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“My DJing career is finished”: A Look Back at Benga’s Contributions to Dubstep and Dance Music

British producer Benga, one of the original pioneers of dubstep, announced this weekend that he was ceasing his work as a DJ in order to start a family with his fiance. While it’s not completely clear whether or not he’ll be retiring from music altogether, his contributions as a performer and radio show host will certainly be missed.

 

Why is this so important? Let’s take a glance at Benga’s DJing career to look back at all he did for the dance music and dubstep community today:

Messing around with DJing since his age was in the single-digits, Benga (born Adegbenga Adejumo) and his friends found themselves in the Big Apple record shop, in their hometown of Croydon, South London, at the same time early dubstep producer Hatcha happened to be spinning. Brave enough to challenge him and show off his productions, Benga’s work caught Hatcha’s attention, and by the age of 14, he was spinning alongside him in the London spots that were introducing new bass-heavy electronic sounds to club-goers. The record shop’s imprint label signed him on, and this circle of South Londoners during the early 2000’s became the earliest dubstep artists.

By 2007, Benga was part of the OG dubstep supergroup along with Skream and Artwork, Magnetic Man, which put out a handful of original collections and played killer live sets through the rest of the decade. Early 2008 saw the release of Benga’s groundbreaking Diary of an Afro Warrior, but the rest of his singles, EPs, and albums from his career are not to be discounted: they embody that early, drum-heavy, wobbling bass dubstep sound that mainstream artists today borrow from all the time, which was ultimately influential in the DJing side of dubstep as well.

Aside from his work in the studio, we can also thank Benga for bringing the dubstep sound to DJing consciousnesses through his BBC Radio 1 show with fellow Croydon pioneer Oliver “Skream” Jones. The pair have become synonymous with the act of introducing UK dubstep to the world during the tail end of the 2000’s. Interestingly, there was a time when Benga rejected the “dubstep” label so often attributed to him, wanting instead to keep “pushing boundaries and moving around” in the world of music. But one has to give him credit for establishing the genre – his influence is undeniable.

The rest is history. When Skrillex won three Grammy awards in 2012, he gave a shout-out to “all the Croydon dub guys that started this all in 2003”. He was referring to Big Apple records in South London – and most definitely, to Benga. Obviously, dubstep had come a long way.

Skream tweeted a farewell to Benga earlier in the weekend. He’ll surely be missed, but hopefully he’ll remain in the music industry. And there’s always hope for an occasional show again someday as well!

 

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