Genre Clash- Drum & Bass vs. Dubstep

Chris Macom —  April 26, 2011 — 2 Comments

There is no doubt that dubstep and drum & bass have their similarities, both incorporating reggae infused electronic rhythms and wobbling swamp bass.  They also have many differences.  Although in the UK dnb was seen as rather popular in its day, in the US it was reserved more for hardcore ravers and vampire death scenes.  Now with dubstep you can find US pop stars like Brittany Spears having dubstep remixes of their songs.  So you can say that dubstep definitely has more mainstream support where dnb is more of an underground style of music.  The main difference between the two would have to be in tempo though.  Dubstep is spun at around 136-140BPMs where dnb is spun at 160- 190 BPMs.  This is quite a drastic gap in tempo but is hard to notice to an untrained ear because of the broken beatness of dubstep.  The sounds used in both styles are very similar which make them nice to mix regardless of the tempo difference.  Here’s a trick for the aspiring DJ wanting to mix both together.  Take a dnb record pressed at 45RPM and when it comes to a break in the track hit the 33RPM button on your turntable.  This will lower the tempo perfectly for you to mix in a dubstep track.  This can also be used to mix dnb from dubstep or to mix in techno, breaks, or even house. The best dnb DJs I’ve seen can switch it up mixing dubstep, breaks, and hiphop all together in a nice flowing set.  DJ Craze is one DJ off the top of my head that I know spins all of these styles together with a slew of turtablist trickery.  He is also a scratch master which is a skill I think dubstep DJs should be concentrating on more.  Check out a video of him at the bottom of the post.  One other difference would have to be the dance style.  When I would see dnb DJs back in the day, there was always breakers around using some fancy footwork.  I have yet to see a good way to dance to dubstep.  I feel it’s more reggae style, where dancing is reduced to a head bob and pass of the dutchie.

So I put the two to battle, mostly in my own head, but nonetheless I have used important data that I collected in a location that will be revealed at a later date.  My categories of judgment include coolness(meaning people who like Kesha don’t also like it), dance-ability, battle-motivating(meaning that if you were in a apocolyptic war, which one would be more epic), technology, and scares people.

Coolness: Dubstep 4/10  DnB 6/10

People that like Kesha and Brittany Spears are now also liking dubstep.  Although not everyone into pop likes dubstep, it seems that the genre is a cool thing for college kids and high schoolers who want to be extra cool are listening to.  From a Detroit perspective, this is not cool.  Drum & bass tends to attract a strange mix of a ghetto crowd with vampires and computer nerds.  Not the coolest but slightly cooler.

Dance-ability: Dubstep 2/10  DnB 5/10

Dubstep is horrible to dance to.  Drum & bass can be danced to but is difficult because of the speed, making most people not wanting to attempt dancing to it.

Battle-motivating: Dubstep 7/10  DnB 10/10

Although dubstep is good for preparing for battle like equipping your weapons and buffing(sorry for the MMORPG reference), dnb is my music of choice for actual battle.  It is very hype and epic and will make me able to destroy zombies and hell spawns more efficiently.  If I feed my soldiers meth during the dubstep buffing period than the dnb during battle will have an even greater effect.

Technology: Dubstep 8/10  DnB 6/10

Although it is apparent that dubstep isn’t my favorite, yet I can appreciate certain instances of it, I do think that it is pushing sound and technology to different heights.  Dubstep tracks are very robot sounding and the quality of sound is tight.  They tend to be robust and filled with nuances and bass that will melt your face and destroy the sound system.  Speaker companies will be forced to step the game up to appease to the bass of dubstep.  It is roaring and electric.

Scares people: Dubstep 8/10 Dnb 9/10

Although dubstep can be quite scary.  The fact that club chicks and frat guys like it, make it less scary.  Drum & bass is still making people feel uncomfortable all over the spectrum from old to young.

So the winner is…….Drum & bass.  This is extremely biased and from my perspective although I feel it offers some profound truths.  These two genres are most definitely cousins and can be used together by the clever.  Only time will tell if dubstep will still be around.  I see it moving into even more genres and although dubstep might not be popular for ever, it will definitely remain influential in the scene whether people like me like it or not.

Chris Macom


Chris Macom is a DJ, producer, and writer in the Detroit Metro area. Growing up in the 90's, Chris grew fond of electronic music and started collecting vinyl and DJing. Now, as a founder of both Detroit Techno House and Lost Science, Chris hopes to share with the world his experiences through music and writing.
April 2011
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2 responses to Genre Clash- Drum & Bass vs. Dubstep

  1. It’s pretty easy to hate on any genre of music that was once underground and has now exploded into pop culture. It gives most hardcore music lovers an instant aversion to the sound (ex: trance). I can understand that there is definitely an over-saturation of dubstep…but I think for the most part it’s being unfairly looked down upon by a lot of people. The reason its appealing to people outside of underground electronic music circles is because of it’s versatility and expansive sound. It’s hard for most people to groove along to the same house or drum and bass patterns over and over again if you’re not actually in the presence of a DJ or in a dance environment. DnB, House, etc. are all great when you’re out on a Saturday night trying to dance…but it’s not what most people are gonna drive around listening to. There is no doubt that House and Techno are way better for the dance floor…but for the other six days of the week dubstep can work pretty well. There are changes in tempo and mood, as well as varying musical styles. It can be hard and machine-like or melodic and dreamy. If you listen to enough stuff you will hear influences from reggae, rap, rock, electro, techno, and basically everything in between. It’s not for everyone, and even I am sick of seeing a dubstep remix for every goddamn song on the planet…but let’s face it…most people are just hating because they didn’t like the look of the crowd at the last dubstep show they went to….a year ago. Holla.

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