AJ Tracey: “I will not be making any more grime music”
Known as one of the eminent originators of dubstep, the deep, dark and meditative genre simply wouldn’t exist without Mark Lawrence, aka Mala.
The Deep Medi label head and Digital Mystikz co-founder’s influence can not be overstated – having entered London’s underground scene as a jungle MC as a 14-year-old, he went on to run seminal clubnight DMZ and worked on a wealth of his own, speaker-obliterating productions both in London and in Cuba, collaborating with local musicians there.
This weekend, he’s going to be exploring the history and influence of the genre at London’s Southbank Centre with the 20-piece Outlook Orchestra, who’ll be offering up new interpretations of Mala’s own productions and remixes, plus a host of tunes dusted off from the Deep Medi and DMZ back catalogue.
Mala has always been someone happy to give credit where it’s due, and, ahead of the show on Sunday, he’s put together this playlist of his all-time-favourite, low-end mining anthems. Get ready to meditate on bass weight…
1. Kode9 & The Spaceape – ‘Nine Samurai’
“I guess you could say Kode9 was instrumental in the creation of dubstep as a genre. Not one of his earliest tracks but for me shows the diversity our music genre had with its use of interesting samples as well as a heavy soundsystem stamp. The sample is just epic.”
2. Coki – ‘Haunted’
“This track by Coki is one of the tracks that laid the blueprint for a style of dubstep basslines that would shape the genre for years to come with his signature ‘wobble’. He was one of the first to do it and still to this day no-one can really recreate the sound of a Coki bassline. We grew up together – I remember the first time I heard this, in his car at the end of my street. It was unfinished then. I just laughed. I was so amazed someone I knew so well could produce something so abstract and alien. It sounded like nothing else. This track still shuts down a rave every time.”
3. Loefah – ‘Horror Show’
“This track laid down the blueprint for the minimal/half-step style of bass music which still gets produced today. Spare and haunting. One of the heaviest basslines ever designed.”
4. Kromestar – ‘Kalawanji’ ft. Cessman
“This was my record label’s first release, Deep Medi 001. Kromestar remains a prolific producer still today, but this track has stood the test of time. It is one of the most recognisable basslines in the genre. Classic.”
5. Goth-Trad – ‘Cut End’
“Goth-Trad was responsible for putting Japan’s dubstep scene on the map. This was his first release on Deep Medi, back in 2007. This really fused his Japanese roots with UK sound system culture.”
6. Benny Ill and DJ Hatcha – ‘Highland Spring’
“I love the flutes and the grooves on this track, and the way the bassline drives. This was a very early dubstep track. A personal favourite.”
7. Silkie – ‘Beauty’
“Silkie brought a different musicality to a genre which was often very minimal, dark and heavy. Silkie’s grooves and colours always uplifts a dance. I think this track is a great example of that Silkie vibe.”
8. Commodo, Gantz and Kahn – ‘Unmistakable’
“This is my favourite track from the LP called ‘Volume 1’. In a way this is an example of breaking the boundaries of what a genre ‘should’ sound like. I love that spirit and mentality because it’s the approach many of us came with in the scene’s infancy. No rules, no boundaries. experiments and vibes.”
9. Benga – ’26 Basslines’
“Technically, musically and rhythmically this track shows us why Benga was one of the most exciting producers in dubstep.”
10. Skream – ‘Oskilatah’
“So much can be said about Skream, that’s what I love about this track. This is raw skream. Nasty bassline, heavy drums and mad digital synths.”
As a bonus, Mala gave us the tracks of his own he feels are his fan’s favourites:
‘Anti War Dub’
“This started out as just a jingle idea and it was left on my hard-drive for a couple of years. It was just the bassline and the vocal. When I rediscovered it a couple of years later, I laid down the drums, made the arrangement and that was that.”
“I’m picking this one as it’s been re-sampled by so many people. It’s been remixed by many other producers, almost monthly get edits and remixes sent to me. Rap artists seem to connect with it too. It’d been sampled by The Game, A$AP Ferg, Lil Dicky, and ‘Look at Me’ by XXXTentacion.”
Mala appears with the Outlook Orchestra at the Southbank Centre this Sunday 2nd December – find tickets here.