Dub•step \ dub-step \ n + breaks \brãks \ v
Brostep is slang used to mock the metallic low-end crunch and razor-sharp digi-bite of dubstep when taken to extremes—and the fact that it generally causes dudes, i.e. frat types, to fist-pump uncontrollably. It’s a musical movement derided by the EDM elite.
In the most general terms, U.K. bass producer Rusko is usually lumped into the category. This has always seemed unfair to me, and even more so upon hearing Songs. Coming from London, and producing this music well before dubstep steamrolled into the rave mania that it currently is, Rusko’s full of versatility.
You can hear it in the jazzy keys and RnB vocals of 2-step throwback “Pressure,” which shares nothing with dubstep’s typical aggressiveness. Songs also seems to favor the genre’s mellower namesake, dub, working it into the wobble of “Skanker” or letting it take over entirely with the tropical “Love No More.”
This is not to say there aren’t moments that’ll tempt fans to thrust their hands skyward. Drumstep (that’s dubstep with drum ’n’ bass) crowd-pleaser “Somebody to Love” displays Rusko’s keen ability to combine the adrenaline shot of bass music with pop warmth, and do so successfully. Whereas “Dirty Sexy” smacks of pop-dance pandering, complete with a Rihanna impersonator.
Rusko recovers from his appeal to the lowest common denominator, first with the U.K. garage-dancehall insta-party of “Whistle Crew” and then letting us down softly with the soothing Ibiza chill-out sunniness of “M357.” It’s an utter left turn and the album’s most beautiful moment.
Moving to L.A. back in 2009 to bring dubstep to the U.S. masses, Rusko still seems unsure of the best way to do this. Or maybe his frenetic personality won’t let him settle for one particular sound. Either way, it means lows and highs, but the highs provide some potent dance-floor fodder—even if it might be at a keg party.
—Joshua P. Ferguson