Atlanta rapper Russ is one of the more polarizing rappers making music today. He operates firmly in the vein of other singer/rappers like Drake and Post Malone, but where they’ve mainly engendered praise and mainstream acclaim, Russ has earned an impressive level of success on the strength of an intensely loyal hardcore base of fans who’ve come together to defend him from the seemingly nonstop online chorus of “F*ck Russ.” While his latest release, Just In Case, a three-song EP comprised of throwaways from his September album Zoo, may not do much to engender new fans, it serves his base and for Russ, that’s what works.
The three songs, “Nobody Knows,” “Fix This,” and “Alright,” which you can hear below, continue his streak of introspective, emotionally vulnerable reflections, bouncing back and forth between emphatic rhythmic rap delivery and heart-on-his-sleeve crooning over downtempo, mainly acoustic beats. If you’ve heard Zoo or There’s Really A Wolf, you know what you’re getting — fans will love it, and Russ’ loudly outspoken cadre of haters will hit the snooze button.
For what it’s worth, I really appreciate a rapper who sticks to his guns the way Russ does, even in light of overwhelming criticism. He wants to be taken seriously as an artist, and with so many rappers running away from the label or chasing trends or flooding the market to manipulate streaming numbers, it’s nice to see a fiercely independent artist fight to maintain is artistic integrity, even if it isn’t for everybody. As far as the “f*ck Russ” chants go, I guess it’s just another aspect of the meme culture that dominates the landscape these days — no one’s safe from it, not even fan favorites like J. Cole.