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World Music CD Reviews Reggae & Caribbean

Benga

By Malachai Phelps
Published July 18, 2008

Diary Of An Afro Warrior
Tempa

Although the U.K.-based genre known as “dubstep” has its links to the garage and house music scenes in London, really it owes a lot more to original dub—that is, Jamaican dub reggae—as well as Detroit techno and late ’90s New York jungle (with the latter being a reaction itself to the British drumn-bass craze). With all this cross-breeding, the downside is that you can end up with a lot of aborted experiments, but 21-year-old DJ and producer Beni “Benga” Uthman has made a definitive statement with this much-anticipated follow-up to his 2006 self-released debut Newstep. Incorporating elements of regal jazz (“B4 The Dual”), psychedelic dancehall (“Crunked Up”) and even ambient chillout (“Loose Synths”) into a bass-heavy, synthesizer- driven and artfully drum-programmed sonic tapestry, Benga comes with the absolute goods— particularly on the spacey, soul-cooking single “Night,” co-produced with fellow dubstepper Coki. If you’re looking for an eminently accessible and listenable angle of entry into this much-misunderstood electronic dance style, this is the disc to get.