Russ is an up and coming artist from Georgia by way of New Jersey, who’s been highlighted on the site before and promotes himself to write, produce, engineer, and perform every single aspect of his music <<< very respectable >>> and here he is with his first studio album There’s Really A Wolf, which has recently gained some traction in the news cycle due to Russ’s clear disdain for blogs, which of course is ironic considering as a result it’s now the blogs turning him into a recognizable name.
Nonetheless Russ may have a point when it comes to a lack of integrity in music journalism, where it seems to always be about moments over music and image over talent and skills, evident in every ‘Top 10’ or ‘Who’s Hottest’ list to ever be published within the mainstream. Therefore for Russ to be a one man machine and sell 50K in his first week (including streams) without the support of the media is certainly commendable, and now it’s time to find out it’s true level of quality in spite of everything else.
Without further ado There’s Really A Wolf is critiqued track by track below, mostly to mixed results.
“Five-star suites, Trojan wrappers on the floor, that's the aesthetic when you gettin half a mil on tour, not bad for six weeks, plus I should receive my plaque soon, shittin on the game, I'll probably hang it in my bathroom” The first record on the project is certainly one of the standouts, with Russ coasting on his own production and out the gate this one really comes together nicely. It’s not really fuck-up-your-rewind button worthy but he’s spittin on this.
“Doors are openin' that were previously locked, treat this game like any other bitch, I just need me the top, always knew that I'd become what I'm becomin, that one that's got the movers and shakers all in discussion” Similar to the previous record he’s coasting but he’s not fucking up my rewind button, nonetheless I respect it all the same. Decent album cut highlighted by the hook that’s both insightful and relatable.
“I'm tryna go on my phone less and less these days, and I don't talk to women less it's sex these days, I'm on my second presidential Rolex these days, I could chill but I would rather flex these days” A straightforward braggadocious record yet nonetheless still one of the standouts, highlighted by its repetitive rhyme scheme in the first verse that’s just catchy enough to get some replay value
“Feelin lonely in this room since I was 17, thought this bottle was supposed to drown my memory, but I'm still swimmin in your vision and it's temptin me, but next time that I call I'm hopin that you answer me… maybe I'm a fool, maybe I'm a fool for you…” Now Russ is truly showing his range as an artist, as the first three records - while all relatively decent - more or less sound like Drake-lite or perhaps Drake without all the ghostwriters, yet on this record Russ is second to no one, as even though he crosses over genres similar to many other MC’s just like him, he definitely holds his own and this one truly feels like it has a purpose.
“Thank you to anyone who ever slammed the door on me, because of you, I did it myself, so it means more to me, did so many free shows and now they can't afford the fee, no one gave a fuck and now the whole world's recordin me” On this record Russ makes the distinction between himself and many other struggling artists looking for a handout, as to his credit Russ built his own empire from the ground up, and if nothing else you have to respect the drive, talent, and ambition. This one like the first three records isn’t necessarily flameworthy, yet it’s far from trash and definitely a decent album cut.
“I'm pullin' up at 3, this car just ain't the same without you here next to me, all I wanna do is ride slow” I like the change of pace but honestly this could be a SKIP!!!
“Who am I to judge? I know I got hoes too, but you're the only girl I wanna get close to, girl, I meant every word that I told you, I feel like I don't know you, but I know you” Decent verses but a lackluster hook should have left this on the cutting room floor. Not a skip and not necessarily filler but nothing to write home about either.
Do It Myself
“I don't need her, I don't need him, fuck it, I'll do it myself, no one's got this, no one's got that, fuck it, I'll do it myself, everyone scared, everyone pussy, fuck it, I'll do it myself, everyone watch, just keep looking, fuck it, I'll do it myself” I respect it… cause Russ really did it all by himself… even still this isn’t quality enough to be on the album, this is definitely FILLER and although Russ should continue to ‘do it all by himself,’ he definitely needs to be more selective on what makes the final cut.
