In Defense Of "Fratstep:" An Open Letter To James Blake
[Editor's Note: Fuck Guilty Pleasures celebrates the over-produced, commercial, artless, lowbrow music that we believe is genuinely worthwhile. Like, among the best music ever.]
Hear me out, James Blake. I like you, man, I really do. That minimalist, indie dubstep you're bringing over from England is first-rate, and that bass on "Limit to Your Love" is rad. But this fall you were in serious violation of the bro code when you spoke out against American dubstep in the Boston Pheonix. To refresh your memory:
"I think the dubstep that has come over to the US, and certain producers have definitely hit upon a sort of frat-boy market where there's this macho-ism being reflected in the sounds. It's a million miles away from the ethos of it. It's been influenced so much by electro and rave, into who can make the dirtiest, filthiest bass sound, almost like a pissing competition."Being in a UCLA fraternity myself, I must disagree. First of all, let's just go ahead and call a spade a spade: you're talking about fratstep. In fact, you yourself inspired that term, which critics began using after the Phoenix interview in reference to songs produced by DJs like Excision, Datsik, and Skrillex. It tends to be more hard-hitting and less subtle than the kind you make. I suppose you could even call it brainless and throbbing.
And yeah, that "wub wub wub" you hear projecting from our house? Definitely fratstep. But you're reading too much into it, brah! I can assure you the music is not any sort of misogynist or philosophical statement. It's just part of the atmosphere of daily life on the row. The fratmosphere.
Sure, it might not be particularly intellectual. But that's not the point. Let me explain: I used to share your opinion about fratstep, actually. I'm more of a hipster than the other guys in the house, and I initially didn't understand the appeal.
But that was before I first heard fratstep at a Thirsty Thursday. That happened last spring, and it all suddenly clicked. It's the perfect music for when you're obliterated. Behold the overbearing bass and slow tempos, which ensure that no matter how much you've had to drink, your brain can still follow the beat. (The massive pounding in your chest helps.)