Your New Favourite Rapper; Russ.


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?


A Survival Guide To Every (Egyptian) Girl Who Thought He Was “Different”.

So it all starts when it ends, and you slowly begin to remember everything all your girlfriends warned you about and all your mom’s advice. Never the less, it’s all the things you didn’t really listen to at the time, because you were too busy infatuated with him. Quietly, you can just about make it out over the blaring heartbreak playlist, the sentence that’s ringing in your ears over and over again; “I thought he was different.”

Although no doubt, the douchebag of a guy you dated is to blame, I simply cannot help but also acknowledge just how much blame can be pointed to the girl who’s curled up in her bed at 3am with mascara tear-stains streaming her face. Judging by the music blaring in her room, no ‘Elissa’ or ‘Shereen’ heartbreak song is cheesy anymore. Unfortunately, I cannot circle myself out and say that I can’t relate to that very scenario. In fact, for me, it played out that my first “love” was also my first heartbreak… but behold, this very article can be shared because of my terrible first choice in boys.

The 10 steps to survival:

1. Cry.
Cry in the mornings, at night, in the shower, during your classes. Cry quietly or loudly or wail into your pillow. Just let it all out. This is the time to invest in that waterproof mascara you’ve been meaning to get… unless you want to take the look of a haunting banshee for the next couple of months.

2. Block him off everything. EVERYTHING.
I don’t know what it is with Egyptians and blocking, but they all seem to use it for the wrong purpose. One argument with someone and BAM you’re blocked. This is NOT the same thing – no matter how “childish” your ex claims it is or how “dramatic” he perceives it to be. It is not the same thing. It’s important to take time to heal. Avoiding having to see anything revolving his life is a part of that. The last thing you need while hurting is to be updated with his new pictures, tweets about how great his life is and flirty texts on Whatsapp when his hormones are on a high.

3. Stay Occupied.
This is the time to pick up that sport you’ve always wanted to try out or actually dedicate time to your studies. If you can, get a part-time job. Depending on yourself is critical for recovery. It’s important to understand that you’re strong enough to carry yourself and proving that you can do that financially, will help you do it emotionally too. Plus, a pay-check at the end of every week is always helpful, because as us girls all know, shopping heals a broken heart in no time.

4. New Shuffle.
As hard as it is, your heartbreak playlist will be in desperate need of an attitude change. Take it in baby steps. Slowly, start to replace the moping sad songs about how much you “still love and miss him” for songs that have a stronger message. One by one, switch out the songs about your hurt, for songs that talk about how you’re better off without him. Behind every heartbroken girl is a girl who’s determined to show him what he’s missing. These songs will help unleash that feisty attitude to help you believe that you’re definitely better off.

5. Self Confidence = Self-Worth.
It’s way too easy to fall into the habit of blaming yourself for the breakup. We’re always the most confident of people, until someone we love makes us feel like we’re not good enough. All of a sudden, all our self-worth and confidence has bungee-jumped off the side of a building. It’s important to remember that you’re not the jumper in this situation – how you feel about yourself is. You’re the maintenance guy standing on top of the building, controlling the straps that will spring your self-worth and confidence right back up to the rooftop before it hits the ground. In simpler terms, it’s your job to start loving yourself again. Don’t wait around for another guy to come along and try to love you better than your ex did.

6. Girlfriend VS Boyfriend.
And your girlfriend always wins. No matter how much she tires of having to hear the story over and over again, especially since she practically lived it out with you – trust that your best-friend is never gonna leave you during any step of the way. She is going to be your rock, shoulder to cry on and your wake up call when you need it most.

7. Survivor Not A Victim.
Even though, yes, technically, you are the victim in this situation – do not let yourself live in that role any longer than needed. Continuing to live “fe dor el da7eya” makes you nothing more than exactly that, a victim. If that’s how you see yourself, then accept that that’s exactly how everyone else will see you too… including the douchebag himself. Accept that the strongest victim becomes a survivor and work towards becoming one. Loving someone with dignity doesn’t make you weak and it’s up to you to prove that by not being perceived that way.

8. Bad Relationship = No Friendship.
We hear it all time… you can’t be friends with someone you used to love. There’s some truth to it, but it isn’t entirely correct. There are so many people who mutually agree to end their relationship for numerous different reasons and still manage to find a friendship agreement that works. But if someone hurt you as your boyfriend, don’t expect them not to hurt you just because you’re dropping the word “boy” from the title he’s about to take in your life. If someone cared about you, they would never cause you so much hurt in the first place – as a boyfriend or a friend. So, any thoughts you had of trying to work out a friendship, well, throw them out the window.

9. Putting Yourself Back On The Market.
Wait for the right guy to come along, but when he does, make sure you’re now fully ready to get back onto the market. You don’t wanna be one of the girls in the following two scenarios:
(1) No guy is going to try to get closer to you, because everyone, and I mean everyone, knows you’re still hung up on your ex.
(2) You’re so desperate to get yourself a rebound, there’s not a single guy you haven’t tried hitting up some flirtation-playstation with.
Honestly, I can’t decide which is worse.

10. Kill ‘Em With Kindness.
Not being friends doesn’t in any way make you strangers. Don’t take on a childish attitude. There is no logic in trying to avoid bumping into them at common hangout places or refusing to go out with a group of people, if your ex will be there. In fact, you should always be aiming to do the opposite. It’s important to remember that along with all the hurt and pain, came a lot of amazing memories. This person once meant a whole lot to you and was a huge part of your life. If you loved them the way you claim you did, then a part of you probably always will. Don’t take “el 3eshra” for granted. Text them for their birthdays and special yearly events. Give them a smile and a firm handshake when you see them, and join in the conversation and laughs if you’re ever both out with mutual friends. If you ever meet his new girlfriend, have the decency to hope that maybe he’ll be a better boyfriend to her than he was to you. And if and when she asks, only ever tell her about all of his great qualities and forget about mentioning any of the bad or bringing up the past. Because, truthfully, by the time step 9 comes around, you should have already forgiven, forgotten and more importantly, let go.

A Message In A Bottle // Meriem Ahmed.

Fluttering butterflies – signalled by the tone of your voice. They rush all at once through my being, and I, am incapable of catching even one. You appear to me as an empty beach at night. You are my favourite place. The only thing I have ever been able to favor over anything else. Though distance pulls us back, like waves do grains of sand on a shore – you are the sky and the salty air, suffocating my senses. Blocking out any other atmosphere I have ever known. Any other love, I have ever known.

Most of all, because I sit for hours, singing to you. Talking to you about all that I am, all that I feel. But, like the beach’s waters, you listen to my words and leave me out of my mind, trying to decipher the meaning of your waves crashing onto the sand. Every sunset, I gaze beyond the horizon and ask; “How many suns must I watch disappear, before I get to hold you in my arms, instead of see you in my dreams?”

I don’t know much about this war that has captured my mind and heart on thin thread. The only thing I have become certain of is that everything about you is summer and everything you bring is bright. You are warmth and you are long starry nights. You are summer today, you are summer to me. And I’ve always feared the cold, for darling, before you, all I knew was winter for eighteen years.