Youngsta should need very little introduction by now. One of the figureheads of dubstep since the very beginning, long-running resident at scene-defining club night FWD>> and the DJ who first played some of the genre’s most-loved anthems, he continues to be a hugely active figure in dubstep’s development. His weekly show on Rinse FM draws deep for new music, helping to expose and break talented new producers, and the founding ethics that defined dubstep in its early years still remain at the heart of his DJ set.
He’s also famed for his distinct aesthetic – selecting beats that are at once colossally heavy and beautifully intricate, claustrophobic yet with a keen ear for space and silence. “The sound is just me,” he says, explaining that he’s hesitant to pigeonhole the music he plays. “It’s Youngsta. It’s what I’ve always done. People say it’s not changed much, but you can hear progression and change, definitely, it’s not the same as it was. It’s obviously the same vibe, it’s going to to be deep.”
In the last couple of years, as the deeper aspects of dubstep – those rooted strongly in sound system culture – have coalesced into their own distinct, autonomous scene, Youngsta has re-emerged as a figurehead for a new generation of producers. The likes of J:Kenzo, Proxima, Icicle, VIVEK and Nomine are all closely linked with Youngsta himself, forming a new vanguard in an increasingly unique, vibrant scene. Contact – a new club night curated by Youngsta himself – is set to place these producers and others in the context of the wider dance community that surrounds them.
So it’s perhaps surprising that it took until 2012 – eleven years since FWD>> first opened its doors – for Youngsta’s debut solo 12″ to arrive on Tempa, featuring the tracks ‘Destruction’ and ‘Poseidon’. ‘Destruction’ takes a while to live up to its ominous title, with clouds gradually gathering throughout the track before finally erupting into a huge and violent thunderstorm. Aptly named after the Greek god of the sea, ‘Poseidon’ is a gorgeous, dub-infused roller, driven by a rubbery bassline that thrashes back and forth above a swung rhythm that nods to two-step.
In many ways both tracks cut right to the core of the Youngsta sound – sub-bass is a constant and oppressive presence, while sparse rhythms and ghostly melodies lend a sense of unbroken flow. Along with his collaborations with fellow artists such as LX One and Kryptic Minds, they’re potent reminders of the physical and psychological power of Youngsta’s DJ sets, now further expressed through his own music.