Russ may be one of today’s most talked-about rappers, but he still considers himself an underdog. On his latest project, ‘Shake the Snow Globe’, he earns his seat at the big boy table, comfortably sitting alongside the Drakes, J. Coles and Kendrick Lamars of the world. That’s largely thanks to a new melody driven focus and his ever-present uncompromising lyrical content.
Russ opens his 14th release reflecting on his rise to notoriety. On ‘Need A Moment’, he humbly acknowledges his growth: “Still in the basement / Just the basement’s a little bit bigger now.” As he manoeuvres a sea of acoustic sounds he pops his collar a little, pointing out the luxuries fame has afforded him, which continues straight into the Rick Ross-featuring ‘Guess What’ (“Guess what? I just put my logo in my pool”, Russ boasts).
Rather than just addressing the haters and reeling off a shopping list of material trophy items, Russ explores real depth here. He’s still ruthless. He’s still unapologetic. However there are flashes of vulnerability spread throughout ‘Shake The Snow Globe’. “I thought I was gonna die around the time that I made ‘Zoo’,” he raps on ‘Shots’, exploring the excessive consumption of alcohol as well as life’s many other spoils and how the media treats him.
Not one to follow trends, Russ’ unwavering desire to feel out a record as opposed to following the hottest trend trumps any other decision made on this album. From the Dipset-inspired sped-up sample on ‘Can’t Go On’ to the luscious lo-fi tones that play understudy to the ticking trap taps on ‘Nighttime (Interlude)’, he rejects commonplace production throughout. See also this album’s breakout hit, ‘Best On Earth’, which features up-and-coming Massachusetts rapper BIA.
In fact, the album’s features further indicate Russ’ disconnect from conformity. While the rest of the industry clambers over the biggest new names, he calls upon the likes of Devin the Dude (‘Foot On The Gas’), Benny the Butcher (‘I Thought You Got Me’) and Bugus (‘Asshole’). And that’s where ‘Shake The Snow Globe’ truly shines. It’s unorthodox by current industry standards, yet sounds better than the majority of label-steered smashes.
With Russ finding success on his own terms, ‘Shake The Snow Globe’ is unique. Consistent from start to finish, it’s a more complete body of work than 2018’s ‘Zoo’. People often hate those who march to their own beat, and Russ knows this. But that doesn’t stop him asking for his accolades while he’s still living (“I want roses when I’m living, not just roses when I die”). And, boy, has he earned them with this album.
Release date: January 31
Record label: Russ My Way Inc. / Columbia