Russel here. Drummer. MC. Freedom fighter. But not in that order. Yeah, sure, I could go back and switch them round, but I don’t have time. Got to stay in the moment, stay focused. The world is spinning out of control, people. No time for distractions. Cos that’s what The Man wants, man. Wants you dumbed down, diverted, head stuck in a smartphone or computer screen. Like you are right now. Yeah, I see you. Russel’s watching you. I mean, I’m not actually watching you—that would be messed up. And breach a ton of privacy laws. But the point is… what was my point… uh…
FOCUS. Don’t get distracted. Actually, that’s kind of what Gorillaz is about. Dark stuff is going down—we don’t look away. We zoom right in on it, like a military surveillance drone. Truth is our target. That’s the one thing the four of us agree on, and what keeps us together.
Before Gorillaz, I was doing my thing stateside. Brooklyn. That’s where I grew up, and where I got into hip-hop. But it all went sideways when a bunch of my crew got clipped outside a 7-Eleven. So Russel senior sent me to England, reckon he thought I’d be safe living in some kind of Jane Austen book sipping tea with the Queen. But it didn’t go down that way. Instead I got kidnapped by a heinous English dude who smelled of lube and cigarettes: the one and only Murdoc Niccals. He jammed a bag over my head, drove me to his studio, then forced his latest track into my ears. I was about to enact my vengeance, but when I tuned into the sound, I called off the assault. The guy had something. Something to say. And that’s how me and Gorillaz hooked up.
Aside from the music, Murdoc and me don’t have a thing in common. Well, guess you could say we each have a problem with spirits. His, the 70% proof kind. Mine are actual spirits, the undead. I get possessed by dead rappers. Sounds cool? Let me tell you, it’s NOT. It’s damn uncivilized, filling me up, spurting through my veins, then gushing out of me like some kind of hip-hop enema I never asked for. But I’ve learned to live with it, make it a positive. Only thing you can do when bad stuff happens. Like when I got imprisoned in North Korea after some toxic algae turned me into a sixty-foot giant. They said I was the North Korean Godzilla, caged me in Pyongyang like a freakshow. People were laughing. It was humiliating. But then I realised, this was probably the most entertainment these dudes had since some guy once drew a face on a turnip. So I found the positive, y’know? Took the control back.
That’s what we can all do. Take the power back. Case in point: a shrink would say all the wack stuff I’ve been through, all the undead voices in my head, has messed with my mind. Nah. It’s made me sharper, more tuned in. More aware of the shadows creeping their vice-like fingers around us, preparing to squeeze. Some people think I’m nuts. Other day someone said, “Russ, you’re paranoid.” And I said, “Yeah? And how’d you know my name?” And they said, “Cos it’s me, 2D.” And I was like, “Is it? How do I KNOW? You might be a cyborg.” So I tried pulling his face off. He passed the test. This time…
Stay sharp, people. Stay focused. Only way we’ll get through this. We have the power.
Published January 01, 2017.