“Dubstep is a sort of great nephew to reggae,” Diplo writes in the liner notes to his new genre compilation, but that characterization misplaces just how singular, and pure-blooded, dubstep is. The myriad artists tagged with the name don’t just share common ancestry. They share a single sound: a fuzzed-out, wobbling bass blurt that its best practitioners manipulate devastatingly.
Still, Diplo’s concern isn’t with dubstep’s genealogy, but its future. The 16 tracks here, which date all the way back to the halcyon days of 2008, find the aesthetic stitched into a variety of clubby pop textures. Jessica Mauboy dials up a Rihanna-esque anthem, while Little Jinder punches with Daft Punk aplomb. Diplo even calls in Lil Jon for the freaky “U Don’t Like Me.” Live dubstep can lack subtlety, aiming mostly to freak its audience the fuck out. So cheers to Diplo for curating toward long-playing comfort, with steady builds and plenty of respite between bowel-loosening bangers. And while genre purists might argue with the amount of Diplo on display, give credit where it’s due: This disc spins easier in headphones and home stereos than most proper dubstep releases. It’s the friendliest primer imaginable for this often-intimidating genre.