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I don't know if you've ever listened to dubstep music, ragastep, rapstep, dubtrap, trap, trapstep, or #bass music in general, or if you've been listening since you were knee-high to a duck. One thing I can tell you is, there's little point in presenting my opinions about "goodness" or "bestness" as facts, because the truth is — or at least it should be — as Jack Black sings: "it doesn't matter if it's good. It only matters if it rocks."
What Mr. Black is saying is that "goodness" is subjective. What is not subjective, however, is the skull-rumbling power of these ten dubstep songs.
Without a doubt, these ten tracks rock. Hard. Dubstep hard. I mean, really hard. And they will, each of them, absolutely and utterly murdilate your face and disgustimify your reality. They will swordslice your sweat-glands, fumigate your cranium, dropkick your worries in the nads and fling buttercups at your step-uncle. They will leave you seeing stars, tasting comets, touching meteors, and smelling suns. I don't even want to say what they'll leave you feeling.
If you love dubstep, or if you hate it and want to torture yourself, you've come to the right place. So sit right down here on this butt-seat and get ready for ten tracks worth of lightning-guns, sword-swallowing, and world-renowned electro-rampage, starting NOW!
Datsik and Bare – 'King Kong'
No dubstep list is complete without some Datsik. In terms of pure destructive force, I'd say few tracks compare to "King Kong," his collaboration with fellow #bass artist Bare. For some reason, I find the arpeggiators exceptionally hypnotic. In case you're unaware, the sound of an arpeggiator is characterized by notes gliding up or down a scale, which is what frames the main theme of this track and gives it a sparkling quality. It sounds like the movement of great gold bars, like the beams of a brass bed, extending themselves in parallel patterns across the expanse of a great city, creating a kind of jungle gym for old Kong himself to triumphantly traverse and make short work of the once-skyscraping cityscape.
Getter – 'Stomp'
Referred to as "literally the best Getter song" by one commenter on YouTube (and as we all know, YouTube comments sections are the place for authoritative opinions from qualified experts), "Stomp" will live up to its name, and then some. Getter stands out among dubstep artists, in my opinion, for his ability to cram a LOT of force into relatively few actual notes. The overlaid synth/wub section is not a haphazard mishmash of triplets and half-notes, as are the centerpieces of so many dubstep classics (I'm talking to you, Klaypex. P.S. I love you). Instead, Getter's chainsaw-like sub-bass largely mirrors the hi-hat part in a simple eighth-note pattern, bringing to mind a squadron of robots, relentlessly razing buildings and barriers, cutting through layers like drills or saws through solid steel, without so much as a pause in their stomping dubstep onslaught.
Tim Ismag and Evilwave – 'Reggae Lights'
Now don't get me wrong, I love some good wubs, and this song is the place for wubs that could sink an island. This song, and songs like it, are occasionally referred to as ragastep because of the influence of reggae, a signifier that characterizes the previous Getter track as well. Because the album art has a green tint, I often think of the color green when I hear this track; perhaps an armored sprite is coasting along at near-light speed on the waves of some green ocean, singing as he goes, the sound of his voice echoing off the mighty whitecapped crests and trenchy troughs that jagger the verdant surface of the water like stalagmites in a cave. He is heading for that island, where a city waits; the soundwaves are a warning to rejoice.
Figure – 'The Werewolf'
"It began in 1795..." The legend of the werewolf is very old, and Figure — lover of classic movies filled with old legends like vampires, ghosts, and mummies — is kind enough to give us a definitive year in which the terror once began. One of the more sample-oriented artists on this list, Figure juxtaposes the trepidacious voice of Jack Russell with that of the announcer, sharply contrasting the precarious and uncertain position of the forces of good — "was it a dream? Or, what if it was real?!" as Jack Russell fearfully asks — with the decisive and fearless forces of evil — "And the moon is full, and bright," proclaims the announcer — which characterize the werewolf, unhindered as he is by any concern for ethics, morals, or the meaning of murder. Yes, a sharp contrast indeed, sharp like the teeth, and the wubs of... "The Werewolf."
Excision and Downlink – 'Heavy Artillery'
Where would dubstep be without Excision? There are few artists who embody the over-the-top, forceful, and destructive mood of the modern genre more than "X" himself. "Heavy Artillery," also the work of worthy collaborator Downlink, expresses this mood perfectly: infinite batteries of heavy artillery concentrate their firepower into the center of a circle, waging a war between far more than two sides, for it is not one or another side that is the enemy but static perception itself: the very IDEA that there are only two sides. The earth-rumbling beat and varying wub tone/pitch/rhythm patterns lay into it, battering it beyond recognition. That is the power of modern dubstep, as exemplified by Excision: it truly discovers, reaches, pushes against, and obliterates the limits of how music can truly alter one's perception — like a drug — and leave us worn out, thrilled, and perplexed about what hit us, yet wanting more — like a drug.
