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Album Review: Russ flaunts his success and gets personal on ‘Zoo’

Hip-hop artist Russ performs at Okeechobee Music Festival on March 3, 2017. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Last Friday, Russ released his second studio album, “Zoo.” This comes after his debut studio project, “There’s Really a Wolf,” went platinum last year.

Russ is a veteran in the hip-hop community despite recently finding mainstream success, and is known for producing, mixing, mastering, engineering and writing his own songs.

He also made a name for himself due to his controversial tweets about rappers and his criticism of magazines like XXL and Complex for not giving him attention as an artist.

However, Russ has still managed to garner a large fan base and is looking to capitalize on this with his latest album.

From the opening track, “The Flute Song” to the closing track, “F*** That,” he makes it clear that he will go after anyone, whether it be rappers or journalists, who has ever said anything negative about him. He claims the rappers to be a “bunch of crackheads and clowns” and calling the reporters “clickbait journalists.”

He also gets very cocky on tracks like “Last Forever,” a song that features Rick Ross and Snoop Dogg, and “Outlaw,” which flaunts his riches and highlights things such as how many girls he’s slept with and how he has provided for his family.

Throughout the album, Russ shows a more emotional side of him on five tracks, with his focus shifting to women. The tracks — “Missing You Crazy,” “Serious,” “Our Time,” “From a Distance” and “Keep It Pushin” — all share the same general message. They talk about how much Russ cares about a girl, but whether it be scheduling issues, the girl not taking him seriously or the fact that they have both decided to move on, he can’t make it work.

Russ also brings up his relationship with his father on numerous tracks, such as “Voicemail,” “Parkstone Drive,” “Begging You” and “Keep My Wits.” This is the only time we see Russ discussing anything personal besides his ambiguous relationships with unnamed women.

The topic of his father would seemingly be dedicated to a single song, but is brought up numerous times as if Russ is trying to keep reminding us that he and his dad have an up-and-down relationship.

In the end, “Zoo” doesn’t leave you with anything. The production isn’t anything special, the hooks are generic and nearly all the verses are about the same three topics: Russ’ success, his hate for other rappers and the industry, and girls he likes. The only time we see Russ discussing anything else is when he talks about his family and his relationship with his father.

Russ has had major success with many of his singles going gold and platinum. But from this album, he doesn’t sound like an artist deserving of these accolades. Instead, he sounds like a carbon copy of what a modern rapper today should sound like — a label I’m sure Russ doesn’t want or agree with.


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