What We Like is a series that features genres we like in the electronic music scene. This month’s edition is focused on Riddim!
The What We Like series focuses on a sole genre that a contributor to the team is passionate about. Each month, that contributor will dive deep into the genre they care most about to bring you some history, information, and of course some music too. Our intention is to not just to provide some music for you to listen to, but to guide you on your journey in discovering new music or help you develop a deeper connection to genres you already love. This month’s edition of What We Like is focused on Riddim!
Riddim stems from dub, reggae, and dancehall.
The term “riddim” is the Jamaican Patois pronunciation of “rhythm,” coined for its repetitive, minimalistic layers and triplet percussion arrangements. Other characteristics of Riddim are LFO (low-frequency oscillation) sawtooth waves, wide delays, and lots of flanger and chorus filters. What this all translates to is the wonky, repetitive, neck-snapping sound we equate Riddim with today.
This dubstep subgenre first began in the UK and found its way to the US through the underground scene. The term has been used by MCs since the early days of dancehall and garage and was only recently adopted by Americans to describe what was originally referred to as “wonky dubstep,” among other names. Though having been around for years, Riddim as we know it started gaining a larger and more mainstream presence around 2015.
Though many claim to hate its repetitiveness and static production, many industry artists have taken their own personal spin on the subgenre while retaining its primary elements.
At the roots of the genre are several artists, including Jakes and Rusko.
To get something straight: all Riddim is dubstep, but not all dubstep is Riddim. Since Riddim is a branch of dubstep, their histories and OG artists are closely intertwined. Though not prescribed as a “Riddim DJ,” Rusko is one of the original dubstep producers who began using Riddim-esque bassline patterns. Featuring an emphasis on sub-bass, this collaborated effort between Rusko and Caspa outlines the shell of what Riddim is. Check it out below!
Stream Caspa & Rusko – Riddem Again on YouTube:
Of course, you can’t talk history without bringing up Jakes. Hailing from Bristol, England, Jakes is the father of dubstep crew H.E.N.C.H. and started out as a well-respected MC as part of the Bristol-based Ledge crew. Eventually, Jakes would begin producing dark Drum & Bass. This dubstep OG is also seen as one of the beginners of the sound we call Riddim today. Check out one of his tracks below and pay attention to the wobbly repetition of chords.
Listen to Jakes – Doomsday Machina on YouTube:
Of course, there are many other artists who have contributed to the rise of the genre. Subfiltronik and others from the Monsters label have long been seen as some of the earliest Riddim producers, though their sound was altered from the foundation that producers such as Jakes and Rusko had set. Bukez Finezt, Coffi, and Kromestar have also been recognized for assisting in building the genre into the wonky, wubbly, hard-hitting sound that it is today.
Over the years, Riddim was tweaked by an increasing amount of producers.
Though it has been around for a while, it really blew up with the release of several tracks. One of these staple tracks was “Yasuo” by Bommer & Crowell. Possibly the most sampled Riddim track, this tune features the quintessential chopped layers as well as the famed “Ha huh he huh” vocal sample that producers can’t get enough of. It has a sound that makes you want to bob your neck to every savage and halted bass dip, which makes Riddim such a fan favorite.
Listen to Bommer & Crowell – Yasuo on YouTube:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Phiso‘s “Jotaro”, the 2016 track that shook the world with its shreds of neckbreaking percussion arrangements. In addition to Phiso’s hit track, BadKlaat, Infekt, and P0gman have tweaked Riddim from its original sound. Hailing from Never Say Die: Black Label and Disciple Records, these artists and many more are seen to be examples of established labels becoming more in tune with the trend. Check out Phiso’s “Jotaro” below!
Check out Phiso – Jotaro on YouTube:
Now, Riddim is widely known and uniquely incorporated by many DJs.
One of the most recognizable Riddim DJs today is Monxx, who has toured alongside Excision on his Paradox tour. With wonky snares and repetitive slaps of bass, Monxx has gained quite a bit of popularity with “The Wonky Song”. The track is a staple amongst the dubstep and Riddim community and often makes appearances in nearly everyone’s sets.
Listen to Monxx & Walter Wilde – The Wonky Song on YouTube:
Though Monxx is inevitably one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking of current Riddim, there are many other artists who should be recognized for their creative spin on the subgenre. Boogie T and SQUNTO, who often go back to back, are two artists who take the genre and morph it into something completely different.
We wouldn’t be talking about Riddim if we didn’t bring up chopping, which is the use of crossfaders on the mixer to shift into one song or another while focusing on making the beat sound unified. SQUNTO’s intense chopping is some of the heaviest in the game, taking the genre to a whole new level.
Boogie T’s track “Raven Master” is one of my all-time favorites both for its hilarious vocal commentary, which at one point says, “Everbody talkin’ riddim man but all it is is dubstep!”, and its trippy, liquified take on Riddim. Check it out below!
Stream Boogie T – Raven Master on YouTube:
Other artists are taking Riddim to levels never seen before and emphasizing existing elements while adding their personal spin. For example, SVDDEN DEATH has taken the genre by storm with tracks such as “Last Life”, “Take Ya Head Off”, and “Shut Em Down”. With an infectious heavy sound, SVDDEN DEATH is proving to be one of the biggest names in Riddim and dubstep. Check out his track “Shut Em Down” below and see for yourself!
Stream SVDDEN DEATH – Take Ya Head Off on YouTube:
To summarize, Riddim is a subgenre of dubstep that shares similar sound design, but is an entirely different beast of its own.
As an increasingly popular subgenre of dubstep, we’re ready to be seeing more of Riddim. With such basic characteristics, it’s able to be uniquely manipulated by artists across the board and made something entirely new. Being a mainstay of bass music, you’re sure to hear it at the next bass music event you attend.
Let us know what genres YOU would like to see in the future in the comments and stay tuned for next month’s edition of What We Like!