Clarifying the origin of the term "dubstep"

There’s a lot going round saying that dubstep was coined in 2002, or that its appearance in the Issue 60 of XLR8R (July 2002) was the first. I just want to give a whole bunch of evidence that this isn’t true: dubstep was used in 2001, even before FWD>> started in August 2001.

A snippet from the liner notes of Steppa’s Delight on Soul Jazz Records explaining the origin:
It was Hatcha, according to Arthur ‘Artwork’ Smith, who first coined the term dubstep. “Benny Ill used to come in the shop. Back in the early garage days he was trying to make garage but he was putting the snare on the wrong beat, on the three beat. He was making dub reggae garage. We were like ‘this is weird’ but Hatcha loved it and called it dubstep. It was very dubby, but it wasn’t 2-step. It was Benny Ill that started it, without a doubt.”

April 5, 2001 archive:
With his crew of producers including DJ Jay De Flex, Roxy, Nude, Blaze and MC Juiceman, the Ghost crew are pushing a spooky yet warm dub step vibe, maintaining all the dynamic syncopations that 2step garage innovated, without falling back on the vibeless rigid ‘bloke step’ of much now filed under ‘breakbeat garage’.

August 11, 2001 archive:
kode9 - Dub Steppa Mix [break-step garage]

October 8, 2001 archive:
Many of these rogue dubsteppas, lab technicians, and carriers operate under several different handles, runnin with a range of speed tribes, so keep your ears open for sonic clues, cross-hatching and double-agency.

Tempa dub step flava [alt for the Tempa image]

October 9, 2001 archive:
With a dubsteppa sound emanating from the southside’s deepest recesses, comes the label TEMPA.

November 29, 2001:
With the other Ghost crew members, Roxy, Nude, Blaze and Es-G, El-B and J ‘Da’ Flex have spent the early 21st century pushing a spooky yet warm dub step vibe, maintaing all the dynamic syncopations and swing that 2step innovated.

Ghost 002 and 003 followed, carring the dub step vibe deeper with ‘Hesitation’, ‘Count it Off’, ‘Lyrical Tempo’, ‘Bison 2′, ‘the Spooks’ and ‘Assasin’.

Taking the Ghost thing even deeper, with their rootsy organ stabs, socatronic percussion and dread samplemania, the Horsepower productions crew (Benny ill, Nassis and Lev Jnr.) are pushing this vibe on the immaculate dubstep imprint Tempa

February 24, 2002 archive:
Roxy & Es-G increase the pressure on 002, 004 & 005, adding almost imperceptible, fleeting, glimmers of hip hop, reggae, soca & disco into the dark dubstep

March 13, 2002 radio description:
Hosted by Kode9 and running since mid-2001, the Hyperdub Transmssion show on has been pushing dubstep flavas to a worldwide audience. Check the most recent shows below. Hyperdub Transmission 13.03.02 with kode9 and guest El-B (Ghost) Hyperdub Transmission 13.02.02 with kode9 and guest Benny ill (Horsepower)

June 11, 2002 archive:
’Stick’n’Move’ - New Flesh (Horsepower dub mix) - The dubstep masters strip it down.
‘Swindle’ - Horsepower - Absolutely righteous. More cinematic sounds from the original dubsteppas.

Finally, the July 2002 issue of XLR8R
(This is the one that gets labelled as the origin. In reality, it was just the magazine that popularized it. No point highlighting all the times it occurs, it’s on the cover for fuck’s sake…)

If anyone’s got more knowledge on the origin, it would great to hear it.


I was saying the same thing in another thread, but yeah, 2001 is when Dubstep started being called that.

whatever happened to breakstep

An article by Kode9 from mid-2001 in which he only once refers to the stuff coming out of Tempa as dubstep. Just wondering if this is the earliest example on paper. Either way an interesting article

Wikipeedonya says 1998 but without an attribution or even outright assertion.

Who the hell thought 2001 was late 90’s?

Everyone should just read the Vice article that Lauren Martin did. It’s pretty great. It covers just about everything you would want to know and it does it by interviewing almost all of the originators of the genre or the people involved in bringing the sound to the people through various mediums.




There also a book called Energy Flash by Simon Reynolds that references it. Only a small section but the entire book is a really interesting read. Pop down your local library (It’s that place where they have thousands of printed out PDFs :wink: )

Timbaland coined the term “dub bass” & benny ill just changed the 2nd word b/c he didn’t want to sound like a copycat

1 BigUp

dubstep’s only mentioned in the 2nd edition of the book. and reynolds doesn’t really focus too much on it since he sees dubstep as jungle pt 2

@ultraspatial, if you’re available first.

He said the title in the post: energy flash

1 BigUp

i remember brostep bein coined on the old forum in 2009

It’s featured on the Tempa roots of dubstep album insert

Can anyone link any examples of the “bloke step” garage that kode9 was talking about ??

Great article.

Great thread Matt! Thank you for making this one! :bluethumb: