Wonky (genre)

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Wonky (also known as purple sound, aquacrunk, or lazer hip hop[1][2]) is a subgenre of electronic music known primarily for its off-kilter or “unstable” beats, as well as its eclectic blend of genres including hip hop, electro-funk, chiptune, jazz fusion, glitch, and crunk.[2][3] It initially emerged in 2008 from the UK's dubstep and grime scenes, exchanging their austere sound for a typically colorful or exuberant style featuring garish synthesizer tones, melodies, and effects.[1] Other influences included American hip hop producers J Dilla and Madlib. Artists associated with the style include Rustie, Joker, Hudson Mohawke, Zomby, and Flying Lotus.[2][3]

Regional characteristics[edit]

The "wet and unstable" sound of wonky is often achieved by producing unquantized beats and mid-range basses using pitch bending, mid-range synths, LFOs on lowpassing and highpassing, phasing, and delaying.

Though wonky music is united by the tendency to use unstable mid-range synths, every wonky music scene has its own specific traits in sound; the American wonky "street bass" scene is influenced by broken beat and jazz music and the music itself has an organic feeling,[4] while the Glasgow aquacrunk and Bristol purple sound scenes are influenced by the sound of crunk, chiptune, electro and instrumental grime/dubstep,[4] respectively.[citation needed]

Rustie performing in 2012.

Aquacrunk was pioneered by Glasgow artist Rustie, and features slowed down, low-slung beats influenced by Southern hip-hop with electronic mutterings and morphing basslines..[5] It is influenced as much by early Rephlex and Underground Resistance releases by crunk artists like Lil Jon or Young Buck.[5]

Purple sound emerged in Bristol in late 2008 out of the splintering dubstep scene and took inspiration from wonky, which it is sometimes considered a part of, it incorporates synth funk from the 1980s and G-funk production from the ’90s into dubstep, while also introducing many aspects of grime and chiptune (several prominent purple sound artists cite video game music as a large influence).[6] Purple sound usually includes synths as a main component and avoids the bass 'wobble' and 2-step common in dubstep; the majority of purple sound tracks are instrumental.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Thomas de Chroustchoff, Gwyn. "The Dummy guide to purple". Dummy Mag. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Martin Clark (2008-04-30). "Grime / Dubstep". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  3. ^ a b Reynolds, Simon (2011). Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to Its Own Past. Farrah, Straus & Giroux. p. 76.
  4. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-10-21. Retrieved 2008-11-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Lanre Bakare. "Scene and heard: Get ready for aquacrunk | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-07-18.
  6. ^ "Maintenance Mode". The Stool Pigeon. Archived from the original on 2016-03-24. Retrieved 2016-07-18.