Get Out of Your Way
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Russ is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, and author from Atlanta, Georgia. He produced beats for around six years before he attempted to record himself rapping. Russ is known for his songs being produced, mixed, mastered, engineered, written, and performed by himself. Russ’ twelfth studio album was released by Columbia Records and certified platinum in 2018.
It’s All in Your Head is an exploration of how Russ walks his own path, at his own pace. Russ proved that he didn’t need a major label to surpass over a billion streams on Spotify/Apple Music. Subsequently, he has achieved significant success. Russ was on Forbes’ 2019 “30 Under 30” and Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Cash Kings.” His tools for success have also helped him sell out arenas around the globe and become one of the most popular and engaged rappers right now. His method was simple: love and believe in yourself and work hard no matter what. In this memoir, Russ inspires readers to walk to their individual rhythms and beat their biggest obstacles: themselves.
Russ was confident of becoming a well-known artist from a young age. Those around him never felt he was going to be something. Russ had worked in the music business for six years and had written 80 songs before his first hits in 2015. These hits made a massive difference to his life. Before then, he was earning just $200 per month.
What separated Russ from all other musicians was that he persisted. He had a strong inner self-confidence and resolve to support him through the most challenging times. He continued writing new music, improving his skills, and studying the music business with huge intensity. He finally made it and is currently a very popular musician. His music, which has been watched on YouTube hundreds of millions of times, has made him millions of dollars.
Self-Confidence Underpins Success
Russ’ confidence allowed him to take the risks required to be successful. His success came on the back of him deciding he had to do something to fulfill his dream. He arranged an active campaign whereby he and his fans continually contacted an MTV executive on Twitter. They pleaded with this executive to just look at his music. He eventually agreed. The executive ended up loving the music and decided to put it on MTV. Russ knew he had to pursue his passion to get what he wanted. Relying on his confidence, Russ trusted he could achieve his goals.
As this example illustrates, sharing your aspirations with the world – and leveraging the influence of social media – is essential. Russ’ dreams spread on Twitter in the same way they spread in real life. Once, he tweeted that “Millon dollars a beat” was being created. At this point, he was actually completely broke and had hardly anything. However, this mindset was crucial to his success. Instead of saying he would make a large sum of money one day, he was already doing what he wanted. This convinced his mind that he was already successful, and success breeds more success. Hence, Russ recommends that you dream of the reality that you want. You can still dream, even though you have no money and cannot afford your rent. Plus, make sure you share your dreams with the world to help others realize what you are working for. Ambition is not embarrassing.
Chapter 2 – Ignore External Measures of Success
In 2015, Russ performed in Tampa, Florida. There were only 40 people present. Because Russ had no money, he had to lodge in a shabby hotel alone. This might seem like a disheartening experience for a person who considers himself to be a star. However, Russ didn’t experience it that way. He was genuinely excited to do what he loved, which was to play music. Russ was not concerned about whether the crowd was 40 or 40,000. He gave everything during this performance, and the experience encouraged him to write another album.
In reality, many of us never really consider what our true passions are. We’re very accustomed to reasoning in terms of limitations and fearing what could go wrong. We don’t work in industries that embrace crazy dreams. Plus, ‘realistic’ families and friends are likely to declare their objections to our dreams. Therefore, to chase what you love, you need to silence those critical voices and substitute them with unabashed self-belief.
Just like Russ, you need to play the game. Do not look at your dreams and imagine what could have been. Instead, grasp every opportunity to chase your dream. Russ had to wait six years to receive the musical credit he desired. We now know that he was looking forward to success on the other side. Russ would always commit to his ability, even if that meant singing in a Florida bar in a half-empty room.
Accept Support From Others
“Trust is easy to give but hard to keep also it’s hard to achieve but easy to lose” – Russ
Russ’ Family Were Highly Supportive
As well as harnessing strong self-belief, we must also strive to surround ourselves with people who inspire and support us. Russ’ family offered a huge inspiration for Russ’ love of music. They provided the foundation for him to succeed and utilize his talents. His parents often played music in the home. Plus, his dad would always sing inside the car and, just like an imaginary drum kit, softly tap the steering wheel.
When Russ was still a kid, he visited his grandfather. Pop Pop taught Russ how to play his first guitar chords. Pop Pop also bought Russ his own guitar for his 14th birthday. This moment also kickstarted Russ’ career in music.
Whenever Russ was low and lacking motivation, Russ’ brother was always there to pick him up. He would encourage Russ to stop allowing self-doubt to creep in. Russ started composing music. Deep down, he knew that his passion was for rap music. However, he didn’t believe his voice was good enough. His brother suggested that he try it anyway.
This little bit of motivation was the springboard Russ needed to start making rap songs. At first, they sounded dreadful. The most important thing, though, was that Russ had at least got the confidence to make an effort. Gradually he got stronger.
Choose Good Friends
We cannot choose our family. Russ has been lucky enough to have a loving family. However, we can choose our friends. Russ made sure that he surrounded himself with strangers, as he wanted to meet a wide range of people. Bugus was the inspiration for this approach. He was Russ’ closest friend and helped him by trying to make music by his side. Having a friend who shared similar passions acted as a natural motivation for Russ. Russ and Bugus are continually pushing each other to reach higher standards.
