Exactly one decade ago, electronic music changed forever when Mary Anne Hobbs presented Dubstep Warz, a two-hour long epic back-to-back set featuring the biggest names in dubstep, on her Breezeblock show on BBC Radio 1. As the game-changing transmission celebrates its 10th anniversary, revisit the historic set by listening below.
The 2006 event's epic lineup featured Mala with Coki (AKA Digital Mystikz), Skream, Kode9 with the Spaceape, Vex'd, Hatcha, Loefah with Sgt. Pokes and Distance. In addition to their own now-classic tracks, these godfathers of dubstep also dropped cuts by Burial and Benga among others.
That lineup was considerably influential. However, Dubstep Warz is worth a listen not necessarily because of the lineup but because the two hour event managed to distill a genre-defining moment in musical history when the dubstep sound and its scene had just about reached critical mass.
About an hour and twenty minutes into the mix just when Loefah takes his turn on the decks, he describes the scene: "no one's watching each other really, they're just in their own space having a good time." He explains that although people aren't running up hug one another, the dancefloor at a dubstep party is "actually quite sociable."
Loefah further explains that one doesn't attend a "dubstep rave" to "check out girls" and that it's not really a drug scene, so the dance floor isn't clogged with drug deals. He adds "we don't really have MCs over it so there's not that ego-clashing there. It's just purely sound."
That sound, as Rolling Stone points out, is that syrup-paced, bass-heavy sound which requires proper subwoofers; that sound that still bore indications of the genre's intersections with grime and when it was clear that "dub" had somehow influenced "dubstep." There was something more experimental to the sound then that many argue was lost in many later incarnations of the genre when greater emphasis became placed on the drop rather than on the often tribal-influenced syncopated wobbles tuned to sub-bass frequencies.
The atmosphere Loefah described evolved rather quickly soon thereafter, as did the sound. In fact, by the time the follow-up Generation Bass special aired in 2008, those changes were already in motion. The next phase of dubstep is perhaps represented by Rusko and Caspa, followed soon thereafter with the advent of brostep.
Upon the notorious event's 5th anniversary, Hobbs commemorated the moment by uploading the whole set to MixCloud. Although that upload of the mix isn't available to stream globally due to licensing restrictions, Hobbs' reflections are immortalized in the mix's description: "The show marked the global tipping point for the dubstep sound. Mala, Skream, Kode9 and The Spaceape, Vex'd, Hatcha and Crazy D, Loefah and Sgt. Pokes and Distance changed the world of global dance music forever."
The then BBC Radio 1 host added that "Dubstep Warz still sounds as vital, as primal and thrilling as the night we threw it down." That sentiment rings all the more true now, looking back after a full decade has passed.
She continues: "If, as a broadcaster, you can deliver one show with the cultural & historical impact of this one in a lifetime.. it's a miracle." Indeed, Hobbs' legacy as curator must not be overlooked.
As Your EDM points out, Mala pays special tribute to the "true radio pioneer" in a recent Facebook post. The producer asserts in a moment of brutal honesty that "in an industry full of snakey flakey chancers and opportunists, very rarely will you meet someone with such pure & true intentions & qualities" as found in the radio host, journalist, tastemaker and true supporter of dubstep both as a musical genre and as a movement.