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Quora Answer : What's the difference between grime and dubstep?

Mar 12, 2020

Both are offshoots of UK / 2-step garage from around 2001 onwards.

So both start with the bouncy 2-step beat of garage, add extra bass and more interesting exotic synth sounds. But remove the typical garage female vocal.

Grime takes off from the MCing that was coming from jungle into garage. And develops it into a fast rap, suitable for the same kind of purposes that hip-hop puts rap to : telling stories of youth culture, gang warfare, dreams of wealth and power etc.

It keeps the sense of frenetic speed from jungle and garage.

The beats are a cold, skeletal and minimal tool for MCs to rap over.

This is one of the original grime beats

and here's how early grime artists rapped over it.

Here's a couple more examples :

Dubstep, on the other hand stays largely instrumental. The beats stay at around 140 bpm, but drop down to a half-speed kick and snare, which gives it a slower, lazier sound.

There are no vocals but the music is filled out with samples : often from reggae which is a significant influence on the genre. And also begins to introduce the infamous wobbly bass sound.

Here's a very early (proto) dubstep track.

You can hear how it's very obviously part of the garage sound (in terms of beat and vibe) But there's a reggae vibe to it. And you can hear that wobbly bass although still not as prominent as it would later become.

As it starts to evolve, it drops to that half-speed feel. And the wobbly, harsh synths become more prominent. It's still, like a lot of electronic dance music, based on samples, and gets its energy from colliding soulful feminine vibes with abstract electronic vibes, with aggressive, cinematic masculinity.

By 2010 ... that Caspa and Rusko type sound with very, very prominent wobbly bass was taken up in the US, and turned into the new dubstep and EDM sounds spearheaded by Skrillex and co.

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