on thursday i had a chance to see russ, a young rapper/singer i’ve been following for some time now. people who know me would probably think his style doesn’t really fit what i normally listen to. ironically, i’m in so deep with this kid that i couldn’t tell you the difference anymore.
in his track exposed, russ says “[artists’] fans are fickle cuz your come up is a mystery… my fans gon stick with me cuz me and them got history“. and at least for me, this is true.
this is the story of me and russ.
it was 2012 when i first listened to his vacation mixtape. it was a friday and i was with my dad at his chemo appointment. i streamed the album and was taken by the let me know track that samples from the isley brothers’ song of the same title.
to set the scene a bit better, i had just left my relationship of six years leaving behind a dog and car. i moved back in with my parents… in my thirties. my dad was just diagnosed with cancer. there was a lot going on.
but russ and i met somewhere in the middle. he had lyrics that were angry and beats and melodies that were… hopeful… optimistic. (i call his style rap&b now.) so i started listening more closely to his story every friday at chemo. and week after week, i knew him a little more than the last. and i felt like his words were often mine.
“god damn, lord
give me a sign
give me your words
give me your sight
give me your mind
cuz i’m feeling blind
deaf and dumb
my soul is on a leash
sayin please let me run.”
—russ, let me know.
ultimately, he made me feel like i wasn’t alone. everything i was feeling, he was somewhere feeling it, too. and so i was hooked. i’ve been listening to every new russ track and album since. because that’s what music is supposed to do, right? tell a story. bring people together. make you feel things.
but all things said and done, russ reminds me of my dad. he reminds me of my ex(es). he reminds me of pain as much as he reminds me of love. i’d had a chance to see him last year, and i was so excited about it. he was performing at venue oakland and i had my tickets already lined up. but it was just after father’s day and i was feeling… empty. i just couldn’t muster up the courage to be in the audience listening to track after track that reminded me of my dad. so i skipped it.
but the thing was that i also needed his music more than ever. he’d become my new “spring love” by stevie b, which used to be the one song i’d never skip. no matter what mood i was in, it always made me feel better.
2016 was a big year for me and russ—the things i experienced, the things i felt. the track on this post, losin control, was especially important to me… as i cut off guy after guy from my life in an effort to start fresh. to figure myself out. to understand what i wanted and what i needed to do to get there. but even beyond that, in the context of being hurt by just about anyone—friend, foe, family… betrayal in general. the song… was me. is me.
on thursday, russ put it all on stage. he told his story. he told my story. he made me feel good. as though his come up is my come up, too.
and i sure am counting on that.