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More on L.A.'s Bass History, Including "Gangster Ravers"

More on L.A.'s Bass History, Including "Gangster Ravers"
Drum 'n' bass' first star, Goldie, via goldie.co.uk.

We recently published a piece on the history of L.A. bass music, which despite some good information neglected a few years. We'd like to fill in the gaps.

See also: A History of Bass Music in Los Angeles

First, let's take it way back. This will be a little controversial, but seeing that the likes of Egyptian Lover saw a comeback during the late-aughts' "electro" phase, let's go there: Los Angeles was an epicenter of early hip-hop music made for break-dancing:

2 Live Crew's Miami bass music in the early 1980s actually has L.A. roots and came via an L.A. label. And Dr. Dre's pre-NWA project was known as the L.A. Dream Team. It produced up-tempo break-dance music for the head-spinners.

Add DJ Unknown and Egyptian Lover to the mix, and you had a full on electro explosion only a few years after the seminal New York track "Planet Rock."

Rave's late '80s hip-house era (Jungle Brothers, Mr. Lee, Wee Papa Girls, Coldcut) was welcomed in Southern California, and by the early 1990s the break-beat rave sounds of the Suburban Base and Moving Shadow labels, not to mention Aphex Twin ("Didgeridoo") and Prodigy, were rocking warehouse raves.

By 1994 the up-tempo breaks sound of U.K. rave culture was being called drum 'n' bass, and it found a home with local DJs such as Josh Swissman, R.A.W. and Machete, who played at raves far and wide.

That year U.K. drum 'n' bass artist Lemon D produced a track called "South Central L.A.," and the followed up in 1995 with, "This is L.A.," a track that samples NBC's Tom Brokaw saying, "This is Los Angeles, gang capital of the nation."

Indeed, the L.A. D&B scene could be surly, to say the least. The term "gangster ravers" was not an exaggeration.

 

In 1995, when Goldie's Timeless was released and LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad hit the scene, a full-on D&B revolution was in effect. Their sound was more ambient, and "intelligent" (and less "rough and rugged"). You could hear some of those new flavors at Jason Bentley's Santa Monica club night, Bossa Nova.

By 1997 URB magazine founder Raymond Roker was on it, taking to the decks himself and putting on a well-received night called Science.

By the late '90s drum n' bass was a staple as a side stage at increasingly larger and larger raves.

At the turn of the millennium, dubstep came along and borrowed a lot of D&B's bass. At the same time, drum 'n' bass kept moving along in L.A., on its own tangent.

We would argue that the street soul of D&B didn't survive with dubstep, however, and that many of the hoodie-wearing fans of drum 'n' bass want nothing to do with the hipster-stylings of contemporary, superstar dubstep.

That dubstep fans, caught in a backlash, want to reconnect with their drum 'n' bass' roots and embrace the title of "bass music" speaks volumes. It reminds us of when trance went out of style and all of a sudden those practicing it were really producing "house." Sure.

Yesterday's history of bass music story hints at this, and gets it right, saying that after Skrillex's straight-to-magazine-covers (including ours, which was his first feature interview) debut ...

... Dubstep became a million dollar industry and the local scene gave way to an international phenomenon with a vastly different sound. It was around this point that some began to detach themselves from genre definitions and show love for the all-inclusive term 'Bass.'

Let the bass reign.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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