Uncut: An interview with Russ Hall, Cleveland's next poet
Today, Cleveland rapper Russ Hall released his fifth album, “Beautiful,” to the masses. After listening to it for a few hours, I have to say this album is sharp.
The project features eight songs with guest verses from other local artists like Tell a Tale Vell, Jah Rashid and Sumrr. It was produced by Epik The Dawn, Ismael Jam, Lebanon Don Beats, BEATSINMYBACKPACK, Juno, Blutop and YSP.
With a rich boom bap style and a unique flow that can change at the drop of a dime, I think Hall can be the next big thing out of Cleveland. With that said, I had to known what it was like making this project so below is a short Q&A I did with the upcoming star from Cleveland.
How long have you been working on this album and what was your process making it?
1. I started working on Beautiful at the beginning of May 2020. With everything going on in the world I just wanted to collect my thoughts and put a project together. The process was very simple, I used everything life had thrown my way whether it was good or bad and made the best music I could out of it. Looking at the brighter side of things, it's always Beautiful.
What was your inspiration behind it?
2. The inspiration came from my family, it always does.
You named it Beautiful, why?
3. The title is a metaphor of life. Like I stated earlier, no matter what you're going through, sunshine will always come in the morning. Take your lumps in stride, live life to the max because we only get one shot at this. Make it beautiful, make it count.
What's striking to me, is that the cover art reminds me of a stripped down version of the old albums rappers used to make with the diamond writing, what was your inspiration behind the cover?
4. I'm glad you could correlate the cover with the old school rap vibes, I was a huge fan of Cash Money Records growing up so the diamond font was my way of paying homage to the greats. It also played into the meaning of the project as well. New beginnings, new life, shiny things, coming out bigger, brighter and better after the storm.
From the songs I've heard I notice a lot of jazzy/Funk Boom Bap, what drew you to that sound?
5. I love rapping over those types of instrumentations, I believe as an artist you have to find your sound and what works to enhance that sound while still experimenting. I feel like I have a jazzy vibe to everything I do, I live in that realm so it works.
Do you prefer old school rap or new school? Old School being MF Doom, Biggie and Jay-Z and New school being Kendrick. YG and Mac?
6. I prefer both, a good balance is needed. My favorite rapper of all time is the Notorious B.I.G and I tend to lean towards the Drakes, Kendrick Lamars and Isaiah Rashads of the world nowadays, including everything in between. I love hip hop so if it sounds good, count me in.
One particular track that stook out to me was Never Know, what's the story behind it?
7. Ahh, Never Know, funny you say that. This is actually my personal favorite on the project. The inspiration behind this track came from my immediate circle of homies, I just love the fact that everyone is honing in on their god given abilities to provide a better life for themselves and their families. 2020 has constantly shown us that nothing is forever and we must never take things for granted. So do what you want to do, because you never know when ya diiiie.
When you make your music, do the lyrics come first or the beat?
8. I'm a beat first type of artist. When the beat catches my attention I can literally write a song in 30 minutes to an hour. It's a BEAUTIFUL thing lol.
Who are your biggest hip-hop idols?
9. My biggest hip hop idols would have to be Notorious B.I.G, AZ, Drake, Schoolboy Q and Wiz Khalifa.
What are five songs (other than your own) that you've been bumping non-stop?
10. 1. Reason & SchoolBoy Q - Pop Shit
2. Dre Walton - Checks
3. T- Rell from da Zel - Harder
4. Dave East - Menace
5. Larry June ft. Curren$y - Oranges on a Jet
Peep the album below:
Before writing this article, I listened to three songs off of this project and I immediately wondered if Hall was signed. When asked he replied: "Not at the moment, but stay on the lookout ;)"
When he does get signed, stay tuned to the blog, because I will not miss when that comes.