Russ Talks Launching DIEMON Records, Massive Success Behind HANDSOMER and More
DIEMON Records co-founder and multi-genre hitmaker Russell “Russ” Vitale dropped the visuals for his single “What They Want” in the spring of 2016. The release became an instant Hip-Hop hit garnering more than 370 million views and, to date, the track has secured 8x Platinum certifications in the US, Canada, and Australia alone. The video begins with Russ walking out of a cabin in the middle of the woods, surrounded by leaves of a pinkish-purple hue falling to the ground. It was this moment that introduced the hip-hop star to the world.
Russ has since released hits such as HANDSOMER, BEST ON EARTH (feat. BIA), UGLY (feat. Lil Baby), and more selling millions of records, further solidifying his role in music. Whether it’s selling out shows across the world, launching a record label with his childhood best friend, writing a book, or standing up for artist rights, Russ is here to stay. Since the start of his career, Russ has joined forces with world-renowned artists and producers such as BIA, Big Sean, Wale, Boi-1DA, Kiana Lede, The Game, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Capella Grey, and more, including his unreleased and highly-anticipated project with Nicki Minaj.
When Russ and his best friend Bugus were only 17, the two entrepreneur-minded artists constructed the concept of forming their own record label, DIEMON, which later came to fruition. The “artist-friendly” label has a mission to pour knowledge and resources into the careers and lives of up-and-coming artists. “We get to have a direct hand in the artists of tomorrow’s future and careers,” says Russ in his Contrast interview. “That’s my whole thing. Now I see artists and have now assembled the resources and network myself where I can actually help an artist fully.”
What allows DIEMON to stand out in the crowd is the label’s ability to leave the creative control directly in the hands of the artist. This is the case for the label’s first signee LaRussell, who also owns his masters. This is a major power play considering most labels do not offer this sort of freedom to their artists. DIEMON is also home to female rapper KTLYN, who made a name for herself with the viral remix to Russ’ “HANDSOMER.”
His recent single “HANDSOMER” has already secured a #1 spot on iTunes, including a Top 40 position on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart. In February, Russ opened the door for his fans to post a verse to the single, calling for a remix. This challenge sent the track to viral heights. Included in the endless submissions, was San Diego rapper KTLYN, which caught Russ’ eye, who immediately got to work on making it the official remix. The remix naturally landed a Top 40 position as well and lived on the charts for 10 weeks.
“We get to have a direct hand in the artists of tomorrow’s future and careers, and we can help… That’s my whole thing. Now I see artists and have now assembled the resources and network myself where I can actually help an artist fully.”
“I’m more focused on my legacy,” says Russ. “I feel like when you can impact how people think, especially how people think about themselves…that’s something I’m super proud about.”
Besides having two different eye colors, Contrast Magazine asked Russ what makes him strikingly different and he responded, “when you actually live your truth and when you contribute yourself to the world, you don’t have to try to be different; you are different by nature.” Be sure to stay connected with Russ on Instagram and stream HANDSOMER Remix here.
Photography by @MATTHEW_FELIX.
Creative Direction + Story by @ACTUALMONROE.
Styled by @JYOTISHA_.
Hair by @IAMTRACYLOVEE.
Production Assistants: @THEJOSERESENDEZ + @INSTAKEVEN + @MICHELLECHIA.
Videography by @SHOTBYPETEYPABLO.
Video Assistant: @JUSTXLESTER.
Special thank you to @FYIBRANDGROUP + @LODUKES.
Interview by @ALEXQUIN.