Downtempo (sometimes used synonymously with "trip hop") is a genre of electronic music similar to ambient music, but with a greater emphasis on beats and a less "earthy" sound than trip hop.
History[edit | edit source]
The 1990s brought on a wave of slower paced music which was played throughout chillout rooms—the relaxation sections of the clubs or dedicated sections at electronic music events. Downtempo music started to surface around Ibiza, when DJs and promoters would bring down the vibe with slower rhythm and gentler electronic music upon approaching sunrise. In the late 1980s, trip hop emerged from Bristol, which combined elements of hip hop beats, drum and bass breaks, and ambient atmospheres at a lower tempo. At the end of the 1990s a more melodic instrumental electronica incorporating acoustic sounds with electronic styles emerged under its own umbrella name of downtempo.
In the late 1990s, the Austrian duo Kruder & Dorfmeister popularized the style with their downtempo remixes of pop, hip-hop, and drum and bass tracks with influences of the '70s soul jazz. Britons Steve Cobby and Dave McSherry, producing under the name Fila Brazillia, released a handful of downtempo, electronica and ambient techno albums that propelled the style further. Meanwhile, the Washington, D.C. locals Eric Hilton and Rob Garza, better known as Thievery Corporation, have introduced the Brazilian sound into the style after discussing the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and enriched it further by combining elements of Jamaican dub and reggae.
In 2010, "downtempo pop" was described by The Atlantic as a variety of music styles from the 2000s characterized by mellow beats, vintage synthesizers, and lo-fi melodies. In other words, an umbrella term that includes chillwave, glo-fi, and hypnagogic pop. Later in the decade, another form of downtempo music, tagged as "lo-fi hip hop" or "chillhop", became popular among YouTube music streamers.