Last March, when Disney pop-star turned pop-tart Selena Gomez Instagrammed a picture from the set of Harmony Korine's eagerly awaited film Spring Breakers, plenty of people quickly noted a resemblance between James Franco’s colorful character and rapper Riff Raff. For his part, Riff Raff quickly claimed the character was based on him, and that he'd been tapped for the film by Korine himself, but was out of the country, and therefore unable to participate.
"The role I would have played would be like a drug dealer, or the friend of a drug dealer, Gucci Mane" said Riff Raff. I asked him if James Franco was originally supposed to be in the movie as a different character. "James Franco was in the movie, but I was supposed to be in there also. Now James Franco is playing me."
A few days later, Franco himself swatted down Riff Raff: “None of that’s true.” Also:
I would say the biggest influence on the role was this local Florida rapper named Dangerous [sic]. He's fairly unknown, but he was down there in the place, living the life, and he became the biggest model for me and he's in the movie.
Russ “Dangeruss” Curry grew up on the south side of St. Petersburg, a predominantly black area known for high crime and a lack of opportunity. Danger, as he's known to his friends, compares it to “the bad parts of Chicago and Miami and New Orleans.” His father left when he was young, and his mother was often absent. “She had her vices, so to speak,” he says. He and his brother were raised by his grandmother, who became ill when he was sixteen. “I became man of the house, you know,” he says. “As far as taking over everything, paying bills, so on and so forth...I got caught up in the streets making good money, and music became secondary."
He became a local star only recently, with the minor viral success of his street hit “My Fork” and his partially-self-produced mixtape, Armed and Dangeruss. The song, named for a key utensil in the crack-mixing process, attracted more attention locally: “It was to the point I was going to shows and people were coming to the shows with forks."
“My Fork” also caught the attention of Harmony Korine, who discovered the video when it was sent to the director by JJ Henry, also known as Hard White, a Florida-based rapper. Russ admits to not being familiar with Korine prior: “I’d seen [Korine's film] Kids when I was in middle school. That used to be my shit when I was in middle school. I didn’t know till I got older that he was the one who wrote the actual storyline for it.”
And that was how things began. I spoke with Dangeruss in a series of phone conversations; he has a strong slurred Southern accent, ("man" is always pronounced "mane") and occasionally peppers his speech with n-bombs. He’s a humble person, and just in the beginning stages of his career, but has an extremely honest, open personality. He unabashedly mentions that he has 'earned stripes' in the street, and seems willing to share whatever is on his mind at a given time, without apology.
Interview conducted by David Drake (@somanyshrimp)