It’s no mystery that the world of drum and bass initially grew popular in London. But it’s the more recent and still mostly underground subculture born from that experimental electronic genre “broken beat,” from West London, that’s now catching our attention.
“West is the best,” broken beat artist Danny Wheeler aka DJ WheelUP tells BTRtoday.
Wheeler first started his journey towards broken beat as a drum and bass artist, but felt something still missing in his sound. “I decided I wanted to go with my heart, so I just changed direction a bit and created WheelUP,” he says. “It’s like a hidden gem of music—it’s underground, but it’s always been a genre with a huge potential.”
WheelUP recently released a new EP named after the small village in Zimbabwe that his father is from, Wanezi, on Tru Thoughts Records. The four-track EP features infectiously danceable beats that provide melodies worthy of chart-topping status, but still conveys an underground music feel.
WheelUP also worked with an American rapper, Alabama-based Brint Story, on the intro track “Stay For Long.” The two smoothly fused hip-hop and broken beat, with Story incorporating timely rap lyrics about surviving in Trump’s America.
WheelUP, “Stay For Long” ft. Brint Story
“Broken beat, this sort of afro house or whatever you wanna call it, hasn’t really been crossed with hip-hop before too much, so I thought it would be quite cool,” WheelUP says. “Plus, I was thinking recently, there’s the option to accept a harsh Trump dystopia, but I don’t accept it and I think people aren’t going to accept it—I think we’re going to create a good future, [because] when something’s bad, something good happens afterwards.”
This optimistic view is something WheelUP wants to maintain both with his music and general outlook on life. “Be kind, be happy, enjoy music, and love each other,” he says is the main ethos of his music. “I believe in the human spirit and I believe we’ll get through tough times—when times get hard that’s when you get the best creativity.”
WheelUP was slated for a DJ residency this month, but due to the pandemic those plans were put on hold. He plans to stay music-focused and fully intends to release a debut full-length early next year. In the meantime, listen to the entire interview with DJ WheelUp and his new EP Wanezi on this week’s episode of The Music Meetup.