Written by Rob Schenk
To many, the name Dub-Stuy is synonymous with the 15,000 watt hand built rig that’s been steadily powering New York’s underground sound system scene for close to a decade. With over 30 vinyl releases from a diverse roster of globally-known musicians and local NYC talent, the affiliated record label has grown into an internationally recognized home for sound system music, connecting the dots between Jamaican dub, hip-hop and bass music with an emphasis on emerging US based artists.
Here’s a guide to Dub-Stuy record’s essential releases so far:
- Tour De Force – Battle Cry (2014)
The record that started it all. Formed in the early days of the label’s inception, Tour De Force was the first major act associated with the collective . Featuring DJ Q-Mastah and producer/vocalist Double Tiger, the record quickly gained global popularity with its spirited horn lines and powerful melodies. An intensely gratifying mixture of reggae, dub and electronic genres, Battle Cry helped re-energize the sound system scene in the United States. It also inspired a remixed version of the album and multiple international tours.
- DJ Madd – Kingdom SP (2015)
This single marked the beginning of Dub-Stuy’s collaboration with global electronic artists, featuring Hungarian-born and now US-based producer DJ Madd in fine form. Using rolling snares and a rubber-band bass line, this 165 bpm track screams to be played on a sound system, melding drum and bass with dub to craft a dark, ominous sound.
- Dubamine – String Up the Sound EP (2016)
A record in such high demand that the label recently issued a repress (which sold out within the day) this EP features hitherto-unknown California artist Dubamine in stripped back, heavyweight style. Minimalist drums and guitar mix with pulsating bass lines and a bevy of featured artists – including the legendary Carlton Livingston, Brixton-based MC Brother Culture and Blackout JA – creating an EP that helped crystallize Dub-Stuy’s reputation as international innovators of sound system culture and music.
- Various Artists – Kunta Kinte Riddim (2017)
The second installment in Dub-Stuy’s riddim series, which pays homage to Jamaican riddim tradition with modern twists and international casts of vocalists. DJ Madd reimagines the classic riddim with a crisp, snare-driven percussion line artfully mixed with the riddim’s trademark flute melody and anchored by a hulking bassline. The lead single “Nah Sell Out” featuring the infamous Burro Banton became a worldwide hit, and is probably the most well known Dub-Stuy track to date. Dub-Stuy’s version of this legendary riddim is a perfect example of how they connect old and new styles, crafting a sound that is equal parts classic and contemporary.
- Iration Steppas x Liondub – Outlook Launch 7” White Label (2017)
Dub-Stuy’s white label catalog began in 2017, focusing on highly limited pressings created to commemorate the label’s events and features exclusive cuts from the event’s guests . The second 7” in the series showcases the fabled Iration Steppas from Leeds and Liondub from NYC, with Iration digging deep in their archive for an unreleased acid steppers cut that detonates the dancefloor. Liondub’s hypnotic bass pulses provide a nice contrast of subtlety while steadily building pressure, balancing the record to create an incredible piece of bass music.
- Bukkha & Madplate Sound – Obliterate SP (2017)
Equal parts spiritual and dance floor-ready, this record is a transcontinental dub collaboration. Brixton MC Brother Culture’s lyrics call on the listener to banish the forces of evil and doubt, strengthened by a meditative snare-forward steppers beat and earth-shattering bass crafted by Bukkha and Italian duo Madplate Sounds. Conceived in the traditional 3 part format of original vocal, vocal dub and instrumental dub, the flip side sees UK producer Vibronics layer additional instrumentation, heavily increasing the bass pressure to solidify this single as one of the heaviest releases in Dub-Stuy’s discography.
- Von D – Wicked Scam EP (2017)
2017 was a big year for the label; the last release of the year came from veteran producer Von D debuting on the label with a four track EP of electric, socially conscious dub, featuring a bevy of world-class lyricists. Jahdan Blakkamoore brings the heat on ‘Wicked Scam,’ condemning the 1% and the corrupt politicians that rule over society. Legendary DJ Lone Ranger comes next, chatting on a roots-inspired track that asks for people to join the dance. Von D closes the EP with a powerful concoction, utilizing galactic amounts of reverb and echo to construct a mighty tribute to the tradition of dub music.
- Ras G & Moresounds – Ras G Meets Moresounds EP (2018)
Featuring two artists with radically different backgrounds and visions, Dub-Stuy unites Ras G and Moresounds to explore the outer reaches of dub and electronic music. Ras G’s hip-hop beats receive an injection of bit-crushed, dubbed-out samples in ‘Gorilla Glue,’ his use of bass creating an eerie, loopy steppers sound. On the flip, Moresounds crafts punchy, dub-inspired electronic music that alarms and entrances, with sinister synths and a menacing, marching drum beat on ‘Deep Base.’
- Blind Prophet – Rastaman Chat SP (2018)
A bass-heavy skanker from Portland-based Blind Prophet, featuring Ras Demo aka Demolition Man and featuring a drum & bass remix from Greek producer FLeCK on the flip side. This record helped put Blind Prophet on the map, eventually leading to a dubplate remix from Iration Steppas that cemented this single as a hit. This track is densely layered, and Ras Demo’s harmonies combine with a funky, infectious bass line that almost immediately leads to head-bobbing.
- Jahdan Blakkamoore – The Linkage EP (2019)
Jahdan Blakkamoore and Dub-Stuy come together on this record, formulating complex riddims that simmer with Blakkamoore’s poetry and flow. Ranging from tracks that cultivate a mindful, global viewpoint on ‘Round of Applause’ to party anthems like ‘Absolutely’ and searing political critiques on ‘The Linkage’, the riddims on this record are minimal, heavyweight and built for a sound system. With classics such as the Hot Milk riddim and wholly original drum lines and compositions, this release’s depth and breadth make it an excellent example of Dub-Stuy’s sound: conscious, innovative and timeless.