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Born in Atlanta, Russell grew up near Dallas, Texas, where he became interested in music. He recorded an album as part of an English assignment before attending the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. While still in college, he collaborated with Ruslan on their 2018 album, Via Text. A year later, he released his debut solo album, Once in a Dry Season. Following his graduation from Cornell, he relocated to Los Angeles where he took a corporate job in brand consultancy, all the while continuing to release a steady flow of singles. He also began posting videos on the social-media platform TikTok. It was there in 2023 that Russell posted a portion of his song "Lil Boo Thang," a danceable track built around a sample of the Emotions' 1977 hit "Best of My Love," originally composed by Earth, Wind & Fire's Maurice White and Al McKay. The video went viral, snagging over ten million views, and ultimately landed Russell a contract with Arista Records. He officially released "Lil Boo Thang" in August 2023, peaking at 51 on the Hot 100. ~ Matt Collar