The Break Presents: Russ
"Do it everyday, music over everything"—Russ isn't playing any games when everything from the inspiration for his music to the moniker of his clique, DIEMON, is based on said philosophy. The 23-year old, Atlanta-bred rapper and producer effortlessly throws what seems to be natural ambition into his process, which he isn't too shy to admit.
“I'm not sitting around, waiting for something to run across the internet so I can go, 'Oh, that's what I'mma write about'," he told XXL. "I just go around, live life, make music and it's epic.”
To give the young creator his props, he did succeed in getting five of his songs released on Soundcloud to over a million plays within the year of their release. A feat achieved amidst his drop-per-week audacity of 2015, when he self-wrote, produced, mixed, mastered and released one song per week every week.
Sounds crazy, right? Intrepid, at best, but admittedly a smart ploy by the young artist seriously seeking recognition within the already musically over-saturated Internet. 2016 looks like it's harvest season for Russ as he's already landed significant attention within the industry and linked up with Mike Dean towards the end of last year.
The young artist's mass appeal comes from the reliability of his lyrics. Russ delivers personal truths in his words, addressing everything between family issues and light sociopolitical commentary. But don't call him anything close to a conscious rapper.
“That's corny to me,” Russ admonishes, “I don't want to be that. I feel like that [label] would take away from the true goal of my music, which is to make everyday music, every day. This isn't Black music, this isn't White music—it's just good music.”
Some may find his sound to perhaps be underwhelming in the midst of hip-hop's current obsession with deep 808s and sharp snares. But everything from his rapidly growing international and domestic notoriety to his mastery of the musical process—from songwriting to mastering and promotions—is evidence that this guy is going to make you love what he has to say. See what the young creator had to say about his journey in the game thus far.—Christina Kelly
I grew up listening to: "I feel like I love a little bit of everything. I grew up listening to the stuff my parents liked, from Earth, Wind & Fire, Luther Vandross, Billy Joel to Bruce Springsteen and The Mommas & The Poppas. My first introduction to hip hop though was Eminem, Dr. Dre 50 Cent—basically everything G-Unit.
[Now] Drake and Kanye, they are the only ones who do stuff that make me go, "How the fuck did you do that?!" Everyone else is just cool. Everyone else just raps. There's no mystery behind what other people are doing. Drake and Kanye make me want to get better. They're the only competition I see right now. Just like Kanye said in an interview [in French publication, Clique, from 2015's Paris Fashion Week], Drake is a great sparring partner and that's exactly how I feel about them both. They're like gods to me."
Most people don't know: "That I dropped 11 albums before getting on SoundCloud. Oh yeah, I also have two differently colored eyes."
My style has been compared to: "Eminem, obviously because I'm white and I rap. [Laughs] It's weird, people will say I sound like one thing and I always disagree. I'll let the people decide; they can talk amongst themselves."
Standout moment to date: "Getting Cara [Lewis] as a booking agent. She's just a unicorn and I was so excited because I knew I wanted her as my agent since I was 17. Also, when my first song hit a million plays on SoundCloud. That was dope. It was really cool when the video for my song, 'Goodbye,' randomly went viral in Saudi Arabia. I love the women from there."
My goal in hip-hop is: "To dominate everything. I want to be the best at everything—transcending genres, get the most Grammys, have the most number one singles and number one albums."
I'm going to be the next: "Me. For sure. That's why I'm going to win, because when you're being your true self, when you live your truth, you're contributing something to the world that wasn't there before."
Standout: "Too Be Honest"
"Pull The Trigger"
"Do It Myself"