Episode 62 - Black Lives Made EDM. 

The Black History of EDM

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Welcome to Episode 62. We dig into the Black history of EDM.

This episode is dedicated to uncovering how shuffling and most modern EDM genres - Trap, Dubstep, and House - were started by, or have roots in, the black community. 

It's important that every raver and EDM champion out there knows the fascinating and inspiring stories of the black lives that created and shaped EDM as we know it today. 

Get ready to learn the true roots of EDM. We promise it will be eye-opening. 

Note: In the coming weeks, we will have a resource page that contains in-depth documentation and written versions of all the topics discussed. As such, the below show notes are not supposed to be representative of all the points we covered. Instead, it serves as a directional guide for the episode. Stay tuned for the full resource page.

Stream the episode here.


  • House music evolved out of Disco in the late 1970s.

    • Thanks to the black and queer community in New York and Chicago.​

    • Responsible for "Garage being exported to the UK and then forming UK Garage.

  • Paradise Garage (nightclub), New York City.

    • Larry Levan.

  • The Warehouse (nightclub), Chicago.

    • DJ Frankie Knuckles​.

    • Importes Records and The Warehouse - the story of how "House" got its name.​

  • The Warehouse and Paradise Garage became a home for people of all backgrounds to celebrate their love of music together.

  • You can also refer to Episode 50 for more in-depth coverage on the history of House.


  • The term “shuffling” actually comes from the Melbourne Shuffle. 

    • The Melbourne Shuffle was used by people dancing to hardstyle and hard trance, not house music. 

  • The style of shuffling you most commonly see in the U.S. should actually be referred to as "cutting shapes"

  • In general, "shuffling" encompasses the following styles: The Charleston, Stomping, and The Running Man

  • ​The Charleston​​

    • Originated from the African Juba Dance​ which was brought to Charleston, South Carolina by slaves.

    • Used as a form of entertainment and communication. 

      • ​Slave owners did not permit their workers to have instruments out of fear of secret code being transmitted to plan an uprising. Juba largely involved the tapping of feet and your own body to create the rhythm and drum patterns to help dancers keep time.

    • Juba also evolved into The Hambone and Tap Dancing

    • Example Juba performance 

    • Example of The Charleston with a tech-house song subbed in. 

  • Stomping​

    • Example video (Stepping)

    • Created by black South African mineworkers as a way for them to communicate with one another and also provide entertainment (while mocking their abusive 'managers')

    • MC Hammer helped spread it across the world.

  • The Running Man 

    • The earliest live performance of the move was during a Fela Kuti concert by one of his backup dancers. He is commonly seen as the pioneer of the Afrobeat genre. 

    • Janet Jackson brought national (U.S.) attention to The Running Man move​ with her track Rhythm Nation in 1989.

    • Artists like MC Hammer, Janet Jackson, Milli Vanilli, Bobby Brown would all do the move during their live performances all around the world. 

  • Honorable mentions: T-Step and Moonwalk.


  • Dubstep arguably has one of the most multi-genre and complicated birthing stories in EDM history

    • ​It is the child of combining Two-Step Garage with Jamaican reggae-dub. This is the core sound.

    • Then, elements of Jungle (jungle Drum & Bass) and Grime (a UK combination of dancehall, UK Garage, British hip-hop) are layered on top.

  • If it weren't for both Jamaican dance culture and music production techniques, there would be no Dubstep. ​

  • Jamaican Dub is the "Dub" in "Dubstep" ​

    • Dub is not only a sub-genre of Jamaican reggae. It is the process of making instrumental mixes or remixes of tracks by stripping the vocals and focusing on the drums and bass of a track. ​

      • This stripped version of a track is sometimes referred to as the "riddim"...

    • This was never done before people such as Byron Lee, King Tubby, and Lee "Scratch" Perry started doing it to reggae tracks in the late 1960s - early 70s in Kingston, Jamaica. 

    • These "dubs" of popular reggae tracks were done to give DJs and MCs more freedom when performing as well as to maximize the bass of large speakers at Jamaican Sound Systems

      • ​A Sound System is a group of DJs, sound engineers, and MCs that would often load up a truck with a generator, turntables, and massive speakers to throw open-air, street parties. 

    • You can hear the first building blocks for dubstep in King Tubby's 1976 classic song -  Augustus Pablo - King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown. Listen to the beat.

    • You can hear the use of delay, similar to dubstep songs, in Lee Perry's song - Rubba, Rubba, Words

  • Jamaican immigrants brought Sound System culture/parties, reggae-dub, and the process of dub to the UK. Particularly, London.

  • Jamaican techniques and vibe get adopted by Jungle Drum & Bass producers who apply it technically and conceptually to UK Garage

    • This forms Two-Step Garage - a type of music that creates a lurching sensation (and sets the stage for the rhythm and headbanging of future dubstep)

    • Example Two-Step Song - Artful Dodger ft. Craig David: Re-Rewind

  • ​In 2000 - 2002, people then started making Two-Step darker, more instrumental, and more focused on bass. This is the basis for Dubstep.

    •  People such as El B and Oris Jay are considered "Proto-Dubstep" artists as they are the transition artists between Two-Step Garage and Dubstep

    • Listen to Ghost - 2000 by El B

  • Proto-Dubstep tracks from 2002 inspired black teenagers Benga, Coki, and Mala to create what is considered the original dubstep tracks. ​

    • The other pioneers include Skream and Loefah​​

    • Listen to Mala - Changes

    • Skream released one of the most well-known Dubstep tracks of all time - Midnight Request Line

    • Benga released the classic - Night

    • Digital Mystikz (Mala and Coki) stuck closely to reggae-dub roots.

      • For instance, they remixed Weh Dem a Do. You can hear the reggae-dub Sound System vibe and the remix in a boiler room set done by Mala (29:40 - 31)

  • You then have black dubstep DJ Kromestar start to pave the way towards more modern-sounding Dubstep with his song Kalawanji.

  • After that, Skrillex and 12th Planet made Dubstep even bigger by evolving the sound

  • Believe it or not, this is the shortest directional summary we could do for Dubstep. Tune in to the episode to hear the amazing stories. 


  • 2012 was a pivotal moment for Trap when Major Lazar dropped Original Don

  • A young Flosstradamus duo heard the Southern Hip Hop and Original Don tracks and decided to apply it to electronic music by remixing Original Don

  • All in all, Trap music wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Black artists from the southern part of the US in the 1980s catching on to the hip hop movement. 


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Samir: Showing Up for Racial Justice



Samir: Molokai Soundcloud // Instagram // AERO (track)

Alec: Mr. Virgo // Soundcloud // Instagram // Let Me Be Your Fantasy


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