10 Caspa & Rusko Tunes That Deserved More Love 🖤

Words: Son Raw
Photography: Boxed Media

When looking back at dubstep’s first great explosion of talent, what stands out is the sheer variety of styles operating under the genre’s banner. From DMZ’s deep and dubby excursions to Joker’s neon grime, Skream and Benga’s big-room anthems to Hessle Audio’s measured dub-techno explorations, dubstep wasn’t just one sound—it was many. That didn’t make the scene one happy family however, particularly when it came to the type of wobbling tear-out tunes that eventually became a shorthand for ‘dubstep’, surplanting other styles in the average punter’s mind.

Through countless message board debates and chats outside of raves, true believers passionately debated this jump-up-indebted style, and no producers proved more divisive than Caspa & Rusko, the London and Leeds-based names then known for their work on Dub Police and Sub Soldiers. Cheeky, brash and unabashedly populist, it seemed like Caspa & Rusko made as many enemies as they did fans in the late aughts, with many heads dismissing their tunes as mindless party fodder for latecomers.

I disagree.

Yes, Caspa & Rusko made many a banger with electro-inflected basslines, but their production was, and still is, far more varied than their detractors gave them credit for. And unlike their followers, even their hardest tunes circa ‘07-11 felt connected to the soundsystem legacies of UKG, D&B, jungle and hardcore. With this in mind, here are 10 Caspa & Rusko tunes, from big-room smashes to unheralded remixes, that truly deserved more praise.


Rusko Acton Dread

One of Rusko’s earliest releases, “Acton Dread” foregrounds the producer’s Leeds influence, sounding like nothing less than a digital steppers dub parsed through a trance arpeggiator. Miles away from the chainsaw-ripping bangers he’s best known for, this early work sees Rusko operating in the same sub-heavy space as the producers he’d heard at Sub Dub events at the legendary West Indian Centre. Throw in a sample recorded live as the London tube arrived in Acton station, and you’ve got a tune with as much dubstep cred as anything else emerging in 2007, bridging the North and South.

Caspa “Cockney Violin

“Cockney Violin” is utterly ridiculous in the best way possible. Looping a massive Chinese folk sample, ready-made for big-budget martial arts epics, Caspa somehow transforms this unlikely source material into a heavyweight, peak-time banger. This wasn’t an entirely new concept—producers ranging from Loefah to Skream to Dusk & Blackdown had been exploring South Asian and East Asian sonics in their production, but their work treaded carefully, subtly weaving pentatonic tones into the beat. Not so for Caspa, whose courtly violin work lands with all the subtlety of a diving board cannonball at a pool party. Over the top? Yes, but also a hell of a lot of fun.

Rusko Cockney Thug (Caspa Remix)

Much like Guy Ritchie’s Snatch, whose Bricktop is sampled throughout “Cockney Thug”, Caspa and Rusko never meant to accurately depict road life through their art. Instead, tunes like “Cockney Thug” were cartoonish send-ups playing fast and loose with stereotypes and pop culture depictions of East End gangsters, gleefully lobbing F-Bomb’s set to extremely digital horn sounds. The remix has more muscle, but for my money, nothing beats the plastic, synthetic feel of the original.

TC Where’s My Money (Caspa Remix)

Around 2007, dubstep began to muscle its way in on drum & bass’ turf, briefly supplanting its older sibling as the student rave’s sound of choice. Despite a few bruised egos however, the genres mostly coexisted peacefully, with producers realising that hits in one scene would easily translate to the other. Caspa’s flawless remix of “Where’s My Money” just might be this exchange’s high-water mark, as he delivered an absolute stomper of a mix that not only eclipsed the original, but also became an unavoidable anthem—full stop. In fact, the track became so ubiquitous that it sparked a groan-inducing parody, but let’s not hold that against it.

Rusko — Jahova

Essentially a dubstep version of the Rebel MC (aka Congo Natty) classic “Jahovia”, which itself flips The Revolutionaries’ “Kunta Kinte” riddim, “Jahova” is a Russian nesting doll of dub, with roots stretching back to reggae’s foundational era. Don’t mistake it for a history lesson however, as every snare and every bass hit lands heavily enough to reduce raves to rubble, like a sonic Godzilla. This is Rusko at his best, taking inspiration from classic dub sounds before inflating the results into titanic, gargantuan bangers for a generation that wanted everything turned up to 11. Easily the biggest drop on this list.

Caspa Velvet Rooms

An ode to the FWD>> club night’s original home at Velvet Rooms in Soho, “Velvet Rooms” highlights how adept Caspa could be when tackling dubstep’s relaxed, meditative side. Though the drums land closer to grime’s percussive assault than 2-step’s skitter, the riddim’s swing—along with the intro’s neon pads—make this hidden gem the perfect warm-up and cooldown tune, countering Caspa’s reputation as purveyor of peak-time anthems. By the time the drop comes in, you’ve got a track that would fit next to minimalist Loefah excursions and squelchy Joker tunes with equal aplomb.

Skream Dutch Flowerz (Rusko Remix)

You might expect a Skream and Rusko collaboration to land on dubstep’s raucous, lager-soaked side, but thankfully, this “Dutch Flowerz” remix is pure dub bliss, with Rusko smoothing out Skream’s steppers riddim rather than cranking things up. Chalk it up to Amsterdam’s titular flowers, but here, the duo deliver pure eyes down darkness, the kind of tune that will have you closing your eyes in the club and nodding off to on the night bus home. They’d go on to record a few more collabs, but none bested this initial foray.

Caspa Fulham 2 Waterloo

As dubstep began to peak and the sound’s first wave began to run out of ideas, ultimately settling into a proto-EDM excess, DJs and producers began to look towards new pastures, sometimes leaving dubstep entirely, but other times folding in these new influences into the genre. “Fulham 2 Waterloo” isn’t quite UK funky and it isn’t quite soca, but it is an all-out carnival banger, full of tranced-out leads, pounding 4x4 kicks and rattling 808 snare breakdowns. Part of a micro-genre exploring similar drum patterns, it’s a shame that dubstep was running out of steam and unable to pivot towards tracks like this, since they offered a fun, original way to please big-room crowds without relying on stale formulas.

Lennie de Ice We Are IE (Caspa & Rusko Remix)

“We Are IE” is the original breakbeat hardcore banger, combining chilly Detroit pads to dubwise low-end and cracking funk drums, but for my money, this Caspa & Rusko mix might just top the original. Now, before you start sending angry tweets my way, give it a listen: the drums are swung with precision, the bass hits harder and the tune sounds less like a dubstep remix than a perfect slice of underground garage. A little-known footnote in the duo’s catalogue, this hidden gem will liven up your DJ sets, be they skippy or heavyweight.

Caspa & Rusko Rock Bottom

Dubstep at its chilliest and jazziest, “Rock Bottom” revels in a romantic darkness balancing dubstep’s heavy low-end with ethereal synth patches and a melancholy quote from The Business. It’s the archetypical B-Side, one of many that landed on compilations or the back of Sub Soldiers and Dub Police records, that expanded Caspa & Rusko’s sound beyond the more aggressive anthems they were best known for.

Posted on September 08, 2022