LaRussell closes out a very, very busy year with a great West Coast rap throwback that gives glimpses of a motivated, charismatic artist

Release date: December 22, 2023 | Independent/Good Compenny | Instagram | Twitter | Purchase

A lot of people are all about the grind mindset. I think there’s a lot of problems with that sort of mentality, but sometimes it’s the only option we got. When it comes to music or art in general, the context helps shift thoughts a bit. Why would an artist drop seven fucking full-length projects in a calendar year? I would certainly hope it’s for personal fulfillment and/or sense of self and the craft rather than some label’s absolutely ridiculous expectations.

This is where we sit with LaRussell, a rapper from Vallejo, CA that I just discovered in late December when Instagram actually did a cool thing and put a video clip for his song “How Could I Not?” as an ad in my feed. Featuring Guapdad 4000, it showed a West Coast dude doing what the West Coast does best: vibe, and hard. The bones of G-funk and Bay Area hyphy are still being used to build up new, exciting legacies for artists in recent decades, and keep established greats doing cool shit and staying relevant.

LaRussell, vocally and kind of lyrically, is seated somewhere between DJ Quik, E-40, and SOB X RBE – makes sense since the latter two are also from Vallejo. LaRussell first and foremost channels a more laid-back and chill vibe along those lines though. MOTION is aptly titled, embodying a nice-ass drive through California, slow and low with modern throwback production to fit that sort of aesthetic. No song sees the three-minute mark which keeps the album short and economical – a smart move, and I can imagine a necessity when you’re doing as much work as him.

“Pops For President” is one of my favorite tracks which gives us a glimpse of what the rapper’s all about with defining lines like ‘I pledge allegiance to my ni**as and my mama‘, ‘I like my deals six figures with a comma‘, and ‘I hit the stu’, I could’ve went and watched the Lakers/I made half my first songs off an Acer‘ along with more relatable bars that accentuate his struggle to get where he is now. It’s a bit of a more somber moment on MOTION because LaRussell‘s digging deep to lace the rhymes with his emotions and experience. A song like “Welp” on the other hand is more of a shit-talking jam with bouncing bass and crisp snare claps embedded in the beat. It’s got some of my favorite lines too: ‘If I say ‘fuck ya shit’, that’s how I felt/And if ya in your feelings about it, I’m like ‘welp”.

The title track that pushes the album off the dock is another great one with solid-ass production from Link+Up using deep, gurgling synths. It features Bla$ta, a North Richmond rapper who reminds me a bit of YG with the vocal inflection and confident delivery, a great complement to LaRussell‘s nursery rhyme-esque flow in the middle of his verse (the video below only has LaRussell‘s part, a common occurrence in his videos which are similarly numerous). “Dalai Lama” is another strong entry with funny bars like ‘Hoppin’ out that bitch in broad day, they wavin’ hi/If I didn’t wave back, it’s all love, was prolly high‘. “Outstanding!” has an awesome descending bassline that feels so classic G-funk, like it’s from a Warren G album or Dr. Dre‘s The Chronic (you know, the only one that matters). I don’t know much about Link+Up, but it’s clear he’s an astute student of this shit.

I won’t lie and say MOTION is a paragon of experimental production or has the hardest bars of the year because neither are obviously true, but what’s captured on here is a casual fun that I love. I liken it to Denzel Curry‘s ZUU tape where he abandoned the grander concepts of his LPs and instead paid tribute to where he’s from, playing with regional influence and sound to build a damn good project like they were sonic LEGO at his whim. MOTION is LaRussell‘s twenty-ninth album since coming on the scene in 2018. Absolutely fucking ridiculous, but it’s indicative of the kind of person LaRussell is. Here he is spitting his shit again and again, across hundreds of songs, collabing with single producers frequently (you can thank Link+Up for all the beats on MOTION), and hasn’t seem to run out of steam yet. Like, dude is almost singlehandedly outdoing the boys in Griselda Records with output which I thought was literally impossible – he’s approaching the tsunami-like overwhelming prolificness of Viper, for better or worse.

Oversaturation is a thing so while I can’t promise that every single project LaRussell dropped is worth looking into – even if you had the time – I can say for sure that MOTION is as nice an entry point as you can ask for. It was for me. Its non-committal nature means you can jump in and out, add select songs to a playlist of yours, cruise on the PCH (or similar highway) while bumping this, work out with it, whatever. One of LaRussell‘s strengths is a profound approachability and his work ethic alone is inspiring. If this dude can drop seven fully-fledged albums in 2023, surely I can do all the things I wanna do in this new year, right? …Right? Maybe it’s best to just go at our own pace and not compare to others with all due respect to the game.

David Rodriguez

David Rodriguez

"I came up and so could you, and fuck the boys in blue" - RMR

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