Russ Diemon recently released his twelfth studio album Santiago while showcasing his creative marketing campaign in Dubai. However, after the album’s successful promotion, the independent rapper took to social media to criticize Billboard for allegedly “cheating” him out of thousands of sales.
An Eye-Catching Promotion
Russ, known for his hit song “What They Want,” unveiled his highly anticipated album Santiago on August 18, 2023. As part of his album promotion, the rapper chose Dubai as the location to showcase his creativity.
The highlight of the campaign was a CGI digital billboard featuring a giant vinyl record rolling across the skyscrapers and into the album sleeve. Multiple screens also displayed the album’s title and a painted photo of Russ on the side of a building.
Russ Calls Out Billboard
Excited about the unique promotion, Russ took to social media to share his experience in Dubai, writing, “Saw the craziest s#%* ever in Dubai yesterday.” Fans applauded his independent success, with one saying, “It’s so inspiring to see that this is how far you can actually come independently.”
However, the rapper’s excitement quickly turned to frustration as he accused Billboard of “cheating” him out of thousands of sales. Despite debuting at #12 on the Billboard 200 chart with 42,000 copies sold in the first week, Russ alleged that the chart calculations did not accurately represent his sales. In a social media post, he wrote:
“Billboard & Luminate took away ANOTHER 4,000 of my REAL sales over the weekend making that 10,000 sales total they took away from me while allowing major labels to fake their streams and sales and do monopolistic merch bundles (only major labels are allowed to do merch bundles because the only approved vendor is a major label vