Remembering Adam “MCA” Yauch’s Dubstep Influence: Beastie Boys Let the Beat–mmmm–Drop

Beastie Boys + Billy Idol = Nice mashup

Dubstep writer Sarah Bennett contributed to this post.

It’s another week in the dubstep universe and another death of an iconic musician. News of the death of Beastie Boys member MCA (a.k.a. Adam Yauch) has us dusting off the New York trio’s groundbreaking hip hop albums and breaking out the best of the Beasties — and there’s a lot of it. Losing someone as influential as MCA forces us to hit “rewind” on our musical lives (though we do more scrolling through songs these days than the physical tape-player maneuver we would have done in the Beasties’ era) and look back on what got us here.

Beastie Boys are a good example of a group that dove head-first into experimenting with sounds and breaking down genres, both foundational concepts of L.A. dubstep. They started out as a hardcore punk band–in the vein of Black Flag–morphing into rappers after meeting some success in NYC with a hip-hop release. The guitar-bass-drums trio were now using their ear to make funk-hop hybrids — tasty beds of beats to rap over. MCA traded in his electric bass for lower-pitched, ashy-delivered lyrics, setting himself apart as a distinct voice in the group’s fast-paced flow.

The band’s second studio album, 1988′ Paul’s Boutique, is one that has a particularly unique relationship to dubstep in that the majority of its music is comprised of samples, layered on top of one another using manual techniques that were newly being explored. Dubstep lovers have to give a nod to their work which was made of organic found melodies and beats before beat-production software even existed–and that’s in addition to pushing lyrical raunch on its slack-jawed audience with a playful but hard attitude and being relentlessly honest about the fact that they came to party.

There are so many samples used in Paul’s Boutique, in fact, that there is an entire website dedicated to exploring its individual pieces, references and lyrical inspirations, an interest in context and history that is lost on much of new electronic music. Dubstep fans prowling Soundcloud or Tumblr for new mixtapes today can only guess as to the origins of the sounds the DJ used to make his favorite track–and that’s assuming if the DJ even knows where he got the beats himself.

The death of MCA reminds us how hard it is to trace back music’s DNA strands in today’s reblogged, creative-commons world, but the late icon’s work with found sounds and the Beastie Boys shows the importance of knowing your roots, a rallying cry that we strive to learn from every day.




DubstepIFICATION: With Wobbly Remixes, Dubstep Makes Its Way Into Mainstream Pop Music

Britney Spears, "Hold It Against Me" via

Today’s dubstep as it pertains to the pop world has seen a dramatic shift. The most notable is from the Princess of Pop herself, Britney Spears. Her hit single “Hold It Against Me,” has integrated dubstep into the bridge of the song. The simple yet effective dubstep break happens (around 2:19 in the video below) when Spears sings “Gimme something good/ Don’t want to wait, I want it now/ Drop it like a hood, and show me how you work it out.”

We weren’t the only people to notice this change. Back at the beginning of 2011, Los Angeles-based Skrillex, dubbed as the “Prince of Dubstep,” said in an MTV interview that he believed “the more the stuff that is underground becomes mainstream, the more the underground is gonna change. I think it’s gonna inspire people to obviously do something different.”

“I thought the track [“Against Me”] was great overall. I’ll be honest, man: I love Max Martin. I think he’s an absolute genius. And Dr. Luke did it, right? I think they are a f—ing dream team. I love the track! [However] I thought the dubstep part was unnecessary. Not to say it was done wrong. I feel like it was very self-aware and consciously put in there to be ‘the dubstep part.’ I can see a lot of people getting pissed about it — the purist dubstep and drum and bass fans — but at the end of the day, it’s cool that people are trying new things. Sooner or later, anything that happens in the underground — be it watered down or not — it always makes itself into the mainstream. It’s cool to hear.”

Read more from Skrillex’s Interview with MTV here.

Rusko, a UK dubstep artist, also helped produce the track, along with Max Martin and Dr. Luke, and takes responsibility for the brostep sound which this bridge most resembles.

The dubstep world is also infiltrating the pop world by featuring remixes of popular songs. Adele, Kanye West, Foster the People and Ellie Goulding, just to name a few, have seen their songs receive this treatment. So what does this mean for dubstep? I believe this growing trend is helping foster the movement and is bringing dubstep to the forefront of mainstream culture. Plus the songs, with their up beat tempos and heart pounding beats are fun to listen and dance to. Check out these dubstepIFIED songs below.







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