I Wanna Go Down With You
“I wanna go down, down, down, down, down with you” A nice change-up where Russ sounds like a blend of Tony Bennett and Bob Marley yet when it all comes together… you never needed to hear it… SKIP!!!!
Family and Friends
“Everybody know what's up with Russ, new sex symbol, plus he's rich, does it himself, that young boy lit, got a couple plaques, I just showed up, give me some time, no rush” … SMH SKIP!!!! Too many SKIPS he’s a talented artist but he needs an executive producer. This is mixtape quality so again… SKIP!
What They Want
“What they want, what they want, what they want, dollar signs, yeah, I know it's what they want, what they want, what they want, what they want, y'all ain't foolin' me at all” This one has hundreds of millions of views on YouTube and has garnered Russ some legitimate success, although truth be told I’m still not excited… not a skip but barely an album cut… unless this is the ceiling and the best that he can offer, in that case I’ll manage my expecations
“Yeah, I'ma get a jet, call it Netflix cause I'm done with commercials, yeah, Imma go diamond, but I still got love for my circle, yeah” ANOTHER SKIP!!!
No Turning Back
“Guess I'm finally right here, guess there's no turning back, pop star of the year, still a god with the raps” …….. “AND ANOTHER ONE” *DJ KHALED VOICE* …. smh SKIP!!!
“She's fallin in love now, losin control now, fightin the truth, tryin to hide, but I think it's alright, girl, yeah, I think it's alright, girl” Now this is more like it… a very smooth complete record that’s definitely album worthy and deserving of our attention. So far this is Russ at his best, and hopefully there’s more of this to come.
“Let's put the world on pause and get drunk off these city lights, I'm all about us tonight” Ok now Russ is heating up, this sounds like Drake from the Houstatlantavegas days… not mad at this, overall a decent album cut
Back To You
“Fell in love with a girl from PR, kept up online like PR, had me waitin like a DR, stretch her out in her room like ER” this one’s relatively smooth but after 15+ tracks already it’s starting to feel monotonous, not a SKIP but arguable filler and is debilitated by all the forgettable versions of this same record that came before it.
One More Shot
“We locked eyes from a distance, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I think I know what's missing, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah” SKIP!!! PLEASE SKIP THIS!!!
“I been climbin', the view's spectacular, even if I crash, I'd rather drive than be the passenger, slightly philosophical, I wanna die young as old as possible, ss of late, I been feelin' responsible” LMAO he really does sound like Drake when he raps… this sounds like every Drake record where he finally spits at the end of the album after singing all through it… same content, delivery, everything… yet probably not quite as clever yet that can be attributed to a lack of ghostwriters, in which case it’s clear that Russ has none considering he does it ‘all by himself.’ Ultimately this is some of the best rapping on the album even if it personally still doesn’t fuck-up-my-rewind-button
Pull The Trigger
“Pull the trigger, ain't nobody gonna do it for you, pull the trigger, don't hesitate, just shoot…” This one’s decent enough to vibe out to… not mad at this…
“Only time will tell but I been feelin' like it's my time, how long you gonna keep a star player on the sidelines? But, I'm the coach, guess God is the owner, guess I'm just waitin for that tap on my shoulder tellin me to go in, I'ma stop the game, blow the whistle like Snowden, young Terrell Owens, makin noise, still one of the greats though, I never RIP, I want MVP written on my gravestone” Decent outro that’s lowkey and with a few gems in it, good way to finally bring closure to this album
Overall respect to Russ for writing, producing, and engineering every aspect of his music, and true to form this album had NO FEATURES… albeit not at all to any J Cole results. In the end there’s some relative heat on here but it’s also about 8 records too long, and once you get past the fact that he’s a machine that’s good at everything, one might wonder if he’s truly great at anything after all. Though truth be told that’s probably too harsh in actuality, as there’s no doubt that Russ is supremely talented in all facets of making music, yet at this point it seems he needs to find himself and decide what story he’s been put here to tell.