Leaving aside the collaboration between Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber to honour the Queen’s diamond jubilee celebrations, Rusko & Cypress Hill had the potential to provide the most frighteningly dreadful duet of 2012 – a complete shot-in-the-dark from two acts that usually sit on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Rusko’s typical audience of student partygoers probably aren’t overly familiar with the sounds of Rap legends Cypress Hill, while those who dig the sounds of the West Coast hip-hop group are not stereotypically adoring of dubstep, which sounds more mechanical chunder than lyrical thunder.
That said, good news comes in the shape of this EP not actually being all that bad – both acts seem intent on proving a point with this release and Rusko himself told us that he wanted to create this record in order to “…show people in Middle America what dubstep really is.”
The EP gets off to an expectedly rousing start with “Lez Go”, where both Cypress and Rusko set the tone for the rest of the listen – supercharged dub-hop. Describing themselves as a “party machine like Charlie Sheen…”, Cypress are quick to realise that this is a project to get the clubs bouncing.
And truth be told, that’s exactly what we wanted. Rusko doesn’t possess the melodic mastery of other dance producers, as shown with the fairly pedestrian “Songs” (released earlier this year), while Cypress were never expect to paint the conscious lyrical imagery more akin to a group like The Roots. The two have stuck to what they’re good at and here, for five tracks atleast, it works.
The prospect of further work between the two in a full-blown LP doesn’t quite whet the appetite – one or two tracks on the EP can begin to sound laborious and the lyrical content doesn’t dig much deeper than the practice of rolling weed and getting high (“Roll it, Light it” being a particular offender).
But this EP deserves credit for showing that hip-hop and dubstep can function together and on occasion, sound pretty damn good – “Can’t Keep Me Down” featuring Damian Marley is as good as almost any rap track this year, encompassing everything that’s good about the energy of dubstep, the potency of hip-hop and the understated brilliance of Marley himself.
If you were expecting a car-crash 20 minutes of music when this collaboration was announced, you’ll be content when discovering that sonic roadkill wasn’t the end result. Let’s just hope that idiots like Skrillex and Wiz Khalifa don’t choose to buck up and follow suit – no doubt undoing all the good work that Rusko and Cypress have done here.