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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Kidd Russell
Monday, September 15, 2008

Kidd Russell is an artist who first caught my ear in 2006 with his debut LP, Untied. Since then I’ve listened to him grow as an emcee, and after seeing the video for his latest single, “Dear Shooter,” which is off of his upcoming album, The Dash, I finally decided it was time to sit down with him to talk about his life and career. During our conversation Russell opened up about why he raps, the inspiration for “Dear Shooter,” and how The Dash represents life. This is an interview two years in the making and it’s safe to say it was well worth the wait.

Adam Bernard: My first question will either be the easiest or the hardest question of the entire interview. Why do you rap?
Kidd Russell: It’s both (the hardest and the easiest question) because as an independent artist you’re tested daily. Imagine working nine to five and then with whatever free time you have left in the day after eating, sleeping and commuting you’re creating a career that continues to grow and you’re financing your career out of your own pocket. Some nights I’m up till two or three in the morning, sleep a couple hours, and do it all over again. So you question yourself daily like “why am I doing this? I should just get a job and call it a life,” but then you book a huge show, receive a touching MySpace comment about your music, film your first video, or something small happens that feeds you to keep going. I love Hip-Hop, shit I love music, it’s my drug. I could easily stay up 48 hours in a studio without even feeling tired. Music just keeps me going. I love to create because it’s my hope for the future. That’s why I write songs the way I do, like “Dear Shooter” and “Paradise,” that tell stories of overcoming odds. My heroes were all Hip-Hop artists growing up, I just hope I can reach the level where I get to work with the legends I admire.

Adam Bernard: In your mind, what should good rap music do to, or for, a listener?
Kidd Russell: Inspire, entertain, help you party, make you dance, motivate, relax you, make you think and enjoy your life more. Hip-Hop’s been the soundtrack to my life, so good rap should be a part of who you are.

Adam Bernard: With you using the first name Kidd I have to ask, what parts of your personality do you feel still represent the kid in you?
Kidd Russell: Growing up I was always the kid who gave nicknames to everyone and I really wanted to have a name that represented imagination and was close to my own. Kidd basically means never stop thinking like a kid, it makes life so much easier. Also my real name is Kip Russell so it’s pretty close anyways.

Adam Bernard: I’ve been paying attention to your work since your 2006 album, Untied. In what ways do you feel you’ve grown artistically since that effort?
Kidd Russell: Good Lord. Untied was a great album. I learned a lot about the industry and a lot about what kind of artist I wanted to be. Your first album is your baby. I’ll always be proud of that album, but as an artist your career is all about growth. Lyrically Untied is no where near the realm of were I want be. You can already tell I upped the ante with The Dash, The first single, “Dear Shooter,” has been the biggest of my career and taken me from being just another independent artist to a stand out regionally and hopefully with the video I will break out nationally. The Dash is full of organically sampled beats and live band produced records. I want to push the envelope with this album; nothing but the most creative beats and songs I could come up with. I was also able to showcase different styles (on this album), from a Twista type machine gun flow to more in-depth story telling. It’s all about growth.

Adam Bernard: You mentioned your latest single, “Dear Shooter.” Talk to me about it. What events inspired you to write this song?
Kidd Russell: I had the idea for the song around the time of the Virginia Tech shootings. I was driving in the car thinking some one has to talk to these shooters before they get to the point where they pick up a gun. I muttered something like “Dear Shooter” and kept repeating it. That was the seed for the song. After a couple months searching for the right beat I was ready to hit the studio. I started recording around February of ‘08. I literally finished the song the same day of Northern Illinois University shooting. I was in the car like holy shit I’m glad I recorded it. In fact, the teacher and one of the students in the “Dear Shooter” video are from the NIU classroom. Their story is amazing and tragic. That’s the point of this song, to talk to people so they can understand the consequences of their actions and to give both perspectives of the story. You should see how many youth programs are now using this song to relate to their kids. I’m proud that people have used it as a tool to reach out to the youth.

Adam Bernard: How does the single tie in with be-ology?
Kidd Russell: be-ology is one of my sponsors and they are helping with the promotion of “Dear Shooter.” They supplied the cast and crew of the video with shirts that have phrases like be.hopeful and be.peaceful on them. I’m not much of a fashion guy so I like the simplicity of their shirts and design as well as the messages they stand for. They have worked with Oprah Winfrey and many other big names. 20% of the proceeds of the be.hopeful and be.peaceful shirts go to anti-gun violence charities such as Ceasefire.com.

Adam Bernard: What other topics do you cover on The Dash? It can’t all be that intense, right?
Kidd Russell: Every tombstone has a birth date and a death date on it. What’s in the middle is a dash. I always found it funny that that little dash represents our entire life. The question of this album is what are you going to do with your dash? So this album covers life, ambition, fear, drugs, partying, love and death. I have a song called “Infection,” it’s about the spread of hopelessness which I believe is worse than AIDS, Cancer, any disease. The album also has some lighter material, like the song called “Forced to Work, Born to Shop,” which is about women’s shopping behavior {laughs}, and drinking songs like “Could it be the Juice?” I think you’ll dig it!

Related Links

Website: kiddruss.com
be-ology: beologyonline.com
Cease Fire: ceasefirechicago.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:31 AM  
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