For someone who has only been in the game a few short years, Rusko (AKA Chris Mercer) has managed to land himself an impressive spot on the cutting edge of the quickly evolving dubstep scene. Mercer has done a remarkable job honing his countless associations to allow his music widespread appeal. Remixes of artists like renowned turntablist A-Trak, party rapper Kid Sister, British glitch-hoppers Audio Bullies, and tech-house hotshot Claude VonStroke show depth in taste, and take dubstep beyond its limited base of UK garage, grime, and drum 'n' bass followers. The net was cast even further when the likes of Diplo, Drop the Lime, and Buraka Som Sistema all personally expanded on Rusko's unique production work with their own remixes of his material.
Rusko's style has everything to do with growing up in Leeds, where the eminent Iration Steppas studio and accompanying SubDub club night have drawn on the tradition of massive sound from Jamaica, and set the bar for bass music throughout Europe. Mercer took direction from these low-end experts early in his career, a move that lent his production a highly sophisticated sound. He's also been influenced a great deal by fellow London-based dub-stepper, Caspa. The two have collaborated on production, toured together extensively, and were chosen to co-produce a mix for London's prestigious Fabric club/label, the first dubstep mix in the history of the trendsetting DJ series.
That they were selected for this mix probably had something to do with Rusko's instant anthem, "Cockney Thug," which, when played by all three of the headliners at a recent Fabric drum 'n' bass night, resulted in the crowd going completely insane. The irresistible combination of monstrous rolling bass, breaky high end, and a ridiculously enticing British gangster vocal sample ("Fuck!") make it impossible to hear this song and not get some bounce on.
Dubstep has blown up bigger and faster than just about any other recent genre of music, with elements fast finding their way into all other styles of electronic music. That said, Rusko's fresh production ideas and ability to collaborate with a variety of unexpected artists places him square on the frontline of the bass revolution. Not bad for a cockney thug.