LaRussell (formerly Tota) – 20 Shots | GC Presents: Live Series

LaRussell (formerly Tota) – 20 Shots | GC Presents: Live Series

LaRussell wasn’t your typical kid growing up. On his voyage to success, passion was the vehicle driving his ambition, ultimately steering him to his destiny. The traditional school setting felt like a barrier —for all his intelligence, LaRussell still couldn’t fuel his drive without passion.

“I never struggled with school, I just didn’t want to do it,” he says. “It’s not like I was having any difficulties with it, I was just choosing not to because I wanted to pursue and embark on something else. I feel like when a child struggles and or lacks in school, there’s usually another issue that arises. Maybe they’re just not stimulated there or that type of learning doesn’t work for them. I’m just really big on following passion.”

After an array of incidents, LaRussell ended up at Vallejo’s People’s High School — an alternative high school for students that had trouble behaviorally and or academically. The alternative route was more tailored to LaRussell’s learning style. The students went to school half of the day, and the teachers were more flexible and hands-on.

“I’ve always gotten great grades since I started school. I’m highly intelligent, I just wasn’t applying that,” LaRussell said. “It is really a thing of need. What type of learning do you need to get you to to where you want to be, more so than intelligence; which is crazy because we look at people that fail school like they’re dumb or something, but (usually) one has nothing to do with the other. You don’t even need intelligence to get a college degree. You need discipline. There are so many things that play into that and we just kind of look at it all backwards.”

After LaRussell graduated from high school, he welcomed his first child, a baby girl. Being a new father was his top priority, so he had to make drastic changes quickly — including pumping the brakes on his musical endeavors to secure financial stability for his daughter. Despite the unexpected twist, he still managed to graduate on time and use his wit to land him a high paying job in the aerospace industry, where he excelled.

Many people would deem this as success, but for LaRussell, it slowly drained him psychologically and spiritually.

“I made music but I wasn’t actively pushing it on the level that I wanted to because I was grinding and working,” said LaRussell. “I had responsibilities. I worked my way up to a higher level, and I realized I was miserable. I was making a decent amount of money for my age, but I wasn’t happy. I was going into work miserable because I wasn’t chasing that passion or doing what I love. For about six years, I was just focused on work, trying to make money, and grinding. In 2018, I released my first album and the reaction from that motivated me and really pushed me to pursue my passion.”

At that point, LaRussell finally started to taste the fruits of his labor, and music nourished him in ways that money alone couldn’t. He had a gift he was destined to share with the world. His dreams became a reality when he encountered a random fan playing his music in traffic for the first time.

“It felt incredible,” he remembers. “I remember one day, I was just enjoying the day, and a truck passed by playing the intro to my album. We started screaming and jumping. It was just like that feeling of ‘wow, this is what you’re supposed to be doing’.”

He had an epiphany, realizing that he couldn’t starve himself of his dream any longer. He needed to take a leap of faith.

“I took a really big risk. I threw my first headline show. I wanted to see if people would show up. So we did about 160-170 tickets. We did it at Empress Theatre at home and it turned out really successful. From there, it was really like, this is what you should be doing.”

There were also humbling moments. At another show, he didn’t have the same outcome. The only people that showed up were the people that he came with, which were about five people. His heart shattered, but he patched it up with humility and continued on with the show despite the disappointment.

“I wanted to quit, but they paid for the show,” he said. “I had to give them what they came for. I tore (it) up. I still had to turn up. It was one of my best shows, I went down in the crowd and everything. We got through it together. It made me realize that I’m not where I thought I was, and that I had to get back in the gym and keep shooting.”

After a bittersweet year, LaRussell had some money saved, his father (whom he credits as one of his greatest sources of inspiration), and friends invested in him. He finally decided to risk it all, quit his job and pour everything into his craft. He formed his arts company with his friends, Good Compenny, spelled with ‘penny’ because “pennies are undervalued but they add up,” and he put in the overtime grind.

Fast forward to today. He’s made incredible strides toward his destiny. Not only are some of the biggest artists out of the Bay Area reaching out to collaborate with Good Compenny, but he’s creating a buzz for himself nationwide.

One of the highlights of his career was being invited to one of the country’s most popular shows, The Breakfast Club, to showcase his talent. One of the show’s hosts, Charlamagne tha God, called his music “holistic hip-hop” with “healing versus” and “alkaline bars that are organic.”

Follow LaRussell on all social media platforms under the handle “LaRussell.”

Provided to YouTube by GoodCompenny / EnemiesWorldWide.

Official Live Performance of 20 Shots performed by LaRussell
Released on: 04/18/2019
Social Media: @larussell

Writers: Larussell Thomas
Performers: LaRussell
Recording Engineers: Mariah Brooks
Mix Engineers: Mariah Brooks
Mastering Engineer: Larussell Thomas
Cameraman: David Doria
Director: David Doria, Larussell Thomas
Editor: David Doria
Set Help: Imani Mills, Dianne Dulay

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