Moombawhat? How Dubstep Duped Miami


The Miami River’s rippling waters are witness to an ongoing crime scene. There’s been robbery, corruption – and possibly – murder. This is no day-to-day CSI plot arc or local page beat. It’s much, much worse. The shadow of Dubstep now looms over the masses.

The victim? Miami music culture.

The Great Bass Robbery

Miami has always had an intimate history with various manifestations of bass music, especially its own, Miami Bass subgenre of music. But when the ears of the city’s denizens hungered for a new bass banquet near the beginnings of 2009, something went tragically wrong. Instead of looking for a market-fresh bite of sound – like Washington D.C.’s then-new reggaeton-infused Moombahton movement – it went for a canned, decade-old subgenre of exploited British bass music: Dubstep.

If you’re unfamiliar with recent ongoings in this musical food war, a couple of quick culture shots should do:

First is a recent, reasonably popular release of Moombahton. It is Miami’s D.C., reggeaton-dancing cousin – perfect for a heady summer day of nonchalance.

And here’s a similarly recent and popular release of Dubstep. It is a primal, raging, steroided brand of Brtish wobble-bass, perfect for X-box live caffeine ghouls, maybe? Just listen to it, at 0:30. Scary, right?

You tell me which one sounds like Miami. Pick #2, and you just might need a gas mask, like the picture suggests. It’s not that Dubstep music is just a fad that some people are flailing to – it’s that it threatens to become hugely popular with Miami masses. With these musical wires crossed, Miami will miss out on a great opportunity to incorporate Moombahton into both its sub and pop fabrics, adding color to the musical tapestry of the city. Instead, it’s got Dubstep, which has absolutely no contextual relation to Miami, whatsoever. And for some reason (that I can only chalk up to Dubstep actually being a viral infection) people can’t get enough of it.

The result of this grand bait-and-switch is a 2011 Miami full of increasingly mainstream, brain-rotting “wobble”-bass music and a legion of fans twitching for more “sick dropz”. Today, the city has been wracked by a musical contagion that threatens to reach 28 Days Later proportions as Dubstep reaches its cultural critical mass.

This all while Moombahton – which shares an innumerable amount of relevant contextual musical and social ties with Miami, goes on mostly unnoticed, even by some of the city’s keener critical ears. Adding insult to injury is the fact that Moombahton is exploding around the country – San Francisco, Austin, New York and yes, D.C. – so why not here? Blame the Brits.

The Day The Music Died

The outbreak of Miami’s Dubstep zombification process started as many movie plagues do: off a boat/plane that’s come halfway around the world, with the involvement of a big government organization. This infectious journey began after London’s once marginal, bass-head, sub-“sub”-culture was mined of all its cultural relevancy in early 2000. By 2006, Dubstep’s primalistic, break-beat hold was no longer the thing of dingy London nightmares. BBC radio noticed its ability to control mass groups, and quickly took to spamming the airwaves. Soon, the U.S. was awash in the characteristic death-knell of U.K.’s Dubstep movement: wobble-bass music. Today, that virus has been made very real in Miami, no thanks to the likes of Britney Spears, Rihanna, and any other pop appropriators. It’s a shame this city just might miss out on a sound like Moombahton just because of the incredible economic and social power of the American teenage girl. Miami’s music culture has already begun showing signs of Dubstep syndrome. Symptoms inculde: vacant expression, brain-rotting, head and neck convulsions masked as dancing, and finally, culture death. Let’s combat this contaminant by spreading the word: Dubstep – pa fuera!

*Cue Moombahton Pool Party*