HipHopWired.com: You’ve moved around a lot in your life, especially as a youngster. Were you an army brat?
Russ: No. My dad was just following work or where the money was at. He was working for advertising agencies and banks. We came to Georgia when I was 12-years old and have been here since.
HHW: What kind of impact do you think moving around so much had on you growing up, and even now in your music?
Russ: See, I think people have it f*cked up. No place has to rub off on you. People say I don’t sound like I’m from “Atlanta.” But that’s because I don’t give a f*ck about anything that’s going on there. I don’t f*ck with the “sound” of Atlanta, so it doesn’t influence me. I don’t know what a North Carolina or Kentucky sound is either. With technology, there is no regional music, it’s all blurred. I mean, look at A$AP Rocky. You can see people from California making trap sh*t. But I don’t think there is any such thing as “this kind of rap.” You have people from different countries getting on trap beats. Everybody is from everywhere now, it’s the internet country. You are from wherever you listen to music at. The mall and restaurants I go to have nothing to do with my music. That kind of thinking is outdated, that’s where I’m at with it. That’s why my music is resonating, you can’t pinpoint my sound so it reaches everywhere. I have a huge fanbase in Saudi Arabia because it’s easy for them to digest because it’s just good music. Technology has made all of us neighbors.
HHW: That’s what we were saying, it seems like you moving around so much has allowed you sound naturally universal, instead of trying to latch on to a regional sound, which seems to be difficult coming from a place like Atlanta with such a dominant influence lurking.
Russ: Right. But I just never found the “Atlanta sound” impressive. It’s not my cup of tea. I just go to the studio and make what I want to make. I’ve been using the same home studio since I was 17, making my own beats, so I don’t have people in my ear to really influence me. Before that I was just in the basement making music for 10 years, I’ve never really had anyone around to influence me. So yes, it was more natural for me more so than me purposely saying “f*ck Atlanta, I’m over here.” I just think it’s great to be different. Everybody is using the same beat and flow. No one is trying to be the best anymore, except for a few like Kendrick, Drake and J. Cole. A lot of these guys just sound like they are happy to be here, I’m trying to be the best. I’m going down with the best because that’s what I want to be. They’re cool with making party songs and getting a check. Thats cool, but are you trying to be Matt Harping or are you trying to be Kobe?