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The Mid Year Report launched in 2016 with the intent of spotlighting 10 artists within the realm of music who share and represent the adventurous, independent spirit of NEST HQ. Similar to our end-of-year superlatives, the Mid Year Report recognizes those musicians who are outpacing their contemporaries due to fearless creativity and deliberate integrity, and this week, we’ll be discussing 10 artists who we believe are pushing their genre forward in 2018.

Read below for our Mid Year Report on Rusko.

Rusko is back, baby. With a name solidified in the dubstep game since 2006, Rusko has spent over a decade on a wholly unique adventure in both his career and personal life. His catalog dates back to humble beginnings with garage-inspired tracks like “Snes Dub” from 2006 and “Jahova” from 2007, reeling in the underground dubstep dwellers who proved to be lightyears ahead of the mainstream electronic community. But Rusko’s place in this list, which celebrates artists’ endeavors in 2018, is about how he faced the reality of a cancer diagnosis last year and turned it around with sheer bravery and a ferocious desire to keep his signature sound alive and kicking the way it has for nearly 10 years.

To begin, it’s necessary to map out his career from his very first hits. It seemed to all kick off for Rusko when he and longtime collaborator Caspa released FABRICLIVE 37: CASPA & RUSKO, their legendary mix album from 2007. “We thought it might get us a few more gigs, that’s it! Suddenly we’re in this studio with a list of interviews from every corner of the world,” Rusko told UKF. “We had to stop between calls to work out how to pronounce the station names because Gary (Caspa) kept getting them wrong. Fun fact: the station was one they’d used in Alan Partridge. That was cool as fuck. But yeah, we kinda started thinking ‘okay this is a bit mental…’”

The mix included Rusko’s original single “Cockney Thug,” the bold, cheeky dubstep tune heard all around the world thanks to FABRICLIVE 37 and praised for its celebration of everyone’s favorite F-word. It’s impossible not to mention the legendary remix from Caspa as well, who had worked with Rusko since the creation of the label Dub Police in 2006. One year after “Cockney Thug,” we were given another sensational hit: “Woo Boost.” Despite existing for almost a decade, it’s one of the most timeless tracks in the entire dubstep genre to this day — it’s 2018, and I kid you not, I heard it at EDC Las Vegas over five times on various stages. Rusko also brought us the beloved “Hold On” with Amber Coffman in 2010 which inspired the subsequent remix from Sub Focus, one that Rusko still plays in his sets to this day.

In the years that followed, Rusko put out a number of EPs, like his 2013 drum and bass-meets-dubstep record Lift Me Up via OWSLA, and a few collaborative works with Caspa. When his output slowed down in 2017, he broke the news of his cancer diagnosis. The original message was sent on Twitter, and he continued to communicate to fans about his treatment and the status of his health. The time off was brutal, yet necessary — but how he came back from it all is commendable as hell.

The beginning of his triumphant 2018 return to the scene was marked by his announcement that he is totally cancer-free as of last January. In tandem with the announcement, he dropped his first single since taking a break titled “Look Out!” Released on his 33rd birthday, fans were relieved to know his cancer was gone and delighted to hear that signature Rusko sound again. Now back to his craft, Rusko is celebrating life to its fullest extent. He returned to the stage in February for his performance at Wobbleland in San Francisco, throwing down his unforgettable classic tunes and some new heat — it was glorious, and I cherished every moment of it.

In just the past few months, Rusko has dropped multiple singles, like the gritty, in-your-face “Hot,” a remix of Marshmello & Selena Gomez’s single “Wolves,” and the epic Has Made 5 More Songs EP. This EP is the official celebration of Rusko’s major year, featuring a range of underground-inspired sounds and a production flair we’re always delighted to hear. Inspired by the trenches of dubstep, a little bit of dub, and his own contemporary quirks, this EP feels like an intimate, well-rounded collection created as a gift to his fans. On top of the many releases, he’s been touring nonstop. Needless to say, this is Rusko’s biggest year yet.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” I’d like to give both honorable titles to Rusko: he’s legendary in the electronic music world for the groundwork he laid in dubstep’s travel to the United States, but he’s also a hero for inspiring thousands of listeners around the world and continuing to push himself, even through life-threatening conditions. His fight didn’t go unnoticed, and it didn’t break his spirit, either — Rusko seems to be exactly where he wants to be. On top of it all, we’ve got some hot, brand new dubstep tracks to celebrate. Cheers to Rusko for making 2018 his victory lap!

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Words: Jordan Mafi