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we need more griselda on this blog (4/03/2021)

i wasn't sure who Julia Lang was before she showed up in the music video for Westside Gunn's song "Julia Lang". That's a flex for him. Gunn recently dropped that track and "TV BOY" the other day, both of which are said to be from his next mixtape, Sincerely Adolf (#HWH8​). no word on that project's release date aside from "Coming Soon".

check out the full video for "Julia Lang," featuring Julia Lang (who i'm not sure is even a fan of the song), below.

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rockthedub turns 15. (3/15/2021)

i used to make compilations to celebrate this site's anniversaries. i don't know why; the one compilation that made mad noise—Offshore Drilling with Kid Hum—dropped in May of 2009, and I don't really remember why. people don't remember that stuff; these dates don't really matter. my wife did give me some props this morning though; 15 years of having anything is a huge accomplishment. i am busy today, but felt compelled to put some words on the site on this day.

it's interesting; i vaguely remember setting up a Blogspot page at the time; it was really to share this review of Green Lantern's Alive on Arrival mixtape. i must have dug it, because i then put up a playlist featuring 20 tunes: 10 dnb, 7 hip-hop/rap, and 3 of other genres (always doing the most). then i wrote a piece influenced by some shit the Green Lantern tape had me thinking about INRE Trenton. i just reread the piece and didn't like a large chunk of it. i wasn't hating on everything, but i would've written that way differently.

rockthedub.com made me the person i am today. i learned how to blog on here—mostly about music, but i've griped about daily life, reviewed shows like The Sopranos and LOST, and ran with the big dogs when it came to upfront content. that game was dope at times, and put me in a position to be where i've been since 2012. almost nine years of grinding and finding myself doing something that excites me. and growing as a writer (i hope). and a podcaster. and a sometimes talking head. whatever i'm doing, this very site was a testing ground for it. it was where i honed my skills while putting my appreciation on display.

think of someone like ELUCID, for example.  we did a lot during our time. and he's still that guy. his group, Armand Hammer (w/ billy woods) just put out Haram, a project they did with The Alchemist. i'd go in on it but a) i haven't had nearly enough time to decipher it, but more importantly, b) there are already dope pieces written to help you start to understand what  J. Edward Keyes called "a Japanese puzzle box." it also features Curly Castro, which is dope!

if 15 years of keeping a blog have taught me anything, it's that things can change on a dime, so don't sweat the small stuff. the amount of times i got amped because i didn't get a shout out or some pinhead got an exclusive over me mean nothing because where even are...let me chill. i've got work to finish. thanks for rocking with me for however long you've been rocking.

what's your favorite rockthedub memory? artist you discovered here? is anyone even still around anymore? props to you if you are.

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that time skream hit the reload on his new dubplate in royal albert hall

i figured i was beating this one around in my head enough, i needed to commit some words to a space about it. i didn't even realize fabric had a YouTube page until I got the link for Skream's set in the150-year-old Royal Albert Hall for their London Unlocked series. The beauty is immediately in the description:

"Skream takes dubstep to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time, playing an exclusive set of brand new 140 productions with a firm nod to the genre’s formative years. Joining him is Crazy D one of the most important MCs in dupstep’s history."

as i was really getting deep into the dubstep scene, Skream was making moves to dip for a bit. around the time DoAndroidsDance? was a site, Skream was rolling into his disco/house phase, something i imagine he is still occupying while exploring how to incorporate the bass-heavy side of the 140 sound into it. some of that is in this set, IMO. early on there's some Autechre-leaning IDM-ish tribal dub rumble going on. this set gave me big Freeizm vibes, which makes me shout out Mediafire to keeping this Freeizm Album link alive like a decade later.

who knows what this means. i'd love to own some of these bits in some format, and Skream feels right at home alongside the mighty Crazy D. what i'm not certain about is what the market for this is. when outside opens up, i imagine Skream will be getting pulled for bigger chicken at non-140 shows. which is good! put food on your family. i'd just love another dirty Mediafire link. or better yet, a Bandcamp link with some of these bits. i'm no dj. i just want them. they are exquisite! so full of life and tech and bounce and BASS and vibes. it's a history lesson through Skream's influences, filtered into a sound all his own. something he couldn't have made back when he was in the thick of the dubstep scene. and we're all better for it.

just sort me the tunes some day.


