The prolific rapper shares insights into his hustle—the numbers, the strategy, the business know-how. Plus he gets personal when explaining the power of delusion and vulnerability when it comes to being an artist in this day and age.
Following the launch of Best Advice: The Podcast with last week’s double drop of Jeezy and Charli XCX, this week we’re stoked to drop Russ’ episode. The New Jersey-born, Atlanta-based rapper was the very first artist recorded for this series, because aside from being one of the most prolific creators in the game, he’s also a business savvy entrepreneur who is involved in all aspects of the creative hustle and beyond.
At the moment for instance, he’s dropping new music, incubating a hair care line, and brewing some big moves in the tech space (keep your eyes peeled). Plus he’s also lending his support when it comes to criminal justice reform, teaming up with The Weldon Project to encourage President Biden to issue pardons to individuals still serving federal prison time for cannabis offenses as states continue to legalize and profit. (Atlanta rapper Terrell “Ralo” Davis is currently Russ and Weldon’s focus).
Point being, he’s a busy guy, and this year, as he ramps up to the 2022 world tour in support of Shake the Snow Globe, he’s going to be around. He’s the master of staying in the public consciousness; he never drops off.
This is just one of the things we talk about in his episode of Best Advice. We also get into the nitty-gritty of analyzing Spotify for Artists data, how to negotiate social media, the power of vulnerability and the wrong and right ways to tour. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—it’s worth tuning in for the advice passed on by his bud John Mayer, alone.
Listen to Russ’ episode, plus some of his key takeaways below.
Highlights from Russ’ Best Advice episode
Always be in competition with yourself.
I think part of me is so prolific because I think I can always beat myself. The reason why I go into the studio every day is because I think that I haven't made my best song yet. ’Cause my best song is always my newest song. As soon as I'm done with it sometimes before I'm even finished with it, I'm like, okay, but I can do better than this. So it's really the love of the game that keeps me coming back. But it's an insatiable thing. I'm going to always think that I can beat it.
When making music, being vulnerable is so important to the process. Don’t let society’s standards stop you from living your truth.
I was always vulnerable. And that was always what I liked about music. Even when I was first starting making music, I was always just an open book. I think men have a very big machismo issue with being vulnerable. It's like soft and I just never gave a shit about that. I loved listening to the acoustic versions of these punk songs. Rock songs. Like I didn't like all the heavy drums and all the crazy stuff, but I would go get the acoustic version and sing along.
There is a right way to tour, do it correctly so that you can gain real traction and an understanding of your fanbase.
I don't advocate for being a lifelong opener. I've seen a lot of artists who're always opening for someone because they're too scared to go out on your own. You can gain fans by opening. I'm not saying you can, but at some point in order to start really building your empire and your foundation, you’ve got to go see what you're worth, and that's where the hard tickets thing comes into. A lot of artists just want to do club shows but that’s a soft ticket, meaning there was going to be 500 people there tonight anyway.
You see a lot of artists like that on the 'Gram and it looks cool, it looks like you're lit. But it's not people really spending money to come see you. So I advise artists to put up a tour where it's just you, it's hard tickets, it's real venues. And even if you go to try to do SOBs in New York, which is 250 cap, and 50 people come out, cool. At least you now know that you, Joe Blow, are worth 50 tickets in New York. Then you go to LA and maybe you do 100 tickets there. And then you repeat: you put out more music, more videos, you come back and now maybe you can do 200 people in SOBs, and now maybe at 300 in LA and so on and so forth.