Clocking in at anywhere from 160-180 BPM, Drum and Bass (or DnB) is the type of music that’ll have you so euphorically entranced in backbeats and basslines that you might lose all sense of time. But, if you’re anything like me, that tends to happen with music A LOT. Yet, there’s something otherworldly about this sub-genre that was truly ahead of its time when it first took the electronic scene by storm in the early 1990’s, and is now forging ahead, making itself known among the underground and festival goers alike.
Drum and Bass - A Brief History
There have been many genre blends and crossovers throughout the years, but one that fuses some of the best and most dominant genres of the late 80’s & throughout the 90’s is definitely drum and bass. It’s like hip hop & house music made a baby while visiting the UK & left it there to fend for itself. From what i’ve gathered, at least, since it’s been often referred to as the “bastard child of electronic music.” See, drum and bass was never really the “popular” genre spinning at the clubs (relative to Detroit’s house or techno), and it never cared to be, even to this day as it begins to flood club speakers and major music festival lineups.
Although, to say that only hip-hop, rap, techno and house influenced DNB to be where or what it is today, would be far from the truth. In fact, like many genres in the electronic music scene, drum and bass dates back to having influences from the early rave scene, jazz, dancehall, and funk – among many other sounds stemming from the breakbeat hardcore genre dominating the sound waves in the 90’s. Ever the rebel genre, however, DNB evolved from jungle and set itself apart with faster BPM’s, manipulating breakbeats to produce a sound that theorist Kodwo Eshun called “hyper rhythm, posthuman rhythm that’s impossible to play.”
DNB would eventually splinter off into various sub-genres and eventually began to decline in popularity in the early 2000’s, however, the Dons of DNB rose up in the 90’s to forever solidify DNB as a staple in the electronic music world.
Drum and Bass - OG’s
Drum N Bass wouldn't be where it is today without the mention of a few notables from the rise of the genre. Originating in the UK, some of the pioneers were artists like Goldie, known for his golden grin & creating one of the first and most influential DNB record labels to this day: Metalheadz.
But, he definitely wasn’t the only one: Grooverider was another name that helped push Goldie to create the sounds being produced by the label, as well as continued to disseminate the sounds all over the world on major radio stations like BBC Radio 1. As a matter of fact, it was Grooverider and Fabio – both DJ’s from London – who began to make waves and lay down the groundwork for DNB at London’s Heaven Club in the early 90’s.
Thursday nights were called RAGE and initially hosted primarily house music, but later on as Fabio and Grooverider began their Thursday night residency, Rage would take on a completely different vibe—one which would hold a strong and steady 5 year reign.
Drum’n’Bass - New
As the 2000’s made way for other emerging and more popular sounds, DNB began to fade into the underground from whence it came, though that never meant that it died; simply, it was no longer at the forefront of the electronic scene. It wasn’t until artists like Netsky, Sub Focus, Machinedrum, Mat Zo and many others began to refine the sounds to incorporate more modern, synchronized and even melodic elements into the jungle/DNB soundscape.
Most recently, labels likeSpace Yacht and Jauz’s Bite This have been curating some incredible DNB compilations featuring artists like REAPER, Kumarion, Sorry If It’s Loud and more. Something I was really pleasantly surprised to see was JOYRYDE’s all DNB set at EDC - it was truly so incredible to witness and the energy was unlike anything else I’d experienced.
I am excited to see Drum n Bass continue to lift up and rise in the ranks as more UK sounds begin to infiltrate the electronic dance scene not only in the US, but around the world. How do you feel about DNB? Who are your favorite artists? Let us know in the comments!