UPDATE 9:05AM EST, Thur, March 18, 2021: i had to run this log back and add more emphasis on what is going on here, and what feels like is being overlooked or understreamed. this bit coming in at the 34 minute mark?! burn the dancehall down, it's such a scorcher. this tune—which i'm calling "BREAKA BREAKA" for that "BREAKA BREAKA/CALL THE UNDATAKA" line—was so ill...TO SKREAM, WHO PRODUCED IT AND WAS DEBUTING IT IN ROYAL ALBERT HALL DURING THE COVID-19 QUARANTINE, SO REALLY ONLY HIMSELF, CRAZY D, AND THE PEOPLE WORKING TO PUT THE EVENT ON COULD HEAR IT...had to pull it back. shit, i've been pulling the whole mix back ever since i discovered it the other day. it's fueled my evenings, and made me run back the Skreamizm/Freeizm era—hence why i found that Freeizm Album link from earlier.

and we haven't even begun to speak on the fact that Dubstep Warz turned 15 back in January.

i'm not sure what the audience for dubstep is doing at this point. there's so much going on right now, and while 140 has continued to have supporters, this vibe right here hasn't been at the forefront. and this is a junglist telling you this, rofl. Skream and Crazy D—who i used to listen to weekly on Hatcha's Kiss show—killed this set. BOTY 2021, so far. there are a number of London Unlocked streams on the way, and names like Kode9, Dillinja & GQ(!!!!), and Fabio & Grooverider(!!!) were mentioned.

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outa 2020, inta 2021 (1/01/2021)

i haven't forgotten about you, true believer...i just haven't had the time. from the quiet death of a podcast that i spent most of 2020 cultivating to the quiet rebirth of another podcast i spent 2020 nurturing, to all of the insanity of what 2020 was, sometimes it was hard to find the time to really WRITE about stuff that doesn't keep the lights on. hell, i even started and stopped a whole different site that i'm itching to carve out more time for. this post isn't about any of that, though.

normal end-of-year traditions usually incorporate two things: DJ Cable's best-of hip-hop megamixes and Cousin Cole's New Year's Day mix. Cable's 2020 AD is actually going to be his final year-end hip-hop mix, which is sad but understandable; dropping 124-track mixes is fucking time consuming! You can download this mix and show him mad love for keeping it going.

Cousin Cole always comes correct with the New Year's Day selections. They are more chill, much more spiritual, and should help you enter the year on a cooler vibe than you went out. And with word of DOOM passing away hitting on Dec. 31, 2020, maybe this is the energy we need to keep going.

stay safe, true believers.

Bonus Beats DJ Earl - Sounds 2 Lab 2

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the future (5/11/2020)

i actually hate posts like this, but i'm not sure what else to do. i'm not even sure who all is listening. shouts out to heads like The Cause and The Custodian of Records and Deal - The Villain—aka heads who know and still reach out because what even is going on any more. i sure don't know.

back when i first told y'all i was going to be working at Complex, i thought i'd be able to find a rhythm with this blog. i figured i would; who knew how all-consuming a gig in media could be! (almost!) eight years later, i can say that it's been easier to find the groove, but maintaining it has been something else entirely. can't say i know WHY, it just is what it is. lots of juggling going on. who knew, back in 2012, that i'd have a weekly movies/TV podcast? the people who suffered through my Sopranos, The Wire, and Lost recaps may have known, but wow.

anyways, i keep seeing some of my favorite writers starting dope newsletters, and during this time where everyone is delf isolating (idolating?), it makes sense that jokers would want somethign to read at certain points. but what do people even read anymore? what niche excellence will get people interested again? it's the eternal struggle, but i'm here today to say...i haven't cracked the code.

that said, i have been doing a lot of listening to classic dnb and jungle, and have been itching to get things rolling at some point. i don't have a controller, though, so until then, i might need to be utilizing this space more. no promises, and even if, it'd be on some chill shit.

or it'll just be a bunch of rockthedub radio sessions. who even knows.

just wanted to say i haven't forgotten y'all. shouts to y'all. i forget who much fun it used to be to stretch and explore on this side of the web. might need to do that every now and again.

until then...