Gemini – 'Elevate'
I discovered Gemini very much by chance, on Pandora at my former workplace. Needless to say, I stopped working immediately so that I could see who the artist and song were. As irresponsible as that might be, you are benefiting from it now, so I consider myself largely redeemed. Why? Because the song, which starts with the sounds of a dour march, has a unique finale, one which demonstrates just how literally Gemini means "elevate." After a cheekily self-referential sample — one voice says, "do you read music?" and another replies, "no" — a terrifying tonal climb commences, as though a blue-faced demonic organist is gently rolling the pitch knob upward on his instrument, which just happens to be connected to our conscious awareness, and it feels very much as though the brain is expanding and elevating, leaving the dour march of time behind in the blue dust. You're welcome.
Laxx – 'Step Three'
Now I know the artist Laxx may not be dubstep, strictly speaking, but the song is just so beyond sickening, I can't resist. And you couldn't either, if you were in my shoes. I wear size 13s, so there's a pretty good chance your feet wouldn't fit, which is too bad because size 13 happens to be the minimum size you must wear if you hope to join the gang of utter badasses stomping down the street to do some gangsta shit, as depicted in the movements of this song. Never, that I know of, has there every been a song that so crispily defined badassery, such that virtually no one who hears it doesn't immediately feel like going out and fucking some shit up, car windows rolled down, sunglasses at night, to wherever the nearest-by dickheads hang out, if only to razzle them, steal their stolen bikes, and throw their bags of leaves off a bridge with a well-deserved "booyah."
Antiserum and Mayhem – 'Trippy'
Again, maybe I'm stretching the genre requirement slightly, but picture this:
Imagine your party is a chess game. This song is your queen. Nuff said.
Juggernaut ft. Getter – 'Grindhouse'
If a song could be made into a weapon, countries would create armies specifically to PREVENT this Juggernaut/Getter collab from being weaponized. It creeps up on you, almost unassumingly but maintaining your distinct illness-at-ease, until, in no uncertain terms, the shrieking assault begins. My favorite part occurs at 39 seconds in, when that transient pulse of trebley clicks — like the slowed-down sound of a rattlesnake run through a transmogrifier and several outboard processors — manages to be both lilting and punishing, a mind twist tied with a red ribbon. Through the proof of assumption, I attribute this subtle rhythmic flair to Getter's influence, and his aptitude at employing simple cues — such as a snare pulse gently appearing from behind a cloud of battering wubs — to produce the type of musical drama often accompanied by bruxism.
Foreign Beggars ft. Skrillex – 'Still Gettin It'
You, the reader, knew that I would, hoped for me to, wanted me to, and unconsciously demanded that I include some Skrillex on this list, and I have no problem with that, because Skrillex is dope. Maybe I don't like literally all of his work but I like quite a lot of it. And if you're a hater, well then, WHY ARE YOU EVEN READING A TOP TEN LIST?!?!? YOU HATE EVERYTHING!!! But I deviate.
Rapstep is the name of this dubstep subgenre, and Foreign Beggars deserve some sort of prize for their distinct sound of two completely different voices — one deep, the other a good deal less deep. The manner in which their voices interweave and complement each other — and Skrill's angular, chimey music — underscores the completely disgusting and utterly stupid level of skill they possess, the way they move seemingly effortlessly through life, "headin full speed in the lane, still gettin it," almost accusing you, or at least demanding that you wonder, "what am I doing with my life? Am I even 'getting it,' let alone still getting it?" indicating that their accomplishments, their skill, their pride, were not, in fact, obtained effortlessly, but were the rewards of great labor. As will your own be. It is this sort of art that propels so many people forward, whether on clear or vague paths, whether leading with the heart or with the head, but always forward, towards an indefinable sense of something better, something realer, something freer, something stronger. Towards "it."
Datsik – "Firepower" This song actually needs to be #1 but on a different list.
Bassnectar – "Timestretch" Too chill but much like "Firepower," the best of its kind.
Megalodon & PhaseOne – "No Chill" Almost TOO crunk but yo, listen to this shit. I'm not EVEN joking.
Trollphace – "Optimal Flavor Zone" In many ways, a perfect song.
'Playlist'? What's that?
THIS IS AN ARSENAL. Let's hope it is used for good.