The Not-So-Great ‘Rollers’ Debate
This article recently posted on UKF.com, seemingly draws a line in the sand and defiantly states that ‘rollers’ does not describe a specific subgenre of Drum & Bass. The tone is playfully confrontational, but the message is clear- ‘rollers’ is not a specific subgenre. Possibly due to the call-out nature of the article, rhetoric and side-splitting memes on both sides have exploded since it was published (although recently it seems like the majority who initially pushed the argument have already moved on).
The genre contention certainly isn’t unique to just Drum & Bass or even electronic music in general. To ANY music enthusiast, arguing about genres and subgenres can be a favorite pastime; “is this song more prog-rock or post punk”? “Is this more Disco or Funk or Soul”? Drum and Bass certainly has a glut of genres and subgenres, so the arguments can become intensely cutthroat and divisive. Many of us who have been around a while probably remember Ishkur’s Guide, which is still a fantastic intro to the sprawling world of electronic music genres. Without having to consult anything as sprawling as this guide, most well-versed Drum and Bass fans can point to what they interpret as ‘liquid’, ‘jungle’, or ‘jump-up’, but with producers like 1991, Camo & Krooked, and Alix Perez consistently pushing the envelope, the subgenre distinctions have become blurred and overlaps are a common source of confusion.
The term ‘roller’ when applied to Drum & Bass typically characterizes a song with a bouncing or constant and hypnotically repeating bassline, but with so much bleed and confusion between subgenres, there are some who interpret this description as being indicative of an entire genre. The discussions and arguments both on and offline have been building for some time now, even before the article was published, with “rollers is a genre” on one side and “all genres have rollers” on the other. We at Subduction Audio have even been split on the subject.
Personally, I’m of the mind that a ‘roller’ is an adjective describing a certain type of bassline, and that every subgenre of Drum and Bass can have songs that you can call a roller. The soil is fertile for debate though, so feel free to sound off below- I am genuinely curious where our audience weighs in on this.