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Conversations W/ Cause Pt. 2

At the beginning of the new year, The Cause dropped a dope Teyana Taylor remix; that sparked us getting back in contact, which then turned into Cause asking me to sit down with him for Part 2 of his "Conversations W/ Cause" series, which he kicked off in December of 2018. After chopping it up while driving through his stomping grounds, we sat down to talk about everything—his last project, The Release Party, growing as an artist and a person, working with the legendary DoItAll, and much more. It was dope chopping it up with him and having a real convo about the life of an artist and his varying inspirations in general.

Check the full conversation below, and just in case you haven't checked it out, dive into Cause's Release Party.

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DJ Sega Continues His 'Vision' With Explosive New Mixtape

Been a bit since I've taken in a new mixtape from Philly's unsung hero DJ Sega. He's back with a new mix, Vision, for the 2-0-2-0, and it's just as frantic and inspiring as his previous work. One of the beacons of the Philly club scene (and the club scene worldwide, truth be told), Sega's whipped up this 20-track selection of original bangers and remixes, giving his latest statement as an artist in this insane world. "Hindsight, foresight, and the unseen" is what he has listed in the description of this one; press play and dive deeper into the current mindstate of the mighty Sega.


1.) Evacuation (The Chase)
2.) Let’s Go God!
3.) Rose In Harlem
4.) Breathe And Stop 2020
5.) Icon
6.) Crack
7.) Boogie Wonderland
8.) Super Bad Brother Sega
9.) This Is America
10.) Don’t Get Comfortable
11.) Wu-Tang 2020
12.) New Jack City Theme
13.) Mellosmoothe
14.) Boots
15.) Wanna Get Wit U
16.) Love
17.) Don’t Walk Away Dub
18.) Jarrod
19.) Mask Off
20.) I Thought About Killing You
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The Cause Drops His Flip of Teyana Taylor's "We Got Love"

It's been over a year since we got new material from The Cause, so it's dope to not only get some fire from him, but fire that is helping manifest the right energy we need for the new year. Something about this Teyana Taylor cut inspired Cause enough to get in the studio, come up with his own loop, record his bars, then mix the cut down himself. Sounds like that anthemic determination to me.

Stream and download his "We Got Love" remix below, and watch this space for more.

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RIP Optiv

Sad news coming from the dnb world today; Edward Holmes, known fondly as dnb producer/label head Optiv of the legendary Cause 4 Concern, is said to have passed away.

While not a creator of the neurofunk sound, Optiv—as a part of the then-quartet C4C—played a huge part in helping the sound grow, netting releases on their self-titled imprint in 1999 before spreading their wings to imprints like Virus, Renegade Hardware, Timeless, Metro, True Playaz, and a host of others. While they were on their tear, Optiv set up his own imprint, Red Light Recordings, which not only nurtured the future of the scene, but also helped usher in established talents like Black Sun Empire to the larger dnb realm.

It was via Red Light that Optiv started a long list of collaborations, linking with Bulletproof and Gridlok early. Always one to link with producers to explore the darker side of the dnb sound, Optiv found a kindred spirit in BTK, who he started releasing material with in 2011, resulting in three album-length projects released during their union (2012's Dirty Tricks, 2014's Blackjack, and Authentic Part One, which dropped in 2016).

No cause of death is being shared at this time, but that hasn't stopped drum & bass community from sharing condolences along with their thoughts on his legacy.

We put together an Apple Music playlist full of our favorite tunes from Optiv's extensive catalog. Tune in and celebrate his legacy. Rest in peace, Optiv.

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Will Drum & Bass Blow Up In America In 2020?

One of the most common sayings at the end of a year is "(insert the next year) is my year." I see every rapper, DJ, and wannabe influencer on that wave on the reg. I never thought it'd be uttered about drum & bass in America...nor would it start from a dubstep producer.

