Russ is a 26 year old rapper, producer & singer-songwriter from Secaucus, New Jersey who’s released a total of 11 mixtapes on SoundCloud from 2011 up to 2014. He wound up signing Columbia Records in 2016 & made his full-length debut last year with There’s Really a Wolf, quickly becoming one of hip hop’s most polarizing figures in recent memory. Primarily because of being a “fake activist” against drugs & then there’s his infamous 2016 interview with DJ Vlad the culture vulture where he literally said “we need to blame producers for all the wack music today”. His 2018 follow-up ZOO kinda caught my interest due to “The Flute Song”, but the end result of it being taken over by this annoyingly bitter demeanor. However, my morbid curiosity got the best of me for this new album based on the features & the production credits. Will he finally wow me? Let’s find out.
The opener “NEED A MINUTE” is actually ok as Russ talks about what he’s achieved so far over this mellow acoustic instrumental & while the following song “GUESS WHAT” has a vibrant instrumental from Boi-1da, the bragging on here is more egotistical than charming & the Rick Ross verse is pretty weak. “A LOT MORE” also produced by Boi-1da has a more woozier sound to it with Russ’ verses about having more to accomplish sounding completely genuine & while I can appreciate the uptempo beat on “CAN’T GO ON”, it’s theme about breaking up with this woman is melodramatic to me. The song “ASSHOLE” is a temper tantrum about why people don’t like him similar to that on ZOO backed with a redundant Bugus verse whereas the track “NIGHTTIME” is less of an interlude & more of a poorly-delivered relationship ballad. Then there’s the Kiana Ledé-duet “ALL TO YOU”, which is reminiscent to Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello’s “Bad Things”.
The alcohol anthem “SHOTS” doesn’t have the invigorating delivery that I’d normally expect on songs like these despite the vibrant !llmind instrumental & despite the cloudy production on “PATIENCE”, it truly lives up to its title as it delivers more patience-testing relationship melodrama. Not only is “I THOUGHT YOU GOT ME” is about how this woman is unlike any other over a skeletal instrumental, but even Benny the Butcher’s verse on here isn’t all that good & this is coming from someone who’s been praising Griselda’s music for years. Devin the Dude easily has the best feature on the entire album on the song “FOOT ON THE GAS”, which is a decent tune about living life to the fullest. The acoustic/boom bap infused “MOMMA” is a tribute to Russ’ mother that sounds like it comes from the heart & despite the bouncy instrumental on the penultimate track “CIVIL WAR”, the whole comparison of a relationship to a civil war is just corny to me. Then it finishes with “BEST ON EARTH” with BIA, which is another “Bad Things” rip-off.
While it is titled Shake the Snow Globe, it’s not really rocking my world at all. There are aspects about this album that I enjoy more than previous efforts like how he brought some more outside producers to the table as well as more features, nothing about him continues to stick out to me. Especially as a performer & songwriter. I really don’t get how he rips on the current state of hip hop for being too materialistic when he‘s made gotten materialistic on cute himself in the past, including on this album. And while I‘m not against pop rap or love songs AT ALL, I just can’t imagine his take on it getting anyone in that mood.