Some may say the beauty of dubstep lies in its moodiness and meditational vibe. This, perhaps, implies meditation cannot be achieved by raw, aggressive energy. But you’d be wrong to assume this implication is the case.
If there is a producer that embodies this raw and aggressive side of dubstep, it is Dean ‘Coki‘ Harris.
His style have always (in equal parts) baffled and delighted his fans. And being half of the Digital Mystikz, Coki shares a similar history to Mala (they’ve known each other since they were 10) and Loefah – a trio who have done more for this sound than many, many others.
The trio’s style, as we’ve discussed, is rooted in the melting pot of early 2000s London – jungle, garage and dub. Prior to forming as the Mystikz, Mala and Coki were known on the London circuit as Malibu and Coke – garage MCs who achieved some early fame across the UK…
But having spent time in the garage scene, the duo lost interest with the RnB-inspired tunes they were hosting and focussed on rawer, newer sounds. Their earliest releases on both Big Apple Music and their own DMZ (Chainba, Pathways etc) document the raw and uncut blueprint for what would eventually become know as dubstep.
Whereas most people think all DMZ productions were made by Mala and Coki together, they used Digital Mystikz to label a certain kind of music that to them felt like dubstep – even though to them the sound didn’t yet have a title (something they and Losfah seemed to prefer).
Many of the early Digital Mystikz tunes (dub and releases) show this synergy between the styles of Coki and Mala, but in later releases, it’s relative simple to discern who’s made what – for example, on DMZ002, Lost City is obviously produced by Coki and 10 Dread Commandments by Mala.
Most of the early Coki sounds show a dubby influence to Dean’s work, but it’s still much more twisted and moodier than Mala’s was. Moving forward from the early DMZ days, Coki’s music gradually evolved into a rawer, dirtier grime-esque style that’s heard in tunes like Earth A Run Red and Haunted (the B-side to the legendary Anti War Dub). Shortly after DMZ004, his debut solo release on the label, Coki’s Red Eye EP on Big Apple Music helped to emphasise the producer was giving dubstep a broader definition than many first anticipated it could have.
In 2007, as the sound started to gain crossover attention from the grime scene, Coki, Mala and Loefah flourished (as did many of their compatriots) under the DMZ brand. Their live shows were well loved, as the three represented the holy trinity of dubstep sounds: Mala with the deep meditative sounds, Loefah the raw depth and Coki brought the madness. This madness is illustrated by his masterpiece Goblin, which proves impossible to imitate to this day.
Another side of the Coki story lies in the vast amount of dubplates still circulating on YouTube or found in older sets of other DJs. Most of them have become known as ‘lost dubs‘, and will never see a release. Aside from his work with the DMZ imprint, Coki launched a white label label called AWD in 2011, a route he used to release some of his older dubs [that, incidentally, included samples from reggae artists Max Romeo and The Upsetters (Lucifer), Gyptian (Duppy Soursop) and Sizzla (Dry Cry)].
More recently, Coki started another label – Don’t Get It Twisted – as an opportunity to release some of his harder and less meditative tearout music. Like Mala has done with Deep Medi, DGIT seems to be a vehicle for releasing music from Coki himself and other artists.
Although some of the newer tunes Dean’s pushed suggest influences from further afield than what we’ve come to expect, the producer hasn’t strayed far from his roots (especially if the new dubs in DJ Chefal’s mix are anything to go by). Dubstep has had a fairly tumultuous time over the last few years, having outgrown its humble DMZ roots and going full-on global.
Coki – alongside Mala, Loefah and the other ‘founding fathers’ – may not have anticipated this mainstream ‘success’ all those years ago when laying the foundations of what would become such a huge phenomenon.
But with the mainstream losing interest, the sound going back underground and DMZ returning to south London (the 8th birthday still ranks as one of the best dubstep events in recent memory), it looks like Coki’s madness, Loefah’s depth and Mala’s meditative musik might be coming home.
Dubstep’s dead. Long live dubstep.
Click to DOWNLOAD (80MB)
- Coki – Jah Fire [DMZ, 2004]
- Coki – Mood Dub [DMZ, 2005]
- Coki – Warlord Riddim [Dancing Demons, 2009]
- Coki – The Sign [Big Apple Records, 2007]
- Movado – Gangsta 4 Life (Coki remix) [white label, 2007]
- Coki – All Of A Sudden [Deep Medi, 2007]
- Coki – Spongebob [DMZ, 2007]
- Coki – Burnin’ [white label, 2007]
- Coki – Bass [Ringo Records, 2007]
- Coki – Old Hope [DMZ, 2011]
- Coki – Bloodthirst [Sub Freq Recordings, 2008]
- Coki – Goblin [Ringo Records, 2009]
- Coki – Mad Head [Ringo Records, 2007]
- Coki – Tortured [Tempa, 2006]
- Coki – Red Eye [Big Apple Records, 2007]
- Coki – Square Off [Dancing Demons, 2009]
- Coki – Dry Cry [white label, 2012]
- Coki – Serious [DMZ, 2011]
- Coki – Bob’s Pillow [Don’t Get It Twisted, 2012]