"In 2020 can we get more dubstep DJs to play a bit of dnb in their sets?" Downlink asked on January 1, going on to say that, "[a]s a collective we have the ability to influence whats poppin, and I think the headbangers could enjoy a bit of dnb as they become more familiar with it. Its also fun to change it up from a mixing perspective." He isn't wrong; the world of dubstep and drum & bass aren't that separate; hell, 10 years ago(!) the dnb world started experimenting in dubstep sounds via the drumstep genre, which is still kinda vibing to this day (although on a much lower level, which a number of smaller artists). In any case, that tweet turned into a conversation (using the #dnb2020 hashtag) that's still going on in some segments of the internet: How can we get drum & bass to blow up, particularly for the EDM mainstream? Currently, there's no right answer, as it's hard to pin down exactly where the issue is.

On the onset, it's not like dnb hasn't had its time in the sun in the American mainstream. Roni Size/Reprazent's "Brown Paper Bag" video got some prime-time MTV rotation, most memorably (for me) on MTV's 12 Angry Viewers program back in the late '90s—they were also doing their American tours around that time as well. The biggest EDM festivals in America—Ultra and EDC—have had everyone from Pendulum to Andy C rinsing their stages 15-16 years ago, and seem to always have some kind of representation on their massive lineups. And some of the bigger UK artists, including Subfocus and Chase & Status, have name recognition among ravers. So what gives?

To this junglist—who's lived in America all of his life and has been listening to jungle and drum & bass since '95—it sounds like there are a number of factors, based on what a number of producers, DJs, and writers have been bringing up:
  • There's no room for newer/smaller artists when the same bigger acts are being booked. This is no surprise; the same big name DJs I was going to see in 2000 are more than likely the same big DJs I'm seeing on flyers for Miami Music Week dnb events, or just at the biggest shows across the country. Some have said that the gatekeepers are holding certain acts or artists back, which we can't say isn't true, although we'd need to dive deeper to know the who, what and why.
  • There's not enough of a scene here. This is a weird one; there's always pockets for dnb across the country, including NYC, parts of California, Philly, and a number of other states. The thing is, it's always the same big cities with people flocking to the same lineups. There could be a dope producer in your local town, but if your local promoters can't get enough people to come through to a venue on a regular basis, you can't really nurture a thriving scene.
  • There's not enough knowledge about the scene. This is a tough one; As a guy who ran a fairly strong EDM website for a few years, one that concentrated on the bigger festival sounds as well as everything from footwork to dnb, the appetite for drum & bass was definitely lower, no matter who was making the tunes.
I'd assume there are other reasons, but it feels like the real problem is a combination of those factors, plus a bunch more. I'm more leaning to the side of Americans not giving a fuck about music clocking in at ~170BPM compared to other styles, but it seems like at a festival, people playing the hardest drum & bass should be getting ravers hype. Sounds like it should be easy...so how do we get past this?

Personally, I recommend there be some united front. No shade to the dubstep scene, but I think the American dnb scene really needs to build a new foundation. I'd love to see a situation where a dedicated group of people start a site that has multiple purposes: educating newcomers from the EDM scene about drum & bass as a whole, while highlighting American acts who are killing it, both here and abroad. This can include podcasts, a mix series, interviews and profile features, and more. And it shouldn't discriminate; it needs to be about the music, regardless of gender, race, or anything like that. If it's dope, it's highlighted. Simple. I also think we need some new life in the scene, a new outlook, or some new personalities. People outside of the scene always call it elitist, which it has been and can be; it's a huge turn off for newcomers looking to go from being ignorant about the sound to becoming card-carrying junglists. I'm not saying be a Dillon Francis or anything, but we gotta lighten up and have some fun the way we know how.

Again, that's just me. I want the scene to win, but I've wanted the scene to grow off the backs of the Sutpen's Jungle shows Goodie Goodie and the Substitution crew threw back in 2000. Loads of UK talent, but also the heaviest hitters stateside. And those are still the greatest sets I'd heard as a raver. With acts like The Burner Brothers set to drop their first album in 2020, along with artists like Ownglow and Flite getting a bigger name on the strength of their productions, now can and should be the time.

Or things will just go the way Alix Perez said.

Either way, we'll still be here.
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