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Rapper D Russ is Wrinkle Free

Photo by Jonathan McKinley

D Russ, born in Chicago as David Russell, moved to Phoenix in the fourth grade. He stands tall and lanky and confidently delivers a smooth flow.

I first heard Russ at a R.E.I.G.N. creative arts showcase in October 2011, and became an instant fan. His lyrics are clever and well thought out. He gets the crowd involved and everyone seemed to love him. I was surprised to find out this was his first live performance.

Even more surprising is that the 24 year old has only been in the hip-hop scene for the last couple years.

“…just dabbling on and off, different programs on the computer and what not,” says Russ. “Finally got some better equipment and programs and started focusing more.”

It all started at a house party when people began to freestyle and encouraged Russ to join in. After that, a friend, who had recorded music in the past, pushed Russ to continue and make his own music.

Although Russ enjoys creating music, he views his future through realistic eyes. He graduated from Arizona State University in May with a degree in Urban Planning and intends to pursue a career that utilizes his education.

“I never thought I’d be making rap tunes, but it’s fun,” Russ says. “The likelihood of this ever becoming a career is so slim… so this isn’t an end-all-be-all, but it’s something fun to do now that school is over… keeps the mind active.”

Thus far, most of Russ’ exposure has come from R.E.I.G.N. Artist Network, a non-profit organization that strives to give underground artists a platform to express their talents to the community.

Russ and R.E.I.G.N. founder Ruben Hinojos have known each other since grade school. They attended different high schools but reconnected during college and, as Russ says, “the rest is history.”

On Feb. 10, Russ released his first album, Wrinkle Free, available for free download on Bandcamp. He says many artists gain notoriety from the Internet, so he might as well put his music online for people to hear.

“I’m not trying to get a huge record deal or anything, but if someone happens to offer me one, can’t say I’d decline it.”

The album was recorded in his closet, with almost half of the beats and production done by Russ himself.

“I’ll make the track and then just load it as an instrumental into my phone, then just continually have it playing in my headphones,” says Russ. “If I happen to write a couple rhymes down, keep working, jot ‘em down, keep working, so it’s kind of a scattered process.”

It’s likely this process is what Russ employed to win The Spec‘s first trial of The Beat Experiment with his track “D.I.Y.”

Check out The Spec’s video interview with D Russ, including a freestyle and “finish the sentence” game below…

 

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