“Filtered voices weave in and out, arpeggios con/diverge and that bass is ever present. It’s a full on, maximal production, ticking every box it aimed to tick.”
Sometimes a release comes along that forces you to reconsider your preconceptions, to throw out your well-thumbed copy of Critical Theory For Dummies and dive headfirst into a bass bin. Cypress Hill x Rusko just might be one of those releases. This is some real shit. Most people will be familiar with Cypress Hill from their stint in the limelight in the 90s, but Rusko might need some introducing. Alongside Caspa, the English producer pioneered the move towards upbeat bass music, taking the bass weight and half-stepped beats of the emergent dubstep underground and pairing it with fizzsy, basilar membrane-tingling synths and ridiculous drops. It’s the template for what bros on campus are now calling dubstep and it’s fitting that one of the men that started it should be here reaping the rewards.
Cypress Hill x Rusko is bro-step at its most base. For four out of five songs it sandwiches itself between Skrillex-style bass buzzing and the Waka Floka Flame school of rap. ‘Lez Go‘ starts out in a shimmer before dropping into the standard half-step beat while Cypress Hill spit drug-related nonsense over the top. “On codeine, senses are keen, close to the edge because I’m extreme”. It goes on like that. Filtered voices weave in and out, arpeggios con/diverge and that bass is ever present. It’s a full on, maximal production, ticking every box it aimed to tick.
‘Shots Go Off‘ pulls off the clever production trick of using sampled gun noises to form part of the beat. It also has the best wobble-bass here. Track number four, ‘Medicated‘, concludes this section of the EP. It pushes things up a few BPM, hits the mid-range a little harder, altogether a fine example of pure bone-head energy. The rapping is comical and you get the sense that Rusko is holding himself back, trying desperately to fit the unimaginative flows into his beats. Dubstep (or any form of dance music really) has never benefited from being forced into a verse/chorus/verse structure and this is painfully obvious here.
The above might be enjoyable or laughable and it certainly shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It is a lot of fun. The last track, ‘Can’t Keep Me Down‘, downright weird. Damian Marley gets in on the action, providing a suitably reggae voice for the choruses. The verses are horrible clashes of style, with the flow of lyrics not lining up with the dub swell at all well. It’s a strange nod to the original dub influences, a misguided and lightweight thrust at authenticity.