London Zoo


As Kevin Martin’s ear for noisy dub and heavy dancehall found further promise in the grime and dubstep movements that emerged in 2000s post-garage quarters, he just kept adding more weapons to an already bunker-busting arsenal until hitting an explosive epiphany with 2008’s London Zoo. This is an album that starts with old-school UK dancehall vet Tippa Irie rampaging about “so many tings that get me angry” and brings in an all-star assemblage of singers, toasters, MCs, and poets to elaborate powerfully on that mindset with wide-ranging rage: Warrior Queen providing rousing alarm-call defiance (“Insane”; “Poison Dart”), Flowdan providing breathlessly intense yet rhythmically locked-in Rasta righteousness (“Skeng”; “Jah War”; “Warning”), and The Spaceape snarling and scoffing at casual social cruelty with hard-earned contempt (“Fuckaz”). Martin’s subwoofer-assault production can bludgeon the unwary, but he still leaves the kind of negative-space dynamics which reveal that slippery snares and waist-winding bass are what truly drive his million-fathoms-deep riddims.

Nate Patrin

Under the name The Bug, British producer and beatmaker Kevin Richard Martin creates some of the darkest, grimmest, and frankly harshest post-dub and avant-dancehall music out there. On London Zoo he brings in such A-list chatters as Flowdan, Tippa irie, and Warrior Queen, providing all of them with powerful and sometimes claustrophobic rhythms. Where classical dub tends to define huge and motly open sonic spaces, The Bug’s music is complex and crowded almost to the point of being overwhelming.

Rick Anderson