Review Summary: Dubstep, while potentially not looking for it, may have just found its very first crossover record
Dubstep, up until only about a year or so ago, has always strived to maintain its underground aesthetic, thriving on the street life and word of mouth hype than radio play and over promotion. For a genre characterized by distorted and wobbling bass that hum and reverberate in your head for days on end, its easy to see why the general public, always insistent on something a touch conventional when it comes to their love of “dance” music, would dismiss it as being anything more than a passing phase. And like any current new trend or flavour of the month, there's always the required messiahs needed to lavish praise on, discuss in smoke filled clubs awash in pulsing strobes, and to reminisce about on those long forgotten Sunday mornings. And dubstep carries more heavyweights than you can count off; names like Benga, Distance, Kode9, Skream, Mt Eden, Burial & Caspa all roll off the tongue with ease, and a certain measure of glee. One more name to add to the list of current champions of the moment is Rusko a.k.a. Christopher Mercer; an unassuming lad born out of Leeds, Rusko has taken the route of every current hot topic artist and set about making a name for himself while still not releasing a long player. And while dubplate's are the current choice of poison for all its followers, its still astounding just how much credibility one man can produce with only a small scattering of tracks that he can claim as his. But then again, if you're like me and remember just how exciting 'Cockney Thug' was when Mercer dropped it, the storm and buzz that that one song generated you'll understand. Then factor in his collaboration with Caspa on Fabriclive 37
, and how dimension altering that was, and the hype becomes not just justified, but astronomical.
Not a great deal has changed in the scene since Christopher arrived with his ear shattering SNES Dub
back in '06; aside from a more universal acceptance of the genre dubstep has flowed as it always has, and yet somehow Rusko has decided that with his long awaited debut LP that everything needs to be taken by the scruff of the collar and shook up just a tad. Its an ambitious idea given that its his first proper outing, but with O.M.G.!
dubstep has potentially just found its very first crossover album.
Refusing to rely on the tried and true, yet far from fresh conventions of a genre that Rusko has called home for more than 4 years, O.M.G.!
plays out more like a schizophrenic dj's attempts at allowing all his different personas and loves to shine through. Ducking and diving through an oh so delectable disco beat, jungle, earth shaking reggae, funk, house, and even hip hop, Mercer has taken everything and more and meshed it together to provide us with one of the most intriguing and likeable electronic releases in recent years. The love for such conflicting styles and sounds is all over this album, and the end result is nothing short of being just damn fun
. Rusko has taken the good times vibe and pulled a home runner on this one; tracks like 'Feels So Real', and 'Hold On' rely more on pop and vocal hooks to get the job done, as opposed to the more rudimentary trick that Rusko has up his sleeve, that of the wobbling bass. 'Rubadub Shakedown' eliminates the step all together, instead coming out triumphant with its exciting and funky dancehall flavors.
The always signature dubstep beat is still apparent throughout the album, but it takes on strange and sometimes surprising twists and turns. Taking a note out of Skream's book, 'Kumon Kumon' rides the jungle style, throwing in a giant dollop of laser effects guaranteed to excite the masses. But possibly the biggest surprise to be had is the appearance of one Gucci Mane on banger 'Got Da Groove'. Giving credit where its due, Gucci pulls off a surprisingly solid performance, working off a stronger and more enticing beat than anything he's used to playing with. Rusko uses him to full capacity, arming Gucci like another instrument in his ever growing arsenal of sonic weaponry, and while it might not be the best thing he's ever done, its still a track well worthy of attention and another feather to be added to Rusko's cap.
will annoy the purists to no end, there's no doubt about that. Moving away from his signature style Rusko has in effect succeeded in turning the genre on its head, and yet all he's really done is taken the undeniable sound of dubstep and spread it around a little. Crossing over and tapping into a huge wave of different syles, Mercer has crafted an undeniably catchy and energy riddled album that, when played loud, will still shake the cobbles and lure you in more than it legally should. Mercer has started a movement here, and while it remains to be seen just how much influence this album will have, O.M.G.!
stands as a snapshot of a new look dubstep that isn't afraid to let its hair down.