"Can't wait til Drake discovers bassline you know..."
This tweet came from one, DJ Shandy, in response to the rap star's recent sampling of Crazy Cousinz and Kyla's UK funky classic, "Do You Mind". All jokes aside though, maybe that wouldn't be such a terrible idea. In the space of 24 hours, Aubrey Graham's "One Dance" spun the internet into a frenzy, with globally-read platforms trying their best to describe this "post-millennial, future club music", not knowing the sampled song came out in 2008 and was part of a short-lived scene that had some life in it yet.
And so a similar story goes for bassline, the womp-womp, analog synth-loaded speed garage spin-off that was given wings in the North of England, in the early 2000s, by the likes of Jamie Duggan, Nev Wright and Shaun Banger Scott. Whilst grime was taking baby steps in East London, bassline—also known as bassline house, 4x4, Niche (named after the venue)—was finding its bearings in cities like Sheffield, Huddersfield and Leeds, and later Manchester, Birmingham and the rest of the Midlands.
Having moved from London to Northampton in my teen years, I was exposed to the genre a lot earlier than most Londoners—debaucherous weekends at Niche, the scene's leading nightclub, became the norm for me and the crew. What almost looked like old wrestling cages greeted you at the door of the Sheffield nightspot as buzzing ravers cut crazy shapes to a sound that—much like grime—you had to experience in real life. But again, much like grime, the ~culture~ of bassline didn't come without its hiccups—gang and police warfare, club closures, and politics between DJs and emcees (the former not wanting the latter to touch mic on sets) contributed much to the falling of this once-healthy scene, leaving the fans in limbo and giving the music-makers no other option but to move on.
Until today, other than DJ Q (whose above mix you're now bubbling down to), no one has spoken out as to why the bassline scene folded like it did. Some blame it on the police. Some blame it on the "dodgy crowd" that brought the police. Some blame the MCs for "making the scene like grime", while, like myself, most of us are still completely baffled. "Heartbroken", T2's 2007 No. 2 hit, is still revered and has almost become a national treasure—and with The Bassline Festival holding regular events in Manchester now, really, the big question is: after an attempt in 2014, could a real bassline revival be on the cards this time? The producers speak out.