Review: Rusko - O.M.G.

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Released by Mad Decent

For the past few years, Leeds, UK-bred producer Rusko has been causing ripples in the dubstep scene—moves that got him recruited by cult, club massive label Mad Decent. Linking up with Diplo and posse has proven more lucrative than just being able to put out his first full-length, O.M.G.; he’s also produced the majority of M.I.A.’s upcoming record. 

If that fact isn’t enough to convince the purists that Rusko is more than a dubstepper, then let them screwface O.M.G. You could call it dubstep for dabblers, but less pejoratively, this is a record for ragers and the radio—Rusko’s attempt at recruiting with expansive, melodic, electro-esque beats. And with the rise in popularity of club DJ/producers like the Mad Decent honcho and Euro-master David Guetta, this is totally possible. On O.M.G. Rusko flirts with a variety of sounds; from disco to retro-funk, jungle and house. Instead of dusty, mystic dubstep tradionalism—which (check his backcatalogue) Rusko is fully capable of creating—the 14 tracks on O.M.G. are brash and cocky, experimental and fun.

Rusko is confidently playful; from the acidic grind and zany effects on lead single “Woo Boost” to funky horn samples and retro synths on 56k-homage “Dial My Number.” He lifts consumer trends, going vocoder-crazy on “Raver’s Delight” and the tight rap-styled, Gucci Mane-featuring “Got Da Groove,” and mashes up Euro synths with jungle snares on “Kumon Kumon.”  And he even gets meta, experimenting with standard Hustle-line disco on sing-song-y “Feels So Real” and spacey Italo-disco on the warbly “You’re On My Mind.” These aren’t just indecipherable hangar bangers, Rusko knows how to sell his craftsmanship and ability to make each song distinct from the next.

O.M.G.’s true highlights are the guest spots, which hint at real collaboration. With Rusko’s metallic, wonky bassline as the sole unifier, contributor tracks allow each to do their thing whether that’s crescendo-filled anthems (on Crookers-featuring “Oy”) or MC Rod Azlan’s toast-tastic “Rubadub Shakedown.”  The best example—and one of the album’s standouts, if only for nostalgia’s sake—is “Hold On” with Amber Coffman of Brooklyn band The Dirty Projectors. Her syrupy, layered harmonies paired with two-step pacing and drum patterns play out like an updated UK garage track, belying Rusko’s formative influences.—Anupa Mistry

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