Friday, November 23, 2012

Hip Hop Artist Josh "Handz Onn" Russell

Josh 'Handz Onn' Russell finally showed me what I have been looking for in a hip hop artist when it come to putting on a show in this area:

That a hip-hop artist actually GETS it.

When the flyer for your show says that the show will start at 9:30, it better damn well start at 9:30. It's about being a professional with your music and your show, and Handz Onn did just that.

It was one of the many things about him that impressed me.

The married Russell, who will turn 30 on December 7th, has shown that his decade in the business has taught a lot. He understands the industry is shady, but still, every night, grabs the mic and tries to rock the crowd to the best of his ability.

We sat down at The Spot in Neenah before his Black and White Party show there recently, and what I found was a man that realizes his place in the hip hop world, and completely enjoys every second of it.

So what are you working on right now?

I have got so much stuff going on, man. I am working on my third CD, which hopefully will be out around March or April. It's going to be called “This Time Around” and the focus is mainly going to be that this time around I am going to do it for myself instead of trying to please everyone else, and trying to be something that I'm not. I am also working on going on tour. In January and February I will be on the Grind Time Tour with a guy out of Minnesota named Izzy Dunfor. We are hopefully doing 15 to 20 shows each in Wisconsin and Minnesota and a few in Iowa as well. We are co-headlining that.

When do you first fall in love with Music?

Ever since I was born. I am one of those guys that likes all genres of music. I listen to country, I listen to rock, I listen to hip-hop, rap, metal. All genres. Some good friends of mine are in a metal band called Bobo Flex and they are touring nation-wide right now. I have been listen to music for ever. My first love as far as hip-hop goes was Bone Thugz n Harmony. I was like 10 years old when that CD came out and I thought that it was the coolest shit I ever heard.

Who are your musical influences?

Absolutely Bones is one of them. I love them. I like House of Pain, Everlast, and a lot of underground artists like Haystack, all the CWB people.

Describe your music?

My music is a good Wisconsin party. It's a little bit of hip hop with a little bit of alcohol influence. I do a lot of socialables on stage, I have a song called “Alcoholic All-Star”. Basically, I like to go out and get drunk. I like to say on stage that I am not a rapper or a hip hop artist, but a drunk dude that someone gave a microphone.

What do you want people to hear in your music?

In my live shows, I do a lot of party songs, and I mean party as in a college house party. On my recorded music, I do a lot more story-telling tracks. I like to tell stories in my music. I like to talk about how corrupt the industry is. I talk about how hard it is to make it as a true artist instead of being the next hype. I have been doing this for 10 years, and you can try your entire life and not make it anywhere, except for a bar, or you can be picked up off the street and made the next sensation and not have any talent, and that drives me insane.

Tell me about the mixtape?

Basically what it is, its a mixtape of songs from my first two CDs. Its got 19 songs on it, and techincally called it a greatest hits CD, because its the songs that I feel that over those 10 years I have gotten the most hype from.

Best performance you ever gave?

I try to give 100% on every performance, honestly, but the funnest time I have ever had was at Dropfest Car Show in 2008. It was in front of 1500 people and I was the only hip hop artist to perform that day.

Worst performance you ever gave?

At the same time, probably Dropfest, because I was SOOOO nervous. I was the only hip hop artist there, and it was just, “holy shit, there is a lot of people out there that don't even know who I am.” I felt like that I got out there and tried too hard. But I threw a couple t-shirts and CDs out to the crowd and afterwards people were coming up to me asking for autographs, so it worked out well.

What are some the good things about the music scene in this area?

The music scene in this area is really good as far as networking with other artists. All the artists are always down to help and network with other artists, and so am I. As far as the community, I like to show that hip hop shouldn't be looked at as negative like a lot of people do. I do a lot of benefits and charities. I did a benefit for the tornado victims in Kaukauna two years ago. The scene is good, but it can always be built up, and that is what I am trying to do.

What are some of the things that could be improved?

It seems like a lot of people want to go out and watch Rock bands, but not so much hip hop shows. It kind of gives a bad outlook on hip-hop. Venues would much rather book a rock band than a hip hop group because more people are going to go to a rock show. Or I will say this: more people want to go see a cover band where they can sing along all night than want to go see original music. I am not taking anything away from cover bands, but sometimes I wish I could get a turn out like that for original music. We put a lot of thought and emotion into our music. It would be nice to get a little bit of a return.

One song that describes your life?

I have a song called 'Live My Life'. It talks about how I have to slow down and think about the fact that I a sometimes put so much into my music that sometimes forget to slow down and see whats going on around me. I have to stop and think about my music instead of just trying to put out music.

One artist, alive or dead, that you would want to do a song with?

Dead, I would want to do a song with Johnny Cash. I actually sample his song 'Hurt' in one of my songs. I listen to a lot of old country. I get a lot of influences from that because artists like Johnny Cash were rock stars of their era. They did real music, and weren't trying to be something that they aren't. Alive, I would want to do a song with Everlast, for sure.

What was your first concert?

I went and saw Eminem at the Rave in 1996. It was right before his song 'Hi, My Name Is...' song came out, so he was still an underground artist. There was like 150 people and it was really cool.

Do you ever run into issues as a white dude doing hip hop?

I honestly don't get that much hate as a white boy cause I am not talking about swag. I am not talking about big rims and staying in the club, because that is not me or what I do. I am a hard-working person and that is what I rap about. I just try to do my music and other races know that. And they don't try to shun me because of that. My main problem is that people don't want to give a HIP HOP artist a chance, let alone a white hip hop artist.

What makes you grab the mic and get up there every night?

I have always said, I will do a show in front of five people or 1500 people, and I will always give the same performance no matter what. If I could see just one person bobbing their head or have one person come up to me, give me a high-five and say 'dude, I really liked what you did', then that is why I do it. I don't care if 100 people stand at the bar and tell me I am terrible and one guy comes up and says 'you are the best thing I saw all night', I am not going to remember the 100 that didn't like me, because they won't remember me.

When it is all said and done, what do you want people to say about you?

When it's all said and done, I want people to say 'I remember Handz Onn, he did so and so song and it helped me'. I have a couple of emotional songs about....well not so much ABOUT suicide, but they are anti-suicide songs that are sad stories, you know? I want people to be like, 'I was at a low point in my life, put this CD on, and it helped turn me around'.

Is that what this is all about?

Absolutely. That is what I do. I want to try to motivate people to have fun. That is why I do the party songs on stage and the positive songs in my music. I want people to have fun and smile.

No comments:

Post a Comment