Dubstep and Dancehall Done Dirty
There’s the chance that on first hearing London Zoo, the album that blew him up big in 2008, absent any credits or marketing info, the strong guest raps from Warrior Queen might have made it seem like The Bug was a female act. Apologies to the real Bug, Kevin Martin, but his new Filthy EP has the same problem: his production has a chameleon-like quality so submissive as to have no payoff.
The Bug originals have been scant since London Zoo: two on the Infected EP in 2010, and four more on Filthy. Here, two pairs of songs are each anchored by a noisy, aggressive excursion into bass music. Sadly, all suggest that whatever progress Martin wanted to make through dubstep five years ago seems lost in dancehall reggae banalities now.
The front pair are full of staccato drums and fake horns, so Danny Brown can go all Meek Mill-meets-ODB on “Freakshow” and Flow Dan can get all anti-business on “Dirty.” The latter pair use a low, steady instrumental march with deliberate turntable scratches and metallic echoes. “Kill Them” is a violent boast of musical skill and “Louder” borders on an arena anthem—both marginally better, yes, but equally unimportant.
Martin has other acclaimed outlets, among them King Midas Sound and the Macro Dub Infection series, so you wonder how much attention he’s paying to this one. He—and we—may want The Bug to shine as a versatile hard dubstep veteran, yet his instrumentals in this guise feel like they yield to the vocals atop them instead of the other way around. If you’re content to take on someone else’s flavor, you’re not making music, you’re making tofu.