Tricky and the Bug: Dub, Punk, and the Abject

In considering the music of two dub-influenced artists based in the United Kingdom, Tricky (Adrian Thaws) and the Bug (Kevin Martin), I explore the ways dub and punk share historical space and affective territory, and particularly the ways a punk ethos has continued to be imbricated into dub and its descendants. I argue that their shared territory is heavily masculinized, and I am interested in the uses of violence in the artists’ works, as a mediating force in the case of the Bug, and as an ambivalent site for Tricky. I focus on Tricky’s posture of abjection, as he uses his concept of “brownpunk” to evoke alternative punk sensibilities, to refer to forms of degradation and social rejection that range from the petty criminal to the sexual nonconformist. Abjection comes through the Bug’s music as the alienated subjects that can survive apocalypse. These evocations open up “punk” as a concept defined by, and useful to, those excluded by more proscriptive uses of the term.

Jayna Brown