Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Martei Korley—
More than any other producer, Tarik “Rvssian” Johnston has defined the sound of dancehall in the last half decade. Coming to prominence with productions for Vybz Kartel such as “Go Go Club” and “Straight Jeans and Fitted”, Rvssian— formerly known as Russian with a ‘U,’ he has recently re-branded for SEO purposes—was the Werl’ Boss right-hand man in the booth, as Kartel reached the peak of his career circa 2010.
If it seemed like Rvssian’s influence waned in the wake of Kartel’s 2011 arrest on murder charges, the producer laid that notion to waste in 2013, dropping a string of potent hits with an incarcerated Kartel and launching dancehall’s newest female sensation, J. Capri, through his label, Head Concussion Records.
Though he still works primarily in Kingston, Rvssian now makes his home near Miami. That city’s influence has begun to manifest itself in his music, with echoes of Miami Bass music heard on J. Capri and Konshens’ “Pull Up To The Bumper” and the Latin influence on “Mamacita,” a track pairing some Kartel en espanol with Shakira-esque vocals from Ms. Capri.
Rvssian has been a staple presence on LargeUp since our launch but recently we finally sat down with him to talk shop at his Miami area condo, linking with him again for a photo shoot set against that city’s Wynwood art district.