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|Stylistic origins||Deep house, garage house, R&B, hip house, oldschool jungle, electro|
|Cultural origins||Early to mid-1990s, England|
|Typical instruments||Synthesizer, drum machine, sequencer - keyboard, sampler|
|Speed garage - 2-step garage - Breakstep - Future garage|
|Dubstep - Bassline - Grime - UK funky|
UK garage (also known as UKG) is a genre of electronic dance 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.
In the late nineties, the term 'UK Garage' was settled upon by the scene. This style is now frequently combined with other forms of music like soul, rap, reggae and R&B, all broadly filed under the description urban music. The pronunciation of UK garage uses British English /ˈɡærɨdʒ/ GARR-ij, rather than American English /ɡəˈrɑːʒ/ gə-RAHZH.
Artists such as Grant Nelson, M.J. Cole, Artful Dodger, Jaimeson, So Solid Crew, Heartless Crew, The Streets, Shanks & Bigfoot, DJ Luck and MC Neat, Sunship (Ceri Evans), Oxide and Neutrino and numerous others have made garage music mainstream in the UK, whilst Dizzee Rascal, Kano and Wiley's arrival raised the profile of grime, an offshoot of garage.
Cole once stated, "London is a multicultural city... it's like a melting pot of young people, and that's reflected in the music of UK garage".
"'Garage' is considered a mangled term in dance music. The term derives from the Paradise Garage itself, but it has meant so many different things to so many different people that unless you're talking about a specific time and place, it is virtually meaningless. Part of the reason for this confusion (aside from various journalistic misunderstandings and industry misappropriations) is that the range of music played at the garage was so broad. The music we now call 'garage' has evolved from only a small part of the club's wildly eclectic soundtrack." -- Frank Broughton/Bill Brewster in Last Night A DJ Saved My Life
In the UK, where jungle was very popular at the time, garage was played in a second room at jungle events. DJs started to speed up garage tracks to make them more suitable for the jungle audience in the UK. The media started to call this tempo-altered type of garage music "speed garage", 4x4 and 2-step's predecessor. DJs would usually play dub versions (arrangements without vocals) of garage tracks, because pitch-shifting vocals could sometimes render the music unrecognizable (although sped up and time stretched vocals were an important part of the early jungle sound, and later played a key role in speed garage). The absence of vocals left space in the music for MCs, who started rhyming to the records. Since then MCs have become one of the vital aspects of speed and UK garage parties and records. Early promoters of speed garage included the Dreem Teem and Tuff Jam, and pirate radio stations such as London Underground, Ice FM, Magic FM, Mac FM, Upfront FM, and Freek FM. During its initial phase, the speed garage scene was also known as "the Sunday Scene", as initially speed garage promoters could only hire venues on Sunday evenings (venue owners preferred to save Friday and Saturday nights for more popular musical styles). Labels whose outputs would become synonymous with the emerging speed garage sound included Confetti, Public Demand, 500 Rekords, Spread Love and VIP. Debate continues to rage over the first true speed garage record; contenders include "I Refuse (Industry Standard mix)" by Somore, "Love Bug" by Ramsey and Fen, "RIP Groove" by Double-99 featuring Top Cat, and Armand Van Helden's remix of Tori Amos's "Professional Widow". Speed garage tracks were characterised by a sped-up house-style beat, complemented by the rolling snares and reverse-warped basslines that were popular with the drum & bass producers of the time. Speed garage already incorporated many aspects of today's UK garage sound like sub-bass lines, ragga vocals, spin backs and reversed drums. What changed over time, until the so-called 2-step sound emerged, was the addition of further funky elements like R&B vocals, more shuffled beats and a different drum pattern. The most radical change from speed garage to 2-step was the removal of the 2nd and 4th bass kick from each bar (see "Characteristics" for more details). Although tracks with only two kick drum beats to a bar are perceived as being slower than the traditional four-to-the-floor beat, the listener's interest is maintained by the introduction of syncopating bass lines and the percussive use of other instruments such as pads and strings.
Among those credited with honing the speed garage sound, Todd Edwards is often cited as a seminal influence on the UK garage sound. The producer from New Jersey introduced a new way of working with vocals. Instead of having full verses and choruses, he picked out vocal phrases and played them like an instrument, using sampling technology. Often, individual syllables were reversed or pitch-shifted. This type of vocal treatment is still a key characteristic of the UK garage style.
The UK's counterpart to Todd Edwards was MJ Cole, a classically trained oboe and piano player, who had a string of chart and underground hits in the late 1990s and early 2000s, most notably with "Sincere" and "Crazy Love". MJ Cole has also won a BBC "Young Musician of the Year" award.
Arguably one of the earliest examples of a 2-step track is the 1997 chart hit "Never Gonna Let You Go" by Tina Moore. Jess Jackson was responsible for many garage records but one which stood out was "Hobson's Choice". The B-side of this record changed the UK garage scene from funky and soulful to dark and bassy.
Another example of the evolution in 2-step was the release of "Troublesome" in 1999 by Shy Cookie and DJ Luck, in which non-sampled 2-step beats were merged with a full ragga vocal (performed by ragga artist Troublesome).
