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Rapper who inspired 'Spring Breakers' character talks kittens, tattoos, n-word

By ROBBYN MITCHELL

Times Staff Writer

Filmed in Pinellas County in 2012, Harmony Korine's film Spring Breakers hits theaters on March 22. Alien, a lead character played by James Franco, was based on Russ Curry, a 26-year-old rapper who grew up in south St. Petersburg. Dangeruss, as he is known professionally, has recorded two mixtapes and achieved some attention for his song "My Fork," about using the utensil to cook drugs. Recently, Curry sat down at home in north St. Petersburg, in a quiet enclave of tree-lined streets and well-kept homes, and spoke about being discovered by Hollywood, being raised by wolves, who gets to use the n-word and tattoo strategy for aspiring CEOs.

 

Harmony Korine found me.

He was in Florida filming; he says he was looking for an authentic white guy that was from the 'hood. You know, that's really from it, that he could tell immediately was not putting on an act.

When they found me, he told me, he said, "Stop! That's it. Boom. Go get him. He's the guy." I felt good about it because that's what it is. I'm glad he was able to identify that I was not portraying something that I wasn't — which a lot of people do.

James Franco is a real, real cool guy, man. A good person outside of just a very intelligent and talented actor and just well rounded in general.

When I first met him, he seemed a little timid, I guess. You know, a little skeptical. He wasn't sure what to (make) of me I think from the initial appearance. And then once we got to sit down and talk for a minute he was cool. He actually flew me out to L.A. after we did the movie just on the personal strength that he felt like he liked me, and that I had a talent for music. And that was a separate project from the movie! So I love James. I just talked to him the other day. He says he got other stuff in store for me, so we'll see what happens, where that goes.

 

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I get criticized about using the n-word by other people that don't know me. It's just one of those things that you almost can't even explain. I wouldn't condone other white rappers or people to just use the word freely.

This is the best way I can describe it. You take a kitten, fresh kitten, take it into the middle of the woods and drop it off with a pack of wolves, right? And you leave it out there. Them wolves accept that kitten as their own.

They teaching it how to hunt. They teaching it how to run and they teaching it how to live like a wolf. So, that's all that kitten knows is how to be a wolf. So, you go back to that same place that you left that kitten at five, six years later. That kitten looks like a kitten but that kitten is a wolf at heart. So, you tell me when that moon come up at night, you telling me that cat can't howl with them wolves because it's not a wolf?

I don't condone the use of the word, you know. But I don't use it in a derogatory manner either. I've never racially slandered anybody by using that word. Ever. That's not my thing. I have more respect than that. I use it as a term of endearment for the people I grew up with.

 

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The soundtrack for Spring Breakers was done by Atlantic Records. So we signed a small royalties deal on the use, 'cause they wanted to outright buy the song My Fork for the movie. I told them I was not willing to even negotiate anything to do with that song 'cause I felt like that was kind of like my golden nugget. We worked through a couple songs and got to Hangin With Da Dopeboys. You know, that ended up going in the soundtrack and in the movie. So Atlantic Records has heard the track, but I don't know what they are going to do. But I think there are (record label execs) that have heard my name and that's good for me.

When I think about what do I see coming from this, I really don't picture being in videos with these models and going to clubs and partying. I wanna be able to give my family a chance. We never really had a chance.

I wanna get money so that I can help my family. And because my grandmother was such a strong inspirational woman, I want to open a charity for grandmothers that have to raise their grandchildren. She had two boys, hardheaded boys, you know. I didn't follow everything she told me to do, but she did instill morals and values in me that will always be there. I attribute everything to her for the positivity in me now. I want to be able to give back to her what I wasn't able to up till now.

The first tattoo I ever got? My grandmother's name right on my heart. I knew if I was going to get a tattoo, she wasn't going to be happy because I was a kid. I was 14 or 15 and I say, "You know what? If I get her name on my heart, she might be mad but can't be that mad." At least it would take some of the weight off, you know.

I'm not going under the elbows, though. I'm going to keep it above the elbows. It's just a better look for the longevity, you know. When I turn 45 or 50, I'd like to have nice-looking arms. I'd like to come out with a nice short-sleeve shirt on and still be presentable, you know. … I might be 40 and wanting to be a CEO of a company or might be in position to be at a multibillion-dollar conglomerate, you understand? I want to be able to step in there and be respected and taken accordingly.

But right now, my egg is my music. That's what I'm ticketing on for this moment. But also, I'm getting ready to start school for other things. I'ma go to St. Petersburg College. I want to get an associate's (degree) there and then finish it up with a bachelor's at the University of South Florida. That's what I'd like to do if nothing comes from this: business and real estate.

I don't expect to wake up tomorrow and be rich. You know, I want to work for it. I told my lady in the fourth quarter of 2011, "I don't know what it is. I've got this gut feeling that 2012 is going to be my breakthrough year where I really get noticed."

I said it to the point where I go to say it and she'd just stop me. And then in the first quarter of 2012, I got the call from Harmony Korine … I don't know, it just started rolling and it's weird and it's almost like I prophesied it. And I said it's only going to get bigger and better. And it seems like that's what's happening.

I don't know if that's just my faith or what, but it's happening.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at rmitchell@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3373.

 

 

Photo by JOHN PENDYGRAFT / Times

 

Rapper Dangeruss grew up in south St. Petersburg. James Franco's character in the upcoming film Spring Breakers is based largely on the underground musician, who's keeping his lower arms tattoo-free — for the sake of image.

 

 

To see video of Dangeruss performing his music, plus more of his interview with Times staff writer Robbyn Mitchell, go to tampabay.com/features.

Rapper who inspired 'Spring Breakers' character talks kittens, tattoos, n-word 03/01/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 15, 2013 1:45pm]
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