Although dubstep is being accepted by the world quite recently, works in the genre can be dated to as far back as 1998. Of course, it wasn't 'dubstep' back then. It all started in England, mostly London, and used to be called 'Garage' and 'Jungle'. But the sound patterns, the low and dull bass, the trippy drums and the deep, heavy distortions were all in use. The early forms were again a derivative of Jamaican dub music, which generally used disco-themed music with altered bass patches. Dubstep grew from all this and eventually was accepted as a genre around 2003. With artists like Benga and Skream being featured regularly in events, on the radio and in clubs, it was only a matter of time for the locals to be exposed to dubstep.
One interesting piece of history links the big names in dubstep, particularly Skream, Benga and Hatcha. Skream worked at Big Apple Records, where he met the other two artists. They eventually played at FWD>>, which played a very important part in the exposure and promotion of dubstep to the masses.
The Best of Dubstep
A genre like dubstep can't really have a single, definite list. There are a lot of things that need to be considered before calling someone the best of the best. Of all those things, the most important aspect, in my opinion, is their global popularity, or basically, whether they are mainstream or not. I believe an underground artist has just as much to contribute to music as someone who everybody knows, which is why I've decided to include both types, depending on their total online followings and their original contributions to music.
On a side note, the following list is what I think it should be. Despite trying to be as objective as possible, the inclusion or exclusion of any artist in either list might not be agreeable to someone. But that's just the way music is. As with any field of art, music has 6 billion people listening, each with their own opinion. That said, all constructive comments are most certainly welcome!
Top Dubstep Artists
You can't say you're into dubstep if you haven't heard tracks from its founders. Oliver Jones or Skream is one of them. He's one of the biggest contributors of melody, tempo and key changes that we hear in dubstep today, yet manages to make his own works more darker, showing a fair infusion of UK garage into his music.
His music is always met with intense anticipation and it often justifies the wait. He has joined forces with Skream and Artwork to make Magnetic Man, which has been around for almost two years. Benga himself has been in the music scene ever since the birth of dubstep.
There have been many arguments over whether Burial's music can be classified into dubstep or not. I think it should be, because of the constant evolution of dubstep. His music really takes you back to the origin of dubstep, where it came from and what it used to be. Burial can still make the old 2-step and stay on par (if not better) than the other contemporary dubstep artists. The kind of mystery surrounding him makes him untouchable for his followers, giving him almost a cult following of sorts.
A pioneer in dubstep, Bassnectar has been around for a long, long time. Lorin Ashton has made giant contributions to not only the genre, but helped mold it through time. The influence of rock is evident in his older music; he was inspired by rock bands like Metallica and Megadeth. Two songs you have to listen are 'Cozza Frenzy' and 'Mesmerizing the Ultra'.
Many have been compared to Burial in the sense of style and drops, but I don't think anyone has come as close to it as Ghostek. Yet, what makes this artist so unique is that the music still manages to be his own. His music becomes fear and despair personified. The tracks don't really belong for the dance floor, they are in a league of their own. 'Lost Tapes EP' (released October 2011) and 'Leaving for the City of Saints' (released December 2011) have tracks that take you deep down and live out the crushing emotions.
A Polish producer who started composing at the age of 9, Eryk Kowalczyk, better known as Xilent by his followers, had a childhood rich in music. With both parents being professional musicians, he was meant to try his hand at it himself. His first track, 'Terminal', quickly became an anthem, while his first album, 'Choose Me' (released May, 2011) totally lived up to all the hype.
Although his first release was in this April, Datsik had already begun collaborating with Excision since 2009. He is relatively new to the scene, but that really does not belittle his productions in any way. His album 'Vitamin D' is definitely worth listening.
Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen join forces after disbanding Pendulum, their older electronic rock band, to create Knife Party. You can't get bigger than having a debut performance in Space, Ibiza. '100% No Modern Talking' was released in December, 2011 while their latest offering, 'Rage Valley' was released in May this year.
His generally positive attitude and upbeat tracks set him apart from the rest. Christopher Mercer is an outstanding artist with a degree in Music Performance to boot. He always sets the bar high with his releases and performances. Listen to 'Hammertime' and 'Woo Boost' to get what I'm talking about.
'Bass Cannon' and 'I Can't Stop' are two tracks that place Joshua Steele way above the usual dubstep. His drops hit you hard, real hard. The kind of energy that you can feel through his tracks cannot be replicated by anyone.
Other Dubstep Greats
Honestly, dubstep has grown so such in magnitude over the past few years, it's become hard to keep track of everything that's going on. That said, the artists below are in no way the one-time-listen kind. They have put their share into the dubstep vault and continue doing so.
- Skrillex (I didn't put Skrillex in the above list simply because almost everyone knows about him now. Just trying to create a list that portrays the kind of variety that dubstep has.)
- Doctor P
- Zeds Dead
- Chase and Status (not originally dubstep, but they have tried their hand at it and the results are pretty amazing)
- Babylon System
These are the big names that you need to know, to find out just how hooked you are to this kind of music. The list is, unfortunately, exhaustive. But that's only because the genre is still in its infancy. What I can say is that with the kind of nurturing it's getting, I'm sure dubstep is here to stay.