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. Although "Re-Rewind" was denied a #1 position by Cliff Richard and his song "The Millennium Prayer", it was also a platinum seller, one of the garage scene's first and last. They became anthems for the 2-step scene, and got onto BBC's Top of the Pops. Other huge hits in 1999 include the #1 house/garage anthem "You Don't Know Me" by Armand Van Helden. Although not UK garage, Mr. Oizo's #1 single "Flat Beat" received extensive airplay on pirate radio stations upon release, thus leading to numerous UK garage/2-step remixes of the track. Luck & Neat also had a chart hit with "A Little Bit of Luck" in late 1999 into early 2000. Many more UK garage acts followed into the new millennium by releasing commercially successful singles, thus making UK garage and 2-step a stable fixture on the UK charts for the next couple of years. Debut singles of various UK garage artists were hitting the number one spot on the UK charts. Craig David's debut solo single "Fill Me In", a mix of R&B and 2-step, with single formats containing various garage remixes of the track, hit #1 in April 2000. A month later, Oxide & Neutrino's "Bound 4 Da Reload (Casualty)" reached the top of the charts. 2001 gave DJ Pied Piper and the Masters of Ceremonies their one and only number one hit record with "Do You Really Like It?". Two months later in August 2001, South London collective So Solid Crew hit the top spot with their second single "21 Seconds". The end of 2001 saw yet another 2-step anthem reach the top of the UK charts for Daniel Bedingfield, with his debut single "Gotta Get Thru This".
2-step's deprecation 
2002 saw an evolution into two main directions: the first being that, 2-step was moving away from its funky and soul-oriented sound into a darker direction called "grime" (now a genre in its own right - generally no longer considered or classified as UK garage but retaining BPMs which usually range from 138-143 beats per minute, a common element in modern garage). During this period, traditional UK garage was pushed back underground amongst the bad publicity emanating from the tougher side of the genre, and publicised violence surrounding members of the So Solid Crew, although in August 2004, a number one 2-step hit did appear on the charts for 3 of a Kind, with their single "Baby Cakes".
Notable early grime artists around 2001–2003 include Pay As You Go Kartel, More Fire Crew, Dizzee Rascal's debut album Boy in da Corner, Roll Deep's mixtapes Volume 1 and 2 which were never released commercially, and Wiley.
Revival of 2-step 
In 2007, DJs such as DJ Charma, DJ Elski, MistaPlum and Matt Farley have been involved in the promoting and revival of UK garage's popularity, with producers like Delinquent, Ayklogic, Control-S, Wideboys, DJ Ade, Marvel, Solution, Duncan Powell and Danny Dubz producing fresh new UK garage, also known as "new skool" UK garage.
So called "old skool" UK garage producers MJ Cole, Sunship, Wideboys, and Greg Stainer to name a few, have produced new UK garage to give the scene a huge push, which also provides a nostalgic link to the "old skool" UK garage scene.
The end of 2007 saw "new skool" UK garage push to the mainstream again with notable tracks like Delinquent's "My Destiny", T2's "Heartbroken", and Wideboys' "Snowflake" reaching the mainstream charts. This was topped by DJ EZ releasing Pure Garage Rewind: Back to the Old Skool, which contained three CD's of "old skool" UK garage and a fourth CD with fresh "new skool" UK garage.
The end of 2007 and beginning of 2008 has seen the rising popularity of an off-shoot of UK garage, called bassline. Artists like DJ Q, Riplash and Sus, DJ BDM & Ender MC, MC Bones, Northern Line Records, Brett Maverick, T2, and Delinquent have been producing fresh new bassline, and currently the UK garage scene contains a significant number of bassline producers, who are strongly promoting and pushing this subgenre of UK garage.
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 was originated by 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.
Some UK garage/grime/bassline/dubstep producers are leaning towards a different sound called UK funky, often misnamed Funky house, a term for commercial house music. UK funky takes production values from many different shades of soulful house music with elements of UK garage and blends them, at a standard house music tempo, and soca with tribal style percussion from afrobeat. There are many different takes on UK funky, including producers such as Apple, Champion, Lil Silva, Roska and Scratcha DVA, who have a harder, more syncopated sound, and other producers aiming for a more commercial, R&B friendly audience, such as Crazy Cousinz.
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.
Early 2011 saw the start of a gradual resurgence of 2-step garage. A song called "Out Of Control" featuring Kcat and Donae'o received airplay on KISS Radio and BBC Radio 1Xtra. There has also been a gradual increase in demand for UK garage remixes of chart songs. Producers such as Wookie, MJ Cole, Zed Bias, and Mark Hill (formerly one half of Artful Dodger) have made a return to the scene, by producing tracks with more of a 2-step feel.
UK garage is now at full force with a thriving underground scene. Artists such as Joy Orbison, George Fitzgerald, Disclosure, Pearson Sound and Addison Groove have redefined the genre taking production skills to the next level. Record labels such as Hotflush, Doldrums, Clek Clek Boom, Night Slugs, Swamp81 and Fade to Mind put out releases very frequently from the prominent UKG producers.
See also