On April 25, 2017, Christopher Mercer, aka Rusko, announced that he was cancelling four of his upcoming shows. Through bitter response and angry fans, he managed to keep a cool head. One week later, Rusko shared that he was battling gastric lymphoma, a type of stomach cancer, and was canceling all his summer bookings in order to return to his home in the UK and gain treatment.
In that, the dubstep world stood still. Support from artists such as Excision, Cookie Monsta, Kill the Noise, and Bassnectar, among many others, came pouring in. Cancer is a bitch and we’ve seen it in the EDM world before with the tragic loss of Paul Baumer from the Bingo Players and trance legend DJ Robert Miles. The thought of losing another talented, young soul was all too heartbreaking. As Rusko took time off to get treatment and take care of himself, there was no shortage of memories that many reminisced on. Hell, even Rusko posted a playlist of some throwback songs for everyone to vibe to while he was quiet.
There was no shortage of support. Gentlemens Club paid tribute to Rusko by playing Woo Boost during their sets and having the crowd sing along to the wubs. The energy during this was insane.
Woo Boostin' pic.twitter.com/daRqZVqkCL
— GENTLEMENS CLUB (@GCUK_) May 16, 2017
After four weeks, Rusko got through his first cycle of chemo. Six weeks after that, he finished up his third cycle.
It was in that moment we were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. Seeing Rusko smiling brought a joy and comfort that felt far, far away from when he first shared the news. His high spirit vibrated through the community as we waited for more news.
As summer came and left; as festival season ended; as artists began announcing individual tours, Rusko had the greatest announcement of all:
On October 24th, Rusko joined with YourEDM.com to live stream his big announcement: HE’S CANCER FREE! After nearly 6 months of battling, he was now rid of it. As viewers watched, they learned about how he was diagnosed, how his treatment went, and how he just knew when the cancer was gone from his body. His contagious smile and positivity rang through his announcement. There was a sigh of relief throughout the community as we realized that we were not going to lose him, that his fight would not go unnoticed, and that his soul was not ready to leave.
Fast-forward to 2018. Just a few weeks in and Rusko drops not just one bomb, but two: a tease for his new single Look Out and that he will be playing his first show after kicking cancer’s ass, Wobbleland!
The return of an OG got everyone HYPED. Hell, I even started looking at how I could be in attendance for his big return *insert devil smile emoji here*. Just one day later (and on his 33rd birthday), he drops his new single Look Out.
Lucky joined in and revealed that he would be playing there, too!
With these announcements, there’s one thing for sure: Rusko’s back and ready to rumble.
Now you may be wondering, “What does this all mean?” Well, let us take a look at what Rusko was doing before he decided to kick cancer in the ass.
Most recently, at the end of 2015, Rusko teamed up with another UK dub god, Caspa, and released Blouse an Skirt. They continued joining forces into 2016, started hitting up shows as a b2b: Shambhala, Electric Forest, Electric Daisy Carnival, RAMPAGE, Paradiso, and some LA based shows, just to name a few. They released 2 EPs together, EP 1 and EP 2, along with Cheese and Raver Tears. They were on a roll, bringing back some grimey UK dub that the world so desperately needed. In a scene where brostep was dominating, riddim was on the come up, and subgenres like vomitstep and gorestep gaining popularity, we were definitely missing wobbles. It was nostalgic to hear Jehova, Cockney Thug, Somebody To Love, Hold On, and Woo Boost. Not only was Rusko touring, he decided to release 14 traxx in 14 days:
From drum n bass to electroswing to wobble, there was no shortage of creativity. Rusko ended 2016 with 3 NYE events; Denver, San Diego and Atlanta. His energy was insane, it seemed as if nothing could stop him. He proceeded to kicked off 2017 with a some US and UK shows, booked a few festivals, and then was forced to cancel due to his diagnosis. As his touring and music release came to a halting stop, it felt like Rusko was leaving behind some unfinished business, and that’s exactly what happened. In coming back into the scene, Rusko has made his intentions perfectly clear: he’s here to make good music and play good shows. The BEST shows. He’s here to bring old school wobbles back. He’s here to show the world that even at a low point, you can keep persevering and we are here and so excited for it.
It’s now early 2018, festivals are starting to announce their lineups and if they’re paying attention, they’ll know that booking Rusko is THE move. I mean, when you’ve steadily done your share of killing the game, unwillingly pause your hustle to destroy cancer, AND then bounce back, well…this festival season is your canvas.