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UK garage (also known as UKG) is a genre of electronic music originating from England in the early 1990s. UK garage is a descendant of house music which originated in Chicago, Detroit, New Jersey and New York. The genre usually features a distinctive syncopated 4/4 percussive rhythm with ‘shuffling’ hi-hats and beat-skipping kick drums. Garage tracks also commonly feature ‘chopped up’ and time-shifted or pitch-shifted vocal samples complementing the underlying rhythmic structure. UK garage was largely subsumed into other styles of music and production in the mid-2000s, including dubstep, bassline and grime. The decline of UK garage during the mid-2000s saw the birth of UK funky, which is closely related.
The evolution of house music in the UK in the mid-1990s led to the term, as previously coined by the Paradise Garage DJs, being applied to a new form of music also known as speed garage. Its originator is widely recognised to be Todd Edwards, the American house and garage producer, also known as Todd “The God” Edwards. In the early nineties he began to start remixing more soulful house records and incorporating more time-shifts and vocal samples than normal house records, whilst still living in the US. However it was not until DJ EZ, the North London DJ, acquired one of Todd’s tracks and played it at a faster tempo in a night club in Greenwich, that the music genre really took off.
With many pirate radio stations filling up the FM airwaves, the soaring popularity of UK garage saw 1999 take the genre into the mainstream, breaking into the music charts. Production duos Shanks & Bigfoot and Artful Dodger were very successful with the tracks “Sweet Like Chocolate” and “Re-Rewind“, respectively. After the platinum-selling success of “Sweet Like Chocolate”, the floodgates had opened.
One popular mutation of UK garage is dubstep, originally a dark take on the 2-step garage sound. According to Kode9, the bass used takes influence from Jamaican music such as reggae. It is now the sound of underground bass music in many UK towns and cities. Dubstep originated from garage producers such as Wookie, Zed Bias, Shy Cookie, El-B and Artwork (Arthur Smith of DND), who inspired a new generation of producers such as Skream, Benga, Kode9 and Digital Mystikz to create what is now known as dubstep.
A current scene of people offshooting from dubstep, taking it back to its UK garage roots and fusing it with futuristic and often very off kilter modern production styles and more, is often called future garage. The term was coined by Sub FM boss Whistla, and proves to be very controversial with a lot of producers given the tag. Some notable innovators include Whistla, Submerse, Sully, Littlefoot, Erra, Kingthing as well as established artists from other areas such as Duncan Powell, Falty DL, and Monz.