in the UK and he’s created this original sound that he’s used for years. My personal take is that yes, Skream is an entertainer, but he’s also an artist. Very few artists choose a genre just because they know will please people; they play what they like. They play what feels good. Also, what makes you a critic? Just because you know fifteen different genres of EDM and five sub-genres of dubstep doesn’t make you an expert. I’m definitely not one. Felix Da Housecat said it best in a recent interview with Beatport: “The lazy journalists don’t even go into the history of the music. They just put a label on it and move on. When it dies, they shit on you and they’re on to something else.”
The same goes for fans. What gives you the right to shit on Skream? You don’t like it, go listen to another dubstep artist. Artists should make music that they’re passionate about, because who wants to go to a show and listen to someone who isn’t putting their heart and soul into the music?
I will miss Skream’s deep dirty dub, admittedly, but he’ll still incorporate some of it into shows and tracks like his mixtape with BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix host and DJ Pete Tong. I love the disco house mixes he’s been putting out. In fact, it’s been the perfect soundtrack for writing this post and it’s definitely got me tapping my feet and bobbing my head. Check it out you bass-religious folk, you might surprise yourself.
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