Based on his experiences, Russ recommends checking the people you have around you. Do these people support you in the pursuit of your dreams? Try to remove friends who are limiting you. If you can find friends who are willing to join you on your creative journey, you will appreciate this creative journey more.
Utilize Positive Thinking and Hard Work
Professional athletes slam dunking on the basketball court or easily making a hole-in-one will seem particularly confident. They nearly make it appear simple. This supposed ease contradicts the hours and hours of work. These are hours of practice in the morning and days of annoyance as shots are not hit. Self-confidence is the grain that has potential, but hard work helps our dreams develop.
Russ is a perfect example of the importance of hard work. Between the years 2011 and 2016, Russ produced over 80 songs on eleven albums. During that time, he got scant recognition. However, Russ continued working. Though he made several errors, he continued improving his art. Ultimately, he got better.
Russ and Bugus have set themselves the task of learning about the business side of music. The records of famous rappers were analyzed. They learned how well-known artists created their music and how they treated their careers. They were looking for clues to prove what made people love music.
Russ researched records for bestsellers and discovered the best-known music was the first music on an album daily. By recording one-song albums, he chose to make the most of this reality, and he progressed to record six months of songs. Then, weekly he started releasing a song on the TuneCore online music website. The tactic was successful. Russ was only paid $620 on the site in June 2015. However, that number rose to $102,000 in the following year.
Nowadays, Russ performs with a reliable swagger in sold-out stadiums. But, just like the basketball player who spends hours of practice controlling a slam dunk, Russ has worked hard to gain control. With hours of demanding work and tactical analysis, he supported his dreams.
Develop New Skills and Autonomy
“Never make a promise that you can’t really keep it. But if you did in any case try to keep it anyway, whatever hard, troublesome or even painful.” – Russ
Avoid Selling Yourself Short
Say you’re a young musician in the music industry. You worked hard on your talent, and then you’ve got a solid album. Suddenly, a whole new world will sail – one with ads, royalty, and deals. You’re completely overwhelmed. In such a scenario, you may be genuinely tempted to delegate your business discussions to a manager or record company. This may alleviate burdens and doubts. However, this may also deny you something important: responsibility for your career.
In 2014, Russ refused two offers from record labels. Russ made this decision despite only raising $200 in that month. He knew that he would be more self-reliant on his own skills by making this decision. Subsequently, he would develop more. This technique has shown that Russ is one of the few popular artists still entitled to much of his own songs. He would have had a much less pleasurable contract if he had negotiated an agreement before he had negotiated power.
Do Not Compromise on Your Autonomy
“A full pure heart with an empty pocket is much better than a full pocket of money with no heart” – Russ
Russ does not see economic independence as the only important form of autonomy. He has been committed to creating music and recording it on his own since he started producing music at 14. In his parents’ basement, Russ acquired a temporary recording studio to escape the financial burden of renting one. This meant that he could compose songs day or night without paying for anybody’s hours but his own.
Russ’s artistic control was provided by the tradition of recording and mixing his own music. Both he and Bugus mixed songs from Bugus’ first album (that Russ was producing). Although he’s very talented, the actual sound they needed couldn’t beat the likes of MixedByAli. Hence, Russ decided to learn how to blend. It took him some time to grasp the technology, but he could mix the songs exactly how he had envisioned.
Russ’ career illustrates how much you can achieve. Rather than giving the jobs to experts, you can learn the understanding and skills you need. All teachers that you need can now be accessed online – mostly free of charge. The only tool you need is significant determination and a desire to learn.
Reset Your Mind and Environment
Take Time to Reboot
Although Russ prepared for his life’s success, it was still a momentous modification to his life. He was only responsible for himself at one time. Now he was firmly in the public eye.
His bluntness on social media and his ardent confidence caused suspicion and controversy. For example, in 2017, Russ said that he would win 10 Grammys in the following year’s ceremony. However, in 2018, his tweet became a parody. He did not win any Grammys.
Having your dreams mocked is painful. Furthermore, Russ saw rumors spread online about him. Russ started to become depressed as he attempted to counter his virtual critics. As you can expect, this was in vain.
Russ knew he had lost his concentration on his greatest passion: music. He took an exit from social media to reboot. He also stopped tours and rejected all requests for interviews. Instead, he spent time relaxing with his family and friends who loved him and supported him. Russ could reconnect his exceptional self-confidence by taking a break from the public eye. He discovered it was not wrong to be vulnerable, and he exposed his soul. He knew he could make his vulnerabilities his strengths. He also knew he had no control over what people were spreading about him.
Move Away From the Public Eye
When insulted by people on Twitter, Russ was initially so ashamed that he had to erase his original tweet. After his reboot, he would always stand by the tweet. More importantly, he believed in himself and had the strength of his convictions.
Moving away from the public eye helped Russ appreciate musical dividends. He had already created new songs on the second day of his break. He has been better able to use the energy of writing angry Twitter posts to compose musical notes. Russ realized that breakdowns are awful, but they can also be a positive experience. His breakdown offered the opportunity to validate what he believed in and to recover his enthusiasm and renewed focus.
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