14 Songs, 50 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even after his 2017 debut, There’s Really A Wolf, catapulted to the top of streaming charts, Atlanta-raised do-it-all Russ (he often engineers and mixes the music he produces) was extremely vocal about the lack of support he’d gotten from traditional music media. Having thrived without it, the rapper and singer turns the lens inward for his sophomore album, walking listeners through the way his life has changed since. “It’s a really weird balance of living your dreams and all of these amazing things are happening,” he told Beats 1 host Zane Lowe, “but then some of the most negative things happened.” He goes into great detail about these things on “Parkstone Drive,” a song about familial troubles built on a loop of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” and “Keep My Wits,” a song about not being able to trust new acquaintances. Elsewhere, Russ includes a letter to an old flame on “Missin You Crazy” and promises only the best intentions for a new interest on “Serious,” which samples the Jagged Edge aughts R&B classic “He Can’t Love U.” And if you’re at all worried about Russ losing his signature competitive edge, look no further than the album’s main reference to his competition: “Kill Them All.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Even after his 2017 debut, There’s Really A Wolf, catapulted to the top of streaming charts, Atlanta-raised do-it-all Russ (he often engineers and mixes the music he produces) was extremely vocal about the lack of support he’d gotten from traditional music media. Having thrived without it, the rapper and singer turns the lens inward for his sophomore album, walking listeners through the way his life has changed since. “It’s a really weird balance of living your dreams and all of these amazing things are happening,” he told Beats 1 host Zane Lowe, “but then some of the most negative things happened.” He goes into great detail about these things on “Parkstone Drive,” a song about familial troubles built on a loop of Sting’s “Shape of My Heart,” and “Keep My Wits,” a song about not being able to trust new acquaintances. Elsewhere, Russ includes a letter to an old flame on “Missin You Crazy” and promises only the best intentions for a new interest on “Serious,” which samples the Jagged Edge aughts R&B classic “He Can’t Love U.” And if you’re at all worried about Russ losing his signature competitive edge, look no further than the album’s main reference to his competition: “Kill Them All.”

TITLE TIME

About Russ

During the 2010s, Russ Vitale -- a rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer -- emerged from the Atlanta-area underground with dozens of independent singles and albums, all of which were made freely available as downloads. Inspired by 50 Cent and Eminem, as well as the classic rock he absorbed as a youngster, the New Jersey-born Vitale gradually learned to play several instruments, including guitar, which was taught to him by his father. After a short period of enrollment at Kennesaw State, Vitale established Diemon, a collective and label. His prolific output switched between swaggering modern hip-hop anthems and woozy R&B-oriented ballads, with relaxed melodic hooks the common element in both modes. He gradually gained a significant following through word of mouth and exposure from alternative weeklies and major rap publications. In 2015 and 2016, his career really picked up with cuts like "Losin Control," "What They Want," and "Pull the Trigger," which were among his most popular recordings to that point. Russ signed to Columbia Records in 2017, and released his major-label debut, There's Really a Wolf. The album featured the aforementioned singles and debuted in the top ten of the Billboard 200. As the year progressed, Vitale continued to release singles, including "Prosper," "Maybe," and "Lean on You." ~ Andy Kellman

HOMETOWN
Secaucus, NJ
BORN
September 26, 1992

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