Rusko @ Marquee Theatre
Hate him or love him for it, there is no question that UK-born producer Christopher Mercer (a.k.a. Rusko) helped change popular notions of dubstep, making the genre ubiquitous in American dance clubs. In 2009, American tastemaking indie EDM label Mad Decent started pushing Rusko's UK bass stateside. By that time, American DJs like 12th Planet had been producing their own native brand of dubstep for some time. However, none of the Americans to that point had received the exposure that a Mad Decent endorsement brings. After teaming up with Mad Decent and spending considerable time this side of the Atlantic, he changed his music's format, making it more playful and increasing his bass intensity — evident on hits like "Woo Boost." He began to eschew the drum 'n' bass origins and focus on harder, more relentless bass lines and drops. Then he made popular what hadn't really been done before in Europe: He added poppy female vocal samples to tracks like "Hold On." After moving to Los Angeles, he remixed 2Pac's "Going Back to Cali." Now what Americans would associate with dubstep was no longer the consistently dark, gritty half-brother of drum 'n' bass but a slower, heavier format open to pop remixes. The new style — dubbed "bro-step" by detractors due to its wide appeal with nontraditional EDM crowds — found widespread appeal and primed popular youth culture for the tidal wave of dubstep producers and hits to follow. — Chris Piel
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