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The Year of Rusko: Why the Dubstep Godfather is Revered Amongst Fans & Producers

Chris Mercer, aka Rusko, has a sticky and swaggering permanence in the sound he pioneered over a decade ago.

The British producer played a pivotal role in transforming underground garage and two-step basslines of the mid-2000’s. Today, it is the smokey, raffish wobbles heard everywhere.

Along with Caspa, Rusko outlined the future of dubstep with the landmark Fabriclive 37 mix CD, which snuck its way into U.S. record stores in late 2007. Songs like “Cockney Thug,” Caspa’s “Louder” and Coki’s “Spongebob” are considered classics.

It’s remarkable that Fabriclive.37 was mixed live in one take. You clearly hear the gritty anxiety of records being shuffled onto the deck from one banger to the next.

This mix was the release that inspired a new wave of producers including Doctor P, Dodge and Fuski, Zeds Dead and Flux Pavillion; all of whom are associated with early 2010’s releases on UKF Music.

Rusko Today

Fast-forward ten years and the electronic landscape is a much different place. Rusko is now revered as a brash low-end godfather. Last May, Rusko was diagnosed with gastric lymphoma, a treatable type of stomach cancer that forced him to cancel his remaining 2017 tour dates.

After a brutal bout of sickness, chemotherapy, and a worrying wave of silence on social media, Rusko announced he was finally cancer-free in October. News that overjoyed not only the dubstep community but all of dance music.

This past January, Rusko burst back into the scene with the release of a new single titled “Look Out,” featuring his trademark upbeat, chaotic funk. The new single came before a seminal performance at San Francisco’s Wobbleland in February, where he was greeted with an overwhelming crowd response.

Shot out of a cannon, he followed that release with a cheeky five-song EP in April, appropriately named Rusko Has Made Five More Songs. If Mercer opened the floodgates for new sounds a decade ago, then this EP played like a schooling on how far the sound has come. The EP features devastating new-school riddim on “Hot,” beautiful soaring vocals on “High,” and even some classic rapid-fire U.K. grime on “Walalengleng.”

Listen to Rusko Has Made Five More Songs below:

The dubstep flag-bearer witnessed firsthand the impact he made on electronic music.

From bringing an innovative sonic swagger overseas, to inspiring today’s landscape of bombastic producers, many of whom said they wouldn’t be playing music without him.

Bassnectar recently stunned audiences at his Freestyle Sessions event with a fitting tribute to Rusko’s return to the game, playing his remix of standout gem “High” for tens of thousands.

For a producer who recorded his early tracks in a freezing apartment in Leeds a decade ago, Rusko’s earned his monumental respect in the scene he helped foster.

Featured image via artist Facebook page.

  1. Deborah Beck

    Awesome! Review!

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