On Saturday, August 11, hip-hop turned 45. For a genre so young, hip-hop has branched out and evolved en masse with developments in every avenue, from the flows and stylings of rap music to the way hip-hop culture influences every level of popular media. Everyone wants a piece of hip-hop culture, and for good reason.
To celebrate hip-hop’s birthday and help rap fans trace their favorite artists’ hip-hop lineage, we had Russ break down the impact of his favorite classic rap songs. Tracks from 50 Cent's debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and early Eminem cuts helped shape both Russ’ style and his love for rap music.
“Those two were the coolest people in the world to me,” he tells DJBooth with a laugh.
DJBooth's full interview with Russ, who is set to release his new album, Zoo, on September 7, follows below.
What's your favorite classic hip-hop track?
So hard to choose, but it’s definitely something off of Get Rich or Die Tryin’, or early Eminem. Like, “The Way I Am” days.
When did you first hear Em?
I was like seven when I got introduced to Eminem. It was via videos on TV. I was so intrigued, I think, by just everything about it. I was hooked for sure. Then 50 came out and I vividly remember watching the “In Da Club” video for the first time. Those two were the coolest people in the world to me [laughs].
What makes those two your favorite?
They’re what got me hooked on hip-hop.
How did they influence your rap style?
I always appreciated how well they were in the pocket—their melodic awareness is unbelievable.
What do they mean to you now?
I relate to “The Way I Am” a lot right now. That energy resonates with me super heavy at this point in my career.
Which one of your songs do you hope becomes a classic?
I hope everything I do is considered classic at some point. All the songs mean a lot to me, so it’s gonna be dope to see how everything plays out. Time reveals everything so I’m excited.