The Mainstreaming of Dubstep and the Rise of Trap Music (Wait, What Is Trap Music?)

Skrillex201xSonLam.jpg
Photo by Son Lam.
Skrillex, when dubstep was cool, circa 2011.

Mainstream music has a history of taking musical genres, smoothing out the rough edges and turning them into something easily digestible to the masses. Punk rock went from being the music of rebellion to the music of crying about failed relationships, and rappers went from rapping about what was happening in the streets to rapping make-believe stories of violence and drug running.

For the last two years, much has been written about the rise of EDM, and dubstep in particular. While dubstep was never threatening or edgy in the way that punk and hip-hop were, there was a certain hardcore bent to it that was exciting. It was aggressively modern, the perfect music for our ADHD culture.

I'm speaking about it in past tense because we have to face the fact that mainstream music has had its way with dubstep, and the results aren't pretty.

Dubstep isn't dead, it's just completely toothless.


I find the above video to be absolutely fascinating. For the first 15 seconds, it's every boring advertisement that any political organization has ever put out, completely safe, familiar and forgettable.

And then then there's the drop.

Consider for a moment what a dubstep track, however generic, appearing in an official White House video means. It means that someone working for, and thus close to, those in the highest positions of power in our country made this video and had it signed off on.

A group of people whose every decision is endlessly debated and commented on approved this ad with that song. Someone, somewhere, is getting government money for the use of this song in the spot.

And the amazing part of all of it is that once the drop hits, the video remains completely safe, familiar and forgettable.

While it's true that the only reason anyone is talking about it is because of the novelty of a dubstep track popping up in a White House ad, no one is saying what they did was edgy or cool. It's the kind of thing someone does when they want to appear cool but don't know how to do it without being completely transparent.

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4 comments
Alex Oriani
Alex Oriani

That's why it's all about doom metal and ear piercing noise music, it'll probably never sell out

BobbyFreshpants
BobbyFreshpants topcommenter

Dubstep peaked when Skrillex was still in an emo band.


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