It starts, as is so often the case with things in 2017, with a tweet.
A random one at that, from Uproxx if you recall properly but you're not even sure you do by now cause it's been so long. It's the kind of random tweet of which you see hundreds every day (you're always on Twitter, duh), and more often than not you never click. But this time you did, for some reason. The tweet said that three rap albums were released the previous week but that one was the best one, you needed to click on the hyperlink to know which one, and so you did.
That's how you discovered Russ. The 24-year-old is a singer/rapper from Atlanta by way of Jersey, who does it all: "singing, rapping, mix and mastering, engineer, and producer. That's every song with no exception," as he raps on I'm Here. The song is the opener from Russ's debut album There's Really A Wolf, the one that Uproxx voted as the best one of that weekend's in that tweet where you clicked. (See, it all comes together.)
The album, you'll quickly recall since that article made you go on Spotify to grab it, indeed was the best one released from that week. In fact, if everyone is playing for second place after Kendrick Lamar's DAMN., maybe actually they're playing for bronze. Russ just about has the silver wrapped up.
But we'll get to that. First, let's insist on how little this ever happens anymore, how rare it is in 2017 and with the entire world at your fingertips to just, like, discover a new artist/sport/hobby out of the blue. It's almost like there's too much, too much music, and sometimes someone has to fall through the cracks.
This doesn't happen supposedly, not anymore and not in 2017. Oddly enough, to you it wouldn't have happened 10 to 12 years ago. You had all the time in the world then, and you spent a good chunk of it on rap forums searching through every possible new album release, leaked or advanced or neither. Surely you would have known about Russ then. But in 2017, you didn't. You don't have as much free time, life happens and you just bought a house so, like, who cares about these rap forums, right?
If you don't feel inspired by it, then you hatin', as Russ raps on the excellent Act Now and in a way it's true. Here's a guy who's looked rap and rap establishment in the eyes and said, Fuck it. I'll do it myself. That's what might have happened with Russ? You're not sure, you're kinda just reading through the lines on his Wikipedia page, but it feels like if maybe a reason why Russ does it all himself is because he tried to do it with and for someone else and it didn't work. In any case, whatever the reason it's working. Russ is here to stay.
Russ has one massive advantage over others, as he raps in the opener, and it's namely that he's a Do-it-all machine. That goes for his music, yes, and he does showcase equally good rhyming and singing abilities. It's not just about that but there's something to be said for not having to feature a singer on your chorus and being able to handle it all yourself, like he does on Me You. Hear him say that he "don't wanna bitch" and he just wants to help the people that he came up with while also rapping that "You ain't hit a triple, a lot of rappers born on third base" in the next verse; that tells you all you need to know.
Not many could, and do, do it like he does. And the DIY doesn't stop just at the music apparently. Russ is a know-it-all publisher as well apparently, which isn't without its perks. Like when you get a platinum plaque for What They Want, then you actually really get a platinum plaque.
The other thing you notice with Russ, because you use the platform all day long for work, is how fire his socials are. Erase your social (shout-out to Uzi) not, because you can build on this. Just ask Russ. He's not the only one who's up to 600,000+ fans on his Facebook page, but not everyone else who's there will get 27,000 Likes on a photo of him and his mother on the latter's birthday. Sure, you can get those Likes with ads but only to an extent; you won't get from 0 to 27K just like that, not even on Facebook. You need a base. And Russ has his.
There's really a wolf, and Russ is the one who's been saying so all along. He knew he had talent and he made it happen. And he knew this album would deliver, so that's what he called it. It's not crying wolf if the wolf really was there all along. (The flip side is Russ also believes in the power of positive thinking, which is all fine and dandy, so long as he doesn't mean actually like on some The Secret type of thing, that you just need to visualize a thing and said thing will happen. Because that's mostly just a shortcut for intellectual reasoning.)
Russ is that one friend of yours, you know the type. The friend who picks up pottery just because why not. The friend who plays ball just about as well as he plays the piano and chess, and who somehow gets all the girls. The friend who's creative af and cocky but only because he's known all along. Russ is that guy, he's known it all along. He's the everyday hustler with a good dose of charisma, good wordplay and a solid flow.
He's cried wolf. Then he delivered tenfold.