The year is almost up and many of us are taking stock in what a year it's been. For some, it's been a year of good times and happy surprises. But for others, it's been a rather difficult one that's brought its fair share of pain. Rising Canadian singer-songwriter RUSSELL! speaks to the latter with the release of his searing single "R U UP?" and its equally vulnerable music video.
The song itself gets a bit of its feel from production by KyleYouMadeThat, who crafts a slow-paced, electronic groove that incorporates the pain and loneliness that RUSSELL! expresses in the lyrics. The singer positions the confessional song as a plea to his lover that allows him to be honest about what he's feeling.
"Drinkin' out the bottle tryna find my way out / Phone is off, I don't wanna talk to nobody / Everything seem hella cloudy, I've been feelin' sad and drowsy / Tryna let these feelings out," he sings on the opening verse. "You know things been rough, had less ups more downs / I lose hope sometimes, I might give up now." But rather than give into the dark thoughts he's feeling, he begs for his lover to stay with him as he sorts things out on the chorus, singing, "Don't, don't leave me here on my own / I'll give you all of my love tonight / Don't leave me hangin' stay up tonight / Please stay up tonight."
The visual for the song helps bring his mind state into perspective. We first see him sitting alone in his apartment puffing on a J and wallowing in his feelings. When the chorus plays, we see a woman who we assume is his lover sitting with him in his imagination. Though he takes comfort in the image of her, we get the feeling that comfort is only temporary and fear that things might take a turn for the worse as the last images are of his empty apartment as red-and-blue lights flash just outside of his window.
Though a bit jarring, "R U UP?" speaks to a sentiment that's all too real, especially in light of the spike in suicides among men of color and the movement to be mindful of mental health in this country and the world over. While the song does bring up this important topic, we also think it's important to note that if you or anyone shares similar feelings, there is always help. Resources can be found via the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or by simply dialing 988 on your phone whenever you need someone to talk you through options to get the help you need.
Listen to RUSSELL! get honest and raw about his feelings when you press play on the stream for "R U UP?" and watch the gripping visual for the song below.