Along with early DJ sparring partner Caspa, the Leeds-born Rusko is synonymous with the more thuggish end of the dubstep template. His brand of the stuff is metallic, muscle and bass-driven dance music with crunch. The best example of Rusko's sonic science thus far is 2008's "Cockney Thug," a track as cartoonish and over the top as his ridiculous mane of hair. Since then, the DJ and producer's standing has oscillated between that of hero and villain. Critics have blamed him for spawning a glut of producers content to substitute volume for ideas.
If O.M.G.! is a signpost for dubstep's future, however, imitators will need to strive for a fresh hybrid of sounds. While his signature ear-hemorrhaging bass still leaves its wobbly footprint over the record like a bovver boot, O.M.G.! succeeds in cooking up a wild, if somewhat disparate, patchwork of styles.
The album is at its most interesting when Rusko looks outside the wobble that colours album opener (and single) "Woo-Boost" and Redlight collaboration "Scareware." Both tunes are massive amounts of fun, but sound like a producer working well within his comfort zone rather than looking to push the envelope. Elsewhere, the record shows just how much Rusko's musical palette has evolved over the past two years. "Hold On," which features the vocals of Amber Coffman from indie faves Dirty Projectors, is the sound of UK garage and funky dancing together in the sunshine. "Rubadub Shakedown" doffs its cap to the sound system culture of Leeds, while "Kumon Kumon"'s piano riff draws inspiration from '90s rave. Perhaps most surprising is Rusko's use of the talk box, which adds extra layers of funk to the likes of "You're On My Mind Baby" and "My Mouth," and the hip-hop Gucci Mane collaboration "Got Da Groove."
Despite Rusko's ambition, O.M.G.! has neither the cohesive glue nor the mad creativity of something like, say, Diplo and Switch's Major Lazer album which helped raise the bar for club music after its emergence last year. Having said that, the likes of "Hold On" and "Got Da Groove" prove that Rusko is a versatile producer capable of a deftness of musical touch. Turns out dubstep's number one thug is capable of more than just pummelling the listener in to submission. O.M.G.