Dubstep is dead. Long live Borgore
Israel's Asaf Borger is the rapscallion of the ball
Dubstep has reached its post-moment. Where once there was a bustling and mysterious underground there now appear liquor commercials and Grammy nods. The onetime cutting edge now barely qualifies as the middle of the road. It's hyperdriven cultural evolution for our times — the sudden omnipresence of the once-elusive, the death of the cool. Yet somehow dubstep adapts. Intransigent though EDM may be it is also swift-moving and cavernous in scope, and it remains that to know dubstep you gotta know dubstep. The amorphous subgenre trends ever upward due in large part to a constant barrage of innovators and rabble-rousers, feisty Diplo-approved producers whose sole goal is to keep one another on their toes. Call it friendly competition — or don't. "There's two kinds of people that are getting into dubstep right now," explains Asaf Borger, or Borgore, the brash Israeli DJ best known for his callous songwriting and furious, genre-bending mixes. "The people that really love the music, and the musicians that like the money."
The statement reverberates with irony. Borger has long been a fly in dubstep's ointment, the bellowing drunk at its cocktail party. (Borger operates a label and "viral store" called Buygore, where the Borgore Ruined Dubstep T-shirt is a fan favorite.) A veteran of the Israeli death metal scene, interested in the dark side of music, Borger recalls that he initially found himself in search of something often elusive in metal: the underlying groove. With dubstep, he says, "it was 140 BPM, and it was heavy the whole time. It was exactly what I was looking for, to just bang my head for three or four hours and go home happy."
The music Borger began to create was a manic collage of club-happy beats and filthy, rumbling bass lines, often adorned with some of the raunchiest and most nonsensical lyrics you ever heard. It would be no stretch to term Borger an avid vulgarian (dubstep's Tyler, the Creator?). An actual lyric from the snap-happy "Nympho": "This bitch is so used I wouldn't sell her at the second hand store / 'Cause her pussy is so wide that you could put your head inside / Bring ten of your friends and have yourself a ride." (Unfurrow that brow: Borger's words are no more repugnant than anything from "Wait (The Whisper Song).")
It's a sign of dubstep's constant motion that Borger's stark, violent rhythms and confrontational, non sequitur-laced lyricism are descended almost entirely from hip-hop, specifically the Lex Luger-ish breed of skull-smashing melodrama not exclusive, but certainly familiar, to Atlanta. Borger indeed professes a love of all things A-related and is particularly enthusiastic about Waka Flocka Flame, with whom he seems to feel a particularly close artistic bond. "Atlanta was always a big, big influence for me," he gushes. "I still try to always know what's going on in Atlanta, because I feel like that's the mecca of hip-hop — at least for me, this is the type of hip-hop that I like."
But he certainly doesn't fancy himself an austere MC.
"I'm not the best rapper," Borger says. "It's just fun. I'll sing about fun things rather than being all serious and gangsta rap or whatever. A lot of rappers are singing about gangsta things, but they've never been in a gangsta situation in their life. None of them knows how to fucking use a gun. So there's no point for me to sing about being in the hood. I've never been in the hood."
The line between homage and satire is razor sharp and paper-thin; don't expect the rap community to embrace Borgore anytime soon. Still, the role of shit-stirring outsider is one Borger knows well. "Right now most dubstep is quite heavy. But four years ago it was more on the reggae tip, more mellow. Then people like Datsik, Flux Pavilion and myself got into the genre and got a lot of hate ... . People were saying I ruined dubstep. So I was like, you know what, I fucking ruined it, fuck off."
His flippant attitude undercuts the blood and sweat Borger puts into his work. New mixes come a mile a minute and a foray into legitimate "trap music" is forthcoming, a tune Borger insists is all Dirty South swagger. "I'll play it in Atlanta," he promises. "I hope people won't murder me, 'cause it's proper. It sounds like Atlanta, but with my lyrics. It's a white boy rapping over Atlanta. I don't know if they'll get it, but we'll see." And if they don't, there's a T-shirt for that.