Russ – “ZOO” review

Russ is a 25 year old rapper, producer & singer-songwriter from Secaucus, New Jersey. He’s released a total of 11 mixtapes on SoundCloud from 2011 up to 2014, eventually landing a contract with Columbia Records in 2016. He made his full-length debut last year with There’s Really a Wolf & within the past 16 months since that release, he has become one of hip hop’s most polarizing figures in recent memory. Primarily because of being a “fake activist” against drugs & then there’s an unignorable interview resurfaced from 2016 where he literally said “we need to blame producers for all the wack music today”. All of that aside, I‘ve decided to give this sophomore album of his a fair chance.

Things actually start off with “The Flute Song”, where Russ talks about doing whatever he wants when he wants over a flute-tinged trap beat from Scott Storch. It’s actually not bad at all, but I really just don’t understand why an immensely talented keyboardist & producer like Scott has been collaborating with Russ so much lately. The next track “Outlaw” compares himself to just that over a soulful boom bap beat from Russ himself (who of course produces the rest of the album solely) while the song “Kill Them All” is essentially a temper tantrum in response to the backlash he has received with a generically gritty trap beat. The track “Missing You” is a painful breakup anthem with an acoustic trap beat while the song “Voicemail” is basically him begging this girl to get back to him over an acoustic boom bap beat. The track “Parkstone Drive” is about never giving up over a laidback instrumental while the song “Begging You” is basically Russ telling himself to staying strong over a somber yet punchy beat. The hook is hilarious bad, too.

The track “Serious” is a simp anthem with a moody instrumental while the song “Keep My Wits” egotistically talks about his success over a nondescript beat. The track “Our Time” talks about a long distance relationship over some plinky keys & hard hitting drums while the song “From a Distance” tells this woman to look for someone who has more free time over something Drake would’ve sung over on VIEWS. The track “Last Forever” is about longevity over some rich keys & faint hi-hats, but the only things that give it credit are the verses from Snoop Dogg & Rick Ross. The song “Keep It Pushin’” is a sappy description of a teenage relationship with a moody beat & the closer “Fuck That” is another temper tantrum over a beat that generically sounds like something Dr. Dre would’ve produced in the early 2000s.

This is slightly better than anything he’s done before, but that’s not saying much. The production is basic & when Russ isn’t telling melodramatic relationship stories, he’s either being self-centered or lashing out in a fit of bitter rage.

Score: 1/5