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Cutting It: A Dubplate Special | RA

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Dubplate culture is still thriving—if you know where to look. In our latest film, we visit a South London community keeping a dance music tradition alive. In 2019, the vinyl versus digital debate, once a seemingly permanent fixture of dance music, has largely fallen by the wayside. Digital DJing is the status quo. Vinyl DJing is unusual enough that even top-tier clubs and festivals can’t always be bothered to have working Technics. Nonetheless, in some corners of contemporary clubland, a small but dedicated crowd clings onto a particularly rarified part of vinyl culture: dubplates. Born in the era of Jamaican soundclashes and enduring through that movement’s UK club mutations—jungle, garage, dubstep—dubplates embody a bygone era of DJing, when certain sought after tracks would exist only on a handful of records, sometimes in the months before a wider release, sometimes forever. The result is that, for all but the few DJs who had copies, they were impossible to hear anywhere other than the parties where they were played. In Cutting It, we take a fresh look at dubplates, and see how a small number of artists, promoters and DIY vinyl cutters have given them a new lease of life.

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