July 2, 2010
Perez Hilton doesn’t spend much time on the dubstep beat, but in mid-May, the Queen of All Media blogged about Rusko’s contributions to the forthcoming Britney Spears album. Britney was the obvious link bait, but as word of the collaboration spread, it created Rorschach-like responses about the producer’s role– whether he was a blatant sell-out or a genre ambassador to the masses– and fed into anxiety/happiness over the scene’s increasing popularity. The recent L.A. transplant had already remixed or produced for Kid Sister, M.I.A., and Basement Jaxx. Working with the former pop princess seemed to test his recent exhortation that dubstep is “the punk rock of the electronic-music world.” But the spiky-haired Brit would probably be the first to say ditch pretension and politics, get hyped, and just jump in the pit and have fun.
From the start of O.M.G.!— which opens with a celebratory “woo!” that punctuates redlining, wall-of-bass lead single “Woo Boost”– Rusko dives in headfirst, rolling forward on distended low end while occasionally stepping into new territory. He bounces between the laid-back digital dub of “Rubadub Shakedown” and “District Line”, more uptempo and ravey territory on “Kumon Kumon”, and the Gucci Mane collaboration “Got Da Groove”, a successful fusion of strutting beats and a bulbous bass line. As for that Britney collab, he could do a lot worse than “Hold On”, a decent though stretched-out two-step rhythm that shines light on the versatility of Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman.
But over the course of the entire album, O.M.G.! doesn’t live up to its breathless title, coming off more as a disjointed dance survey course than anything game-changing. Sheer massiveness can be visceral, and Rusko has certainly pushed that idea forward with singles like “Cockney Thug”. But he can also slip into hyperactive and cartoonish territory (parts of “I Love You” sound like a very slowed-down version of the chattering aliens from “Sesame Street”). And fusing blown-out bass lines with stock parts from other genres– the trancey build-ups of “You’re on My Mind Baby” and “I Love You” or cheesy club-lite of “Feels So Real”– doesn’t add up to much. Rusko still puts together some moving, visceral moments, but here, they seem fleeting, good ideas in search of a vision.