On Thursday morning, dubstep MC/poet Stephen Samuel Gordon, known to most as The Spaceape, passed away after a five-year struggle with a rare form of cancer called Neurolymphomatosis.

Gordon’s condition was revealed to the public two years ago in the press release for his solo Xorcism EP, but the news is no less devastating. The Spaceape always seemed to deny the inevitability of his disease, continuing to write music up until his Killing Season EP with Kode9 (released last Monday), and it feels all the more tragic that the world should be deprived of his voice now, when he appeared so revitalized.

Dating back to their first release on Kode9’s Hyperdub label in 2004, Sine of the Dub, The Spaceape and Kode9 have been a revered combination in UK dubstep since its inception. Indeed, their work would be hugely influential in shaping the landscape of the genre in the following decade, with Gordon also appearing on tracks by artists such as Burial, Martyn, and The Bug.

Specifically, The Spaceape became known for a patois-inflected brand of emceeing that was as dark and mesmerizing as the voodoo culture that he often referenced. Addressing themes of mysticism and spirituality against Kode9’s nebulous dub-scapes, his music sounds at first like some end-time prophecy, but looks beyond the doom and gloom – telling “stories from the next dimension” with trenchant poetic finesse.

Our thoughts to Gordon’s wife and daughter, as well as his friends at Hyperdub.

Article by Jay Kwok

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