The face of brostep as we know it – Skrillex – recently released a slew of new material with a lead-in track titled “All Is Fair in Love and Brostep.” The timing’s curious: 3 a.m., in the middle of SXSW. Perhaps this is a self-referential disclaimer to music journos. Or maybe a tongue-in-cheek nod to the pejorative genre term. Either way, it’s got us thinking about womps again, and what the future holds for that groove. Forget the hair-splitting arguments about “what is true dubstep;” this is one theory of where brostep came from, and where its mostly frontal lobe-numbing rocket womp fists are going:
Brostep, if you’re unfamiliar, is the latest new and edgy sound to infiltrate the mainstream in America while giving off an innovative, un-pop impression. It’s actually a fairly big deal, as its mid-range metal-scraping noises were the first thing to finally trump boilerplate radio rock’s distorted heavy guitar. Until a few years ago, that was the reigning king since it buried the then raunchy and cutting edge, saxophone-led jazzy big bands of the 1930s, i.e. the original dangerous, baby-making music. Now that brostep’s novelty has waned off and made its way into an obnoxious amount of commercials, where does it have to go?
Back to Skrillex – he’s important, as he largely leads the pack in the lyrical philosophy of brostep. Prior to his arrival, there really wasn’t any to speak of. As an MDMA/rave genre, it didn’t need any. Typical brostep lyrics come one sampled line at a time, and tend to peak at having weed in your pocket. Other topics include bass, getting fucked up, and crowd-hyping. In that respect, it’s somewhat like today’s version of Jock Jams.
However, since the entire world of brostep revolves around one electronically produced sound, not only has the genre run through the commercial Top-40 mill, but it’s been almost rendered obsolete by artists who have figured out intense electronic aggression with more variety and a lyrical backbone. Prime example - Death Grips‘ violently cathartic rap, “Deep Web:” [LISTEN]
It’s already reached a singularity in repetitive aggression, largely due to a young producer copycat syndrome. So it’s adding a “post” to the step – just as post-rock did to a recycling guitar scene. James Blake, Mount Kimbie, etc. added atmosphere and sparseness to the technique, with Blake also making it a thinking listener’s game, drawing throngs of smitten girls and understandably jealous dudes with minimalist, well-spoken introversion, as heard on “The Wilhelm Scream:” [LISTEN]
Outside of that, just as Skrillex reformatted brostep for the radio – a fact for which he does get enough credit - Lorde’s somewhat doing that for post-dubstep by streamlining Blake’s and Kimbie’s style. And, let’s be honest, dumbing it down a bit as well.
As for the actual brosteppers, the bigger names have career security through the festival circuit whether they adapt or not – such as Bassnectar, whose devoted fanbase thrives on his use of awesome, old-timey samples and a swung, semi-hip-hop feel. Some of the smaller names are inevitably lured into the bro-nado black hole (e.g. DatsiK’s “Apples” to “Fully Blown” decline) and probably won’t last. And Skrillex has traded some of his bro-screeches for post-atmosphere and slightly more meaningful lyrics. Albeit ones still palatable to your average, e-tarded teenager like “Fire Away:” [LISTEN]
Americans love instant gratification. Hell, we invented the chemical-based “bliss point” in what we call food. Even more than that, though, we love throwing crap away, and like a stick of Juicy Fruit chewed for 30 seconds, brostep’s worn out its welcome, except to drug fans that still find house too monotonous. ‘True dubstep,’ however, will probably endure, even if the name’s been tainted, like screamo was before it. Funny how that still comes back to Skrillex.