Kode 9 ft Spaceape “Fukkaz”. It was an inauspicious arrival of one of potentially the most important dubstep tunes of recent years.
“Fukkaz,” to give it some background, is the third incarnation of Kode 9’s earliest experiments with the flavour of dubstep he himself named, “sinodub.”
“Sindub” is a blanket term for all Asian and Far Eastern flavours in dubstep. “Sino-” is the prefix for Chinese, and “Fukkaz” is made from samples sourced from Indian music, but given 90% of dubstep is flavour “dark,” please excuse the socio-regional imprecision.
I first heard Kode talking about sinodub in 2003. I was news editor at Deuce magazine (RIP). Grime was exploding and for me and Chantelle, it felt like no one was listening (though in hindsight, we now know the blogging crew were repping their endz too).
Chantelle seemed to be minister for mix CDs moretimes. The first time I heard Wonder’s proto-halfstep “What,” was on the DumpValve mix she hooked up. But it was another mix she arranged that was to remain seared in my brain, even if it still doesn't 100% make sense. It was the NASTY Crew showcase, produced by Jammer, before he was forced out.
Around this time, Jammer and Wiley were exploding with new production ideas, one of which was the use of Asian and Chinese instrumentation. And yes Kode, also a Deuce mag contributor, called it “Sinogrime.” That NASTY Crew CD still sticks in my mind. It’s weird. The beats are simple, the melodies twisted and quirky – I’m still not sure I even like it. But I know it was original.
Around these times, Kode came with “Subkontinent,” which subsequently appeared on Rephlex’ Grime 2 compilation. Rhythmically structured like the dubstep of it’s era, notably Horsepower, “Subkontinent” was a beautiful tune, all sitar licks and swung beats, but essentially similar to sinodub of the time, like Horsepower v Goldspot’s “Sholay.”
I can’t recall how later it was, but one day I first heard “Subkon” on Rinse. A shortened name heralded a remix, and a step forward. This tune – now more grime riddim than dubstep track - was subsequently to be vocaled as “Fukkaz.”
There’s many great things about “Fukkaz.” The stop-start tabla percussion. Spaceape’s angry lyrics, so unswervingly true they could punch through steel.
“All them people who ignore blatant facts in order to maintain order beneficial only to themselves
All them fuckin’ people who smile inna your face, only because they wan’ see who deya behind you
All them people who claim to dem-have your best intentions inna dem ‘eart but continually fail when push come to shove
All those people who claim-say charity begin at home/Look ‘pon the state of your home!”
But whether it was Kode’s answer to “Sholay” or Jammer’s Far Eastern experiments, there’s something else essential about “Fukkaz.” It’s an idea that might not shake 3rd Base to its very foundations, but it’s utterly compelling.
It’s the melodies and the unique and inaccessible space they occupy.
Some themes are in key, some major and some minor – like Kode’s own “Kingstown.” Some riffs don’t have a key at all, it would seem. And beyond keys there’s atonality and dissonance - sonic anarchy. And that’s not to mention non-Western scales, Pentatonic et al.
But “Fukkaz’s” riffs are something all together different. Occupying the space between minor keys and atonality, theirs is a bitter sweet pleasure, a shimmering mirage of melodic wonder, just beyond the grasp of most sonic traveller.
Kode’s gone there again since of course. Check his “Fat Larry Skank Remix”, debuted on Dubstep Warz, as the first sitar drops an octave then leaps out of from the restraints of cadence. See also his “Kingstown VIP,” a kind of microhouse remix of the thunderous original.
But why is this melodic idea important to dubstep?
Every scene establishes it’s sonic trademarks. Drum & bass has its Amen breaks and Reece stabs, deep house it’s tedious Rhodes pads and Bhangra those sugar sweet riffs. To establish it’s own character, dubstep needs its own identifiers. It has space, it has bass: perhaps twisted melodics have a place.