Genre Dictionary, 2000-09: From Crabcore To S—-gaze

As soon as a musical movement gets a name, someone is already declaring it dead. Sometimes you wonder about the people who coin the terms; whether they regret the mass categorization of a tight-knit group's creative output. It's almost baffling how quickly "hot new thing" status gets doled out, only to receive backlash, inspire an academic write-up in The New Yorker, experience backlash against the backlash, become loved ironically, and then wind up staunchly defended by those who've been there since the beginning. Because, you know, it's just rock 'n' roll, man.

In terms of mainstream impact, reggaeton crossed over in a major way, while screamo was the clear "new" rock genre of choice (yes, screamo has been around since the '90s; hear me out below), but, dare I say, the decade belonged to a few boroughs in London. An endlessly creative group of producers and MCs constantly looked forward at 140 beats per minute, rethinking electronic music and expanding the definition of street sound.

Below is a dictionary-style introduction to the 10 genres which were either born or blossomed in this decade. If we missed any, let us know in the comments.

Crabcore: Crabcore is defined more by its physical movement than its ironic metal-riff-filled screamo, often punctuated by the occasional techno breakdown. The band members crouch extraordinarily low like crabs, and sway from side to side in rhythm to their crushing failure. Sometimes the band simply runs in place. As a quickly pulled Wikipedia article succinctly put it, "No one understands this move. No one." Key artists: Attack! Attack!, This Romantic Tragedy, Remember Thy Name. See also: Crunkcore.

Example: Attack! Attack!, "Stick Stickley."

Crunkcore: Documented most heavily by the sometimes-NSFW Stuff You Will Hate, crunkcore is what happens when screamo kids with flat-iron haircuts get bored and make a trashy mix of techno, rap and pop. AutoTune is used almost exclusively when the vocalists don't scream. Key artists: Brokencyde, Dropping a Popped Locket, Millionaires. See also: Crabcore.

Example: Brokencyde, "Freaxxx" (language may not be suitable for all ages).

Dubstep: Hovering around 140 beats per minute, dubstep came out of London's garage scene in the early 2000s. It's marked by a shuffling rhythm called 2-step with a heavy emphasis on bass and sub-bass, which produces typically dark instrumental tracks better suited for head-bobbing than dancing. Key artists: Burial, Skream, Kode9. See also: Funky, Grime.

Example: Burial, "Ghost Hardware."

Funky: With roots in house music and affected by elements of broken beat, dub and African music, it almost goes without saying that funky (a.k.a. U.K. Funky) is obsessed with percussion. Summery synths and beats take the forefront, but unlike the genre's counterparts in grime and garage, very little snare is used. Key artists: Supa D, Karizma, Marcus NASTY. See also: Dubstep, Grime.

Example: Karizma, "Rock Away (Wave Them Off)."

Grime: Complex in rhythm yet fiercely minimal in construction, grime is based on the shuffling 2-step beat. Birthed in the inner boroughs of London, grime is distinctly un-American in its approach to hip-hop. Its influences come from all over — Jamaica, the Caribbean, U.K. garage, drum 'n' bass, maybe a little punk — to make authentic streetwise dance music made mostly by youths for youths. Key artists: Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Lady Sovereign, Run the Road compilation. See also: Dubstep, Funky.

Example: Dizzee Rascal, "Fix Up, Look Sharp."

Hyphy: To "get hyphy" means to "get stupid" or "go dumb." It's a lot like getting crunk, but without the drug reference. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, hyphy is West Coast rap's answer to crunk, and while it's still debated what really distinguishes the two, rapper Keak Da Sneak says it's more about the lifestyle: "You still can't get crunk off a hyphy beat, but you can get hyphy off a crunk beat." Key artists: E-40, Keak Da Sneak.

Example: E-40, "Tell Me When to Go."

New Weird America: Coined by David Keenan in the August 2003 issue of The Wire, New Weird America (sometimes called freak-folk or free-folk) pulls inspiration from 1960s and '70s psychedelic folk and rock bands like The Incredible String Band, Holy Modal Rounders and Comus. The modal-based druggy and communal good-times music allows a lot of room for improvisation, much like the free jazz, noise, drone and Indian classical music that tends to weave its way through. Key artists: MV & EE, Charalambides, Josephine Foster.

Example: MV & EE, "Drone Trailer."

Reggaeton: Started in Puerto Rico in the '90s, reggaeton is this decade's most surprising cross-over success, especially considering that much of it is performed in Spanish. Reggaeton takes reggae and dancehall and blends it with Latin American rhythms (bomba, plena, salsa, et al) and hip-hop. Like reggae's focus on the upbeat, the pan-Caribbean "dembow" riddim is the basis of reggaeton, a beat based on the drum machine's snare sound. Key artists: Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Calle 13.

Example: Daddy Yankee, "Gasolina."

Screamo: While screamo technically started in the '90s with bands like Jeromes Dream and Antioch Arrow screaming over chaotic emo songs, the genre radically changed in the '00s. Screamo abandoned its raw D.C. hardcore roots in favor of slicker metallic riffs and melodic vocals. The bands still scream, but with a style more akin to big-name guttural or high-pitched metal vocalists rather than the "first wave" of emotionally wrecked singers. Key artists: Underoath, Thursday, Thrice.

Example: Underoath, "Desperate Times Desperate Measures."

S—-gaze: Pushing treble knobs in the red and showing sheer disregard for recording quality, "s—-gaze" was coined by Pink Reason frontman Kevin De Broux. After listening to the first Psychedelic Horses—- record in Columbus, Ohio, De Broux said, "Man, this isn't shoegaze; it's s—-gaze." Largely documented by Siltbreeze Records, it's essentially become the new umbrella term for lo-fi, as it encompasses everything from noisy garage-pop to loner folk. Key artists: Times New Viking, Psychedelic Horses—-, TV Ghost.

Example: Times New Viking, "The End of All Things."

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