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Lost Dubs: grime and dubstep's 15 best unreleased classics

Dubstep and grime were both genres raised live on pirate radio, with some tracks spending their entire life cycle on the airwaves.

Whether it’s a nixed alternate mix, a VIP variation of a track only shared to a small circle of DJs, or simply a cut that was never deemed worthy of release, both genres have a rich history of songs that never made it to wax – many of which are eulogised by fans as a result. Often, artists end up giving them away (see Geeneus and Ms Dynamite’s ‘Get Low’ and the tracks featured on Skream’s Freeizm sets) or collecting them as retrospectives; other times, they remain lost dubs. With Digital Mystikz finally releasing ‘2 Much Chat’ last week, we ranked 15 of our favourite lost dubs from grime and dubstep. Mala, Wiley, Spooky, Loefah and James Blake all feature – and yes, we know #8 isn’t strictly dubstep.

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15. GREENA
‘Pattern Recognition’

Listen here (39 mins)

Greena released two 12″s in a few years and disappeared without ever completing his Night Slugs EP. Last spotted with an appearance on one of Slackk’s 2013 mixes; presumed too busy with real life shit to ever release ‘Pattern Recognition’. Our loss.

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14. DJ ODDZ
‘Blade Runner’ 

Oddz released a handful of grime classics – ‘Strung Up’, ‘Champion’ – before finding God and ditching music, but the string-led ‘Blade Runner’ remains on the shelf (though it’s pretty easy to find as a decent quality mp3).

Choice Youtube Comment:
Grizza Leng: @jopymoon well i was half right, no need to be like a girl lol ‘errrr no’

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AddisonGroove100712

13. HEADHUNTER
‘Mint 500’

Listen here (26:30)

Not included on his Nomad album nor accompanying EPs, this gem from Headhunter’s late pre-Addison Groove days remains lost to the sands of time.

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12. LOEFAH
‘Woman’

DMZ / Swamp81 founder Loefah has more lost dubs than most: as anyone who’s followed either of his labels will tell you, he very much makes – and releases – music in his own time. For all the talk of weight and dread that surrounds Loefah’s music, his tracks are often subtly nimble, and despite not containing much more than shaker, bass and atmospheric samples, once ‘Woman’ gets going it definitely skips rather than steps.

Choice YouTube comment:
DJgnarley: Mothers and Daughters joined as one…wtf is that

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11. ZOMBY
‘Blueberry Cheese’

Zomby’s managed to fall out with half of the dubstep scene in his time – and he’ll no doubt take offence at being included this close to any mention of the d-word – but he did enjoy a close relationship with Dusk & Blackdown’s Rinse FM show, which became a great source of pre-Dedication Zomby material. The gloomy, loopy ‘Blueberry Cheese’ is one of his best from this period.

Choice YouTube comment:
SaladDot4: shut up u albino batty boy ill stab your dead great grandmas eye with a zoot. lol what the fuck is cannatalk you lowlife stoner

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10. BURIAL
‘Feral Witchchild’

Is it from underwater of out of space? Who knows, but those drums man, those drums.

Choice Youtube Comment:
Scott Harris: removed my headphones by nodding

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dj-spooky-10.26.2011

09. SPOOKY
‘Snowforest’

Listen here (20 mins)

This slot would have gone to Spooky’s ‘Coolie Joyride’, but now that’s out it’s time to step from the cool into the cold. God knows if ‘Snowforest’ will ever see release – Spooky lost a hard-drive full of material a year or so ago – but it remains a standout moment from an artist who still churns out tracks daily.

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08. BLAWAN
‘Hollow It Out’

Rattle! Best sampled on Pangaea’s FACT mix, ‘Hollow It Out’ captures Blawan just before he went 100% TECHNORAMPAGE – we’re guessing this was due on the R&S double-pack that never came.

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07. LOEFAH
‘Midnight’

Womp.

Womp.

Womp.

Womp.

More ominous than a thousand Wales at your office door, ‘Midnight’ is Loefah’s ultimate lost dub and for good reason. In fact, depending on you believe, even he doesn’t have a copy anymore.

Choice Youtube comment:
tiberium ben: A shit upload wiv sum geeza on the mic, fek fek sake :)(:

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06. WILEY
‘Mystic Forest’

Like the soundtrack to a Secret of Mana snow world flipped on an 8-bar with wobble bass, ‘Mystic Forest’ might not be Wiley’s greatest tribute to colder climes – there’s pretty stiff competition – but it’s the godfather of grime’s great lost classic. Still totally addictive, after all these years.

Choice Youtube Comment:
PerryJWilliams: AAAAAaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No one can test Wiley

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05. MALA
‘Tombstone’

An absolute neck-snapper from the man with the most lost dubs in dubstep, ‘Tombstone’s the brother that ‘Left Leg Out’ never quite had but we still really, really could do with. Also – what a perfect title.

Choice Youtube Comment:
Antonin Schneider: This is fucking good this is another world a real dubstep!!!

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04. VEX’D
‘Third Choice’ (Loefah’s Unreleased Remix)

One of Loefah’s most ominous ever tracks extended for added oomph. As with ‘Midnight’, the story behind this version of the remix – which contains a second drop not included on the Planet Mu release – differs depends on who you ask, or, indeed, which dubstepforum thread you look at.

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03. JAMES BLAKE
‘Libra’

To call James Blake’s music varied would be an understatement, but even two albums deep into the big man’s career, there’s nothing in his release catalogue – or, indeed, anybody else’s – that quite sounds like ‘Libra’. The drums are like sticks beating on wood, barely in time, while that gated synth might be a Blake trademark, but it’s rarely sounded this heartbreaking.

Choice Youtube Comment:
kevindigo67: Is it just me or does it sound like the guy is saying bring ice cream, to me

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02. BURIAL
‘True Love VIP’

Sure, Rival Dealer was a curveball, but listen to ‘True Love VIP’ and try to tell us that Burial never wanted to shoot for the stars? There’s no ’80s tom rolls or anything as overt as the climax of ‘Hiders’, but under that pillowcased baseline and coughed-up drums, this is a grand pop song with a grand pop chorus. Just listen to Blackdown melt at 2:05 above.

Choice Youtube Comment:
Cory James: @mjb301086 It’s just that to understand burial is like understanding a new language. it is, however a universal language that we all know how to speak and understand, but most are still blocked from it by fear, hate and greed. once you transcend the fables of the modern world you will understand where this music comes from and where it is aiming for us to go. How’s that for pretentious! haha.

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01. MALA
‘Livin Different VIP’

To have anyone else top this list would be a minor crime – Mala’s practically made a second career from getting dubstep fans in tizzies over his unreleased material, and his VIPs are usually his most sought after. As great as the original ‘Livin’ Different’, from Return II Space, is, the VIP version is something else. It’s elegiac, it’s triumphant, and it feels like an out of body experience listened to on a YouTube clip, let alone two pills deep at a rave. Holy grail.

Choice YouTube Comment: 
Diego Pérez: mala is my spiritual lider

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