Russ Millions: “I’m not here to make anyone cry, I’m here to make you dance”

With his record-breaking drill hit ‘Gun Lean’ turning five this year, ahead of his debut mixtape Russ Millions spoke to us about the state of drill music, vulnerability, and his goals for the future

Russ Millions is the go-to guy for timeless party hits. The history-making Bellingham pop driller is known for his UK number one ‘Body’ with Tion Wayne, alongside viral tracks like ‘Keisha & Becky’ and ‘Gun Lean’, and his vivacious energy has propelled him to be the top of the food chain in the UK’s rap scene.

Before 2018, drill music was vilified as police shut down sold-out shows and censored drill groups; but once the genre emerged from the UK underground its popularity broke into the charts, and Russ Millions was the face of that rise. With his exuberant debut single ‘Gun Lean’, the south Londoner scored not only his first top 10 single – making it the first-ever drill track to reach the chart’s upper levels and Russ the first UK drill star to achieve such a feat.

Shedding the tough guy persona that UK drill artists are moulded by with his dancing and flashy style, Russ was moving the needle in the genre and offering a pop-friendly alternative for the world to get behind. Earning a solid fan base worldwide, he’s had international rap juggernauts such as Bronx residents Dreamdoll and French Montana, Toronto’s 6God Drake, and Nigeria’s afrobeats king Davido all cheering him on. While rubbing shoulders with these stars, he changed drill forever.


The 26-year-old is now gearing up to release his debut mixtape ‘One Of A Kind’, which is a collection of high-octane party tracks executed to the highest level. Ahead of its release, Russ sat down in a South London studio for the latest in NME’s In Conversation series. Blinged out with his colossal iced-out chain in tribute to his late sister Shyann, and his pomeranian Milo in clutch, he discussed his new single ‘Detty’, vulnerability, and his aspirations for his own record label. Here’s what we learned.

‘Detty’ shows what we can expect on ‘One Of A Kind’

Russ’ latest single ‘Detty’, a fast-paced, exuberant drill track, was inspired by his friend Detty, who was “chilling in the booth in the studio” whilst he made the song.

A collaborative juggernaut, Russ may have had smashes with other artists, but for his latest single, he explains that fans “needed a proper solo from [him]”. So, as a precursor to upcoming mixtape ‘One Of A Kind’, ‘Detty’ sets the tone for what you should be expecting from Russ very soon: “[This single is] more of a quick, dance vibe. Not like an intro but ‘Detty’ [is in] mixtape mode: this is the kind of sounds you’re going to get.”

He doesn’t count his first EPs as part of his discography

Russ has already achieved a host of milestones in his career without dropping his first album. He’s had five top 20 singles on the UK chart, including two top 10s and a number one (the aforementioned ‘Body’); but when it comes to the two EPs he put out in 2020 ‘Russ Hour’ and ‘My Son: The EP’, he explains he “wouldn’t really class those EPs like how [he]’d class another rapper’s”.

“I just went to Mr Wotson’s house [Russ’ friend and music engineer behind platform WOT Entertainment] and was like, ‘Yo! I wanted to drop an EP. I’m independent now’. I wanted to see if I was really independent, and it worked. I didn’t do [any] promo, nothing. I just dropped them, so we’re not counting them.”

Russ isn’t up for being too emotional with his music


Russ’ version of vulnerability, he explains, is less emotional and more physical. Although we’ll find some more “emotional” tracks when he’s in “album mode”, Russ believes his dancing and non-mask-wearing self are proof of his vulnerability. “Of course, I’m showing you a different side of me,” he starts. “I never used to dance like that, maybe a gun lean [his signature dance] but I took the mask off and started dancing, enjoying myself.”

And that’s Russ’ musical ethos; to enjoy yourself. “I’m not here to make anyone cry,” he chuckles. “I’m not here to put people in their feelings. I’m here to make you dance, but naturally, I’m going to do some emotional, real-life stuff for my supporters. I’ve already got one or two, but I’ll be real, I’m not the person for all of that”

He wants to support other artists with his own label

With his debut mixtape on the way, Russ is already thinking about bossing up with his own record label, also named One Of A Kind.

“I’ve got my own record label so I just want to help out other people and I want to get my label to a place where I can do that,” the community-minded Russ explains. “I don’t want to be the rapper or the star all the time. I want to be able to step back eventually and just run my label. That’s my goal.”

You’ve got to ignore the haters and focus on the vision

Once upon a time, there was discussion of the possible demise of UK drill’s first superstar, and Russ wasn’t having it. While speaking to his friend and frequent collaborator, renowned drill producer Fumez The Engineer, for his Studio With Fumez YouTube series, Russ detailed how he saw “bare people saying Russ fell off” thinking, “What’s going on? There must be something wrong”. He realised, “It wasn’t just the music… [he] was getting into bare fights” and knew he needed to change his image. Now, he’s learnt that he can’t “argue with everyone on the internet”, he’s had to ”pattern up” and get back to the top of the charts.

Speaking about that time in his life, Russ says, “It’s techy because you’ve got the internet and they’re being annoying so you’re like, ‘They don’t know nothing!’”. Learning from the situation, Russ now has advice for those surrounded by negativity: “You’ve gotta have tunnel vision. Forget the internet. If you got a plan, stick to your plan. You’ve got to pattern yourself up and get back to the vision.”

Russ Millions mixtape ‘One Of A Kind’ is out February 24