Kode9's relationship with dubstep has always been an uneasy one, but with this latest DJ-Kicks installment, his avoidance of the genre is as much a political statement as it is an issue of taste. Only three tracks in the mix even somewhat resemble the one-drop cliché the genre has settled into: Ikonika's "Heston," Digital Mystikz's "Mountain Dread March," and The Bug's "Run"—and even those seem like brilliantly fringe elements compared to the cartoonish wobble most often heard in the trenches.
People often throw around the term "bass music" to describe all the cross-sections between UK funky, bashment, grime, and whatever other London-centric styles are currently in play, and that seems like a decent starting place for where this mix ends up going. The first half in particular, which listlessly runs through the clattering bongos of Aardvark's "Revo," touches on some of Kode9's own productions ("Blood Orange" sounds especially good in this mix), and then somewhat precariously ends with the rainy-day R&B of Rozzi Daime's "Dirty Illusions."
The second half is more predictable, and perhaps a better example of what bass music actually sounds like on the dancefloor. In particular, Addison Groove's "Footcrab" and Ramadanman's "Work Them" explore a sort of double-time torrent of kick drums and vocal samples that works especially well in juxtaposition to the seemingly slower stuff. Finally, The Bug and Flowdan's murdered-out "Run" closes out the mix; it's total anthem material and case in point as to why dubstep's best moments have never really been "dubstep" to begin with.