Russ working on songs for 2025

Russell Steven “Russ” Mohammed -
Russell Steven “Russ” Mohammed -

Russell Steven “Russ” Mohammed has already started working on material for 2025. Although he was only able to release one song for the Carnival 2024 period called Position, come next year, he hopes to release about three-four songs.

One might even be a chutney song, following in the footsteps of his father also named Russell Mohammed.

The 24-year-old, in a recent interview with Newsday, spoke about the challenges of releasing music as an upcoming artiste.

He was first inspired into music by his father who sang with crossover band JMC Triveni.

Born and raised in Florida, US, he would often see his father singing in bars and clubs.

“When I would go to his performances or his rehearsals, I realised I loved music. But at that young age, I was really shy to sing.”

At 12, he did an impromptu performance with this father and they sang a chutney song together.

He soon realised he liked drums. His parents (Mohammed and mother, Zanifa Ali) bought him a drum set. He even took drumming lessons from a tutor in New York.

Even while travelling with his parents he used his pencil as sticks on the car seats.

Although his father sang chutney, Russ realised he loved soca.

At 18, he tried singing and reached out to artiste Azaryah (formerly Flipo).

“I always had an interest in Azaryah because I liked his music. When I reached out to him through e-mail, he responded and said he was willing to work with me; write a song, do production and stuff.”

He did a song the following year; flew to TT, went into studio with Azaryah and did his first soca song called Luck Yuh Down in 2020.

That same year he did Everything Dutty which featured his father.

He felt he was now starting and wanted to do something with his father, he said.

His next song was 2021’s Front and Centre written by Darryl Gervais and Josiah Noray and produced by Romell “Smiddy” Smith and Daniel Thorne.

That year he took a break as he was juggling college and work. However, he did not give up on his music.

Russell Steven “Russ” Mohammed -

The opportunity for his next song came while in a WhatsApp group and working with Rai Entertainment Ltd. He met artiste Pronto through these and developed a friendship.

“Pronto came to New York and I met him and we became good friends. He wrote me a song called We Here, this was my next song after Front and Centre.

“It was a collaboration with WildFire.”

While the pandemic put doubt in his mind as to whether he’d be able to create music again, Russ kept going.

As pandemic restrictions lifted and while hanging out with Pronto, a riddim was developed.

They came up with the idea called Soca People, a 2023 collaboration with Shal Marshall.

While the idea was devised in January 2022, it was initially shelved and then revisited in March of that year.

While revisiting it, they decided it would work best as a collaboration and that was how Shal got involved.

This song put his foot in the doorway, Russ said.

“When I came to TT Carnival after that (2023) the song was playing on radio. It made me feel good as an upcoming artiste…,” he said.

He said when he came to TT people knew the song but did not know him. It, however, gave him performing opportunities, including a performance on Ubersoca Cruise and some gigs in New York.

That experience taught him a lot about the industry, he said.

Doing all of this had dipped into his savings and Russ had to work and replenish his savings before he could record again.

“When I came to TT Carnival in 2023, I made a sacrifice for myself to be here for almost two months, to do my ground work, make my connections, meet who I have to meet; talk to who I have to talk to.”

He did not see the spend as unnecessary as it helped him to develop his music career.

“People were in my ear, ‘Russ, why you don’t drop something again after Soca People?’

“’Why you don’t release next song yet?’ ‘What yuh waiting on?’ At the end of the day, it was not that I did not want to release a next song. It was the fact that a song is not $500.

“A song could range from $3000 and more,” he said.

New artistes often had to pay for production, writers, mix and master, marketing, artwork and all of this added up for one song, he said.

While it took him a little longer, he was able to release Position in November 2023.

It was written by Akeem “Preedy” Chance and produced by Boogy Ranks.

“In the soca industry, as an upcoming artiste, they recommend for you to drop your songs in August or September to start off in the soca race.

“Because if you wait later down the line the more prominent artistes will start dropping their other music and one could get caught up in that scene.”

Russ released his song in November and believes it did affect him.

He is, however, proud of the song and its production.

However, Russ believes there should no special time for soca artistes to release music. Songs should be released year round, he said. He said doing this would help to keep food on the tables of entertainers and they would no longer only have to rely on Carnival to make funds or profit.

He also believes that platforms like the Young Kings and the International Soca Monarch are important ones for up and coming artistes.

“It is not about the competition. It is about the achievement of winning the title. It is not about you competing with your peers but about you showing your talent and if you win, you win.

“If you don’t win, at least you know as an individual you gave it your all,” he said.


"Russ working on songs for 2025"

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