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StepperThis post is inspired by a step-steeped day I had recently. While I was getting ready to head out for a night of dubSTEP with Caspa at Bass Goes Boom I was listening to the radio and learned that there’s a dance style called Chicago STEPping.

From Wikipedia:

Chicago stepping is a name given to a dance that has evolved over the years from various other dances. Originally created in Chicago’s predominately African American neighborhoods, the dance has morphed from its beginnings with the Jitterbug in the 30s and 40s, to the Offtime in the 50s, to the Walk and the Chicago Bop in the 60s and 70s.

This revelation came on top of the fact that there’s a style of reggae called STEPpers which has been around at least since the ’70s.

From Wikipedia:

In Steppers, the bass drum plays four solid beats to the bar, giving the beat an insistent drive. An example is “Exodus” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Another common name for the Steppers beat is the “four on the floor”.

As far as I know there are no ties between Chicago stepping and steppers reggae, except that disco had a large influence on both.

Steppers reggae, especially ’80/’90s U.K. steppers dub by artists like Iration Steppers, the Deciples, Alpha & Omega, etc., has a much closer connection to dubstep. This track by Alpha & Omega has a classic steppers sound:

MP3 Download:

Alpha & Omega; Bug Up Dub

Iration Steppers Live Video:
[youtube QWGv2taizyE]

When I played at the Glade Festival in England last summer I noticed some of the sound-systems mixing up dubstep and more traditional steppers reggae. In fact, this mix by Skream from September, ’06 is a good example:

MP3 DJ Mix Download:

Skream on Rinse FM September 27, 2006

One of the aspects of dubstep that holds my attention is that there are so many influences at work on the various tentacles of the genre. Sometimes you can hear the strong U.K.-garage influence, other times drum-n-bass, and quite often reggae, dub, soca, dancehall, and steppers.

9 thoughts on “Stepping-Steppers-Step

  1. you missed the industrial that also has a big influence into the dubstep sounds by some artists in my opinion. anyways, nice review 🙂 ah and btw i feel like that especially from the us there is coming a hiphop influenced dubstep style like flying lotus or starkey fo shizzle 😉

  2. id love it if you could point me in the direction of more “steppers” style music. that track by alpha & omega is awesome – thanks!

  3. Caan haffi dubstep witout di STEP! Sound system culture over in England seems to run things, no?

    I heard the classic stepper riddim “Kunte Kinte” twice that weekend. First forward for Caspa was Rusko’s “Jahovia”, and then Mad Professor opened with three vocals on the riddim to open his set the next night. Top it off with a live dub mix, please and thank you.

    I have a mix on the name link that’s all dubstep and steppers dub. Watch the vibes, youtmon!

  4. Very interesting post indeed!

    I never suspected that there was a name for that particular style of reggae music. But now it is all clear! Fits perfectly with the UK sound system tradition.

    Great find, and big up for the site


  5. Big love the mark and the rest of the iration steppas crew. Always a great night there, and the dubstep scene is a welcomed addition to the already thumping sound.
    The occasional stint of jungle is always a lovely bonus.

    Just a matter of time before the Deltanine soundsystem gets a back room there.


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