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The bubbling roots of Dutch house



Harvard musicologist Wayne Marshall’s main interest is in Jamaican dancehall music and hip-hop, but over the years he has become fascinated with the ways in which these styles, through reggaetón and a Dutch style called bubbling, relate to Dutch house and exert their influence outside of the Netherlands.

With the international success of Dutch DJs like Afrojack, Chuckie and, on a more underground level, Munchie, all three to varying degrees of Afro-Caribean descent, a previously obscure dancehall-subgenre called bubbling has infiltrated global club music. In a one-hour ADE presentation, Wayne Marshall laid bare the musical elements that have constituted this influence over the past two decades. Using Ableton Live on his laptop, he went right to the building blocks of the music.

Starting with a rudimentary 128 BPM house kick, clap and hi-hat framework, Marshall showed how Afrojack and Chuckie have shifted various elements’ rhythmic place in the structure, moving away from a straightforward 4/4 beat. Just by moving the snares and claps away a little bit, a Caribean polyrhythm push-and-pull of threes and fours gives a basic dance track a whole different feel. With bubbling as ‘ur text’, producer Afrojack gave Major Lazer’s smash hit ‘Pon the Floor’ its Caribean rhythm.

A mid-1980s amateur video of Jamaican dancehall star Cutty Ranks freestyling over the popular ‘Sleng Teng’ riddim, with the selector manipulating the beat with the fader, is the starting point for a discussion of the localisation of riddims across the Afro-Caribean diaspora (in New York, Toronto, London, and Holland too) that Jamaican soundsystem has always culture encouraged. The early-nineties ‘Fever Pitch’ riddim seems to have been especially influential, with Surinamese-Dutch DJ Moortje slowing samples down, as well as up. A constant shuffling through familiar elements ensues, a sample mix that is getting chopped up around the Caribean and beyond. The ‘Poco Riddim’ evolves out of this, and through Shabba Ranks’ ‘Dem Bow’ version, gets picked up in the Latin-American world, instigating reggaeton in Puerto Rico.

Bubbling, a ‘small but vibrant scene’ in the Netherlands across the course of the 1990s gives rise to DJ Chuckie. When he branches into the house realm with tracks like ‘The Partycrasher’, he maintains an obvious dancehall/bubbling aesthetic. The latest incarnation of this continuum seems to manifest itself in a style called azonto, popular in Ghana and Nigeria, and their European communities. Rotterdam DJ Deepcover’s SoundCloud page offers somes clues ad to the latest installment of this now global feedback loop.

Wayne Marshall

source: Amsterdam Dance Event

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