Piranha in Brooklyn: The Latest Russ Loosies

The latest loosies from Russ are more than enough reason to pay the young emcee attention.
By    May 6, 2015


Max Bell agreed to wear the puffy shirt 0n The Today Show.

The string of self-produced (and still gratis) loosies Russ uploaded to his SoundCloud over the past few months are there in black and white (or at least HTML), but serious coverage remains scant. Sure, not every song lands, but those that do are more impressive than the best showings from most rappers, never mind those who sing, produce their own songs, and execute their own hooks.

“Brooklyn Freestyle” is cavernous boom-bap tempered by the kind of vocal sample you hope RZA used on that publicity stunt he’s calling a Wu-Tang album. Russ rides deep in the pocket while throwing heavyweight punchlines at moneymen and groupies. At times it’s as erratic as an actual freestyle, briefly touching on everything from a friend’s heroin addiction to partying in L.A., but it’s honest and aggressive.

“Your Favorite Rapper” and “Single Parent Anthem” border on brilliant pop-rap. The former traces Russ’s path to rap as much as it does his attempts to navigate genre tropes both contemporary and outdated. The latter is full of pained narratives of broken relationships. Some he knows intimately, some are fabricated. Even the fictitious are filled with affecting realism.

The latest missive is “Piranha Freestyle.” Over melancholic piano keys and dirty, lo-fi percussion, Russ takes aim at all competitors. It’s a snarling attack as much as it is an assertion of self-belief. It’s not perfect, but it’s incredibly promising.

Like many rappers his age, Russ could benefit from more careful curation. But few are capable of reconciling pop sensibilities with capital-B Bars; few are capable of shuttling between them so seamlessly, backpack and gold chain in tow. Russ should be on your radar.

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