The first time I was introduced to Russ, I had no idea that this would be the artist that would make me claim such a strong appreciation for the art of hip-hop/rap music. My only interaction with rap had always been Drake’s number ones that make for incredible summer hits or Kanye’s old classics, like ‘Gold Digger’. Aside from that, rap was something I would most probably be constantly shouting at my brother to stop playing around the house so loudly.
It was a weekend in March, I was Skyping my best-friend, Reem, for our usual catch up call. She was nagging me uncontrollably to listen to this new song she heard: ‘Losin Control’ by Russ. In music (and in many other areas), Reem and I are polar opposites. So, naturally, I wasn’t psyched to listen to her song suggestion. Never the less, I gave it a listen for the sake of my 5 year friendship with Riri. Surprisingly, I actually really liked it. It rocked a real chill vibe and the lyrics carried meaning. I didn’t give much interest to the artist at this point and, eventually, I forgot his name. The next time I was re-introduced to Russ, I didn’t even realise I was listening to a song by the same artist that ‘Losin Control’ was by.
Over the summer, ‘Losin Control’ grew on me more and more. By August, it was literally all I listened to. Lyrically, it came to resemble word for word what I was going through at that time. Today, it’s a song I carry very close to my heart. In August, K asked me to listen to a song that had been stuck in his head all week. I bet him that it wasn’t going to be stuck in my head, like he kept claiming it would. I realised when I watched the music video, that it was by the same artist as ‘Losin Control’. This time, Russ was platforming a whole new beat in ‘What They Want’. Sadly, by day three, I had lost the bet. Not only was the song stuck in my head – I had already learned off all the lyrics simply from the insane amount of times I had played the song.
It was then that I started to seriously invest my time looking up more of Russ’ music. I started pulling up the Genius lyrics for each song I listened to by him. I had never been so intrigued by someone’s music like I was with his. I began to realise the factors that made Russ stand out to me, amongst all the other rappers today – including my first Canadian bae, Drake. (K, I’m sorry, it’s true though). Aside from the fact that Russ is a rapper, songwriter and a producer, which is expressed through over 80 songs on Soundcloud. He has also mixed, mastered and engineered each song himself. His music is also extremely diverse in sound. Each song has it’s own sound and taste, every song vibes differently and Russ pulls off each sound exceptionally. He can sound so different from one track to another and it’s why I always find a song for every mood I’m in and I never bore of listening to his track list.
Russ, as a person, is simultaneous to Russ as an artist. He is extremely raw and honest in his work and says things how he sees them, without what is considered today as “rap politics”. He backed his dreams up himself and started producing beats in his basement from the age of about 14. Before that, he was writing his own raps in a notebook from the age of 7. He then went on to record his first song at 18 and used Soundcloud as his platform. He doesn’t believe in achieving his aspirations through signed record deals and through being a product of what label companies see rap artists ought to be presented as today. He floats on his own vibe and his own hype and it’s pays off, as he emerges this year as one of 2016’s biggest growing artists. He preaches the power of positivity and how much simply believing in yourself can do for you. He previously noted how a lot of his values were developed through books he read growing up, including The Alchemist. Not only are are these values evident in his music, but he is constantly promoting self belief, positivity, and a bit of an honest view too from the rap game on Twitter.
Having just turned 24 on the 26th of this month, he has definitely left an impression much bigger than what would be expected at such a young age. Through Russ, I got to understand how rap can promote a more honest story and is more direct through it’s lyrics. Russ does it best by just saying things exactly how they are, no sugar coating. Now, I find myself listening to Russ on my way to college in the morning. His music gives me a fun way of motivating myself for a long day. It reminds me to work hard to achieve my dreams. I also find myself dancing around in my room to the likes of his more hyped up tracks. When it comes to matters of the heart, I’m singing along to ‘Losin Control’ and ‘We Just Haven’t Met Yet’. Finally, when it comes to his constant mention of Middle Eastern and Latina women in his music and his huge admiration for them, I like to think that being Irish-Egyptian myself and having studied Spanish for 7 years, puts me at an advantage if he ever brings his meet and greet tour to Ireland. Is it evident I therefore also have a bit of a crush?