RESPECT. Interview: Russ, the Hardest-Working Artist in Hip-Hop


Russ is wasting no time on his way to the top. His work ethic is unparalleled, his vision is without compromise and he’s proven he’s the only one holding the keys to his future. From the mic to production to SoundCloud royalty, he can do it all — better than the rest. Russ sat down with RESPECT. to speak on his new record deal, recent success and his plans for 2017.

RESPECT.: You signed to Columbia Records this summer. Why did you go in this direction as opposed to another label?

Russ: Intuition.

How will this change your approach to creating and releasing music in 2017?

You know, the super-dope thing about Columbia is that they completely understand the vision. That was another big reason I went with them. They understand what I built up, and kind of how I got here, the method that I used to get here — which, you know, was the singles, the output, the content. So it hasn’t really changed much at all, regarding how I put out music. I’m still in the same studio, I still make whatever I make, I still drop it when I want to drop it. But now I can give their people a heads-up, like, “Yo, I’m about to drop it,” and they’re like, “Yo, all right, cool, man.” But definitely next year we’re planning to put out a project, for sure. You know, I’m just waiting for the buzz to be right. I have the ability to drop so much content, so many songs on SoundCloud, videos, et cetera, et cetera.

RESPECT.: Are you perhaps working on an album with Columbia Records?

Russ: Yeah, so that’s the thing: My album was done when I signed.

RESPECT.: Within the last two years, your career has truly started to blossom. What will you do with it? Are you just having fun, making money or trying to be the best who ever did it?

That’s the end game. I’m trying to be No. 1 across all categories.

RESPECT.: You’ve established yourself as an immensely accomplished rapper, singer and producer since entering the game. How important is it in today’s industry to be a multitalent threat?

I think it’s super important. I think it’s all fair to say Drake is No. 1, and I think that’s largely his ability to sing those hooks. How can you compete with the best if you can’t even do what the best can do? You have to be 100% multitalented if you want to compete with the best. If you’re cool with being top 20 and not top two, then cool. I’m trying to compete with the best.

RESPECT.: Recently, label executives, writers and critics have all been attempting to label your sound. How would you describe your music?

I wouldn’t. I think people need to decide that for themselves.


RESPECT.: Your SoundCloud accolades are incredible and well documented since you registered your account just two years ago. Why has your SoundCloud presence been so successful?

I put out a song a week, for like two years, and it was dope. A lot of people are like, “Quality over quantity, quality over quantity,” and yes, that is a rule that society has put in your head because they’re assuming you can’t make quality music [often] enough to also put it out at a high rate. But everything I dropped is quality, every week. So I think what it was was good music being put out every week, and it was never bad music being put out. Sometimes it was just better than others, whatever, whatever, but I feel like it was all quality. I think one more thing is my style with my graphic designer. My boy [and I] kind of organically stumbled upon our whole aesthetic. You know, when you go on my SoundCloud, it looks like a real package, it looks clean. It’s fresh. At the end of the day, I think it comes down to being consistent each week. You know, there’s a void in hip-hop. People need to f****** rap and make good songs. There’s all this s*** rap, and a bunch of people can’t f****** rap.

RESPECT.: You’ve been touring across the United States since early October. What has been your favorite stop so far on your current Yung God Tour?

I don’t really have a favorite, but one of the craziest places was Montreal.

RESPECT.: Features haven’t been priority for you thus far. Is there a specific reason? And will this continue in 2017?

Yeah, I just don’t f*** with people like that. I’m not dying to work with that many people. The ones I would like to work with are like the elite, and I’m down to wait for that to happen. And the main reason is I’m a new artist and I’m trying to get people acquainted with what I’m doing. I see all these people, and I’m like, “Why you doing all these features when we don’t even know who you are?”

RESPECT.: You recently tweeted that you did 79 shows this year, and next year you’re going even crazier. Can you give us any details on what you’ve got planned?

Actually, I did more than 79 shows this year. The 79 shows I counted were headlines; I only counted my headline shows. So next year it’s music festivals. We’re going to go to Australia and a bunch of cool places. It’s just going to be crazy and go super, super well.

RESPECT.: What advice do you have for young, amateur artists recording their first DIY songs, who are looking up to you as an inspiration as someone who’s done it?

I would say follow your intuition. Really listen to your gut. Make what you think is cool; don’t make what other people like, or what you think you have to make to fit in or whatever. Just make what you think is cool, and perfect that. When you perfect what you think is cool — whether it’s a shirt, song, video or whatever — if you do it enough, you’ll be surprised there’s a lot of other people in the world who will think it’s cool. You don’t want to portray to the world something that’s not even really you. Do you. And do you over and over again. Follow my footsteps and follow my movements when it comes to dropping [laughs].


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About TJ Mroz

- Honors, Communications (Wilfrid Laurier University) - Program Director, Radio Laurier (Waterloo & Brantford Campus) - Host of The Rap Up (Radio Laurier) - Amateur Hip-Hop artist - Email: - Twitter: @TeeJmroz