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.”

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About Russ

A self-made multi-talent who started out giving his music away online, Russ is nothing if not a product of his times. The Atlanta-bred artist (born Russell Vitale in 1992) wrote, rapped, sang, and produced nearly a dozen free—and mostly feature-free—albums between 2011 and 2014, before inking a deal with Columbia Records. It’s a work ethic that not only earned him a loyal fan base, but also the freedom to explore his sound on his own terms. There’s Really a Wolf, from 2017, established him as a strong new voice in the mainstream, blending trap beats with atmospheric R&B and live instrumentation (played, of course, by Russ), introspection (“Scared,” “Losin Control”), and extroversion (“Me You,” “One More Shot”). Stickiest of all is Russ’ natural sense of melody—a quality that comes through both in his beats and his sing-song flow. Speaking to Beats 1’s Zane Lowe just before the release of 2018's Zoo, Russ railed against the superficiality of the industry surrounding his art: “So I’ve got to go to this event just to fake the funk just so that they might give me a look?” he said. “It’s like, ‘Come on, bro. Can’t we just make music?'”

HOMETOWN
Secaucus, NJ
BORN
September 26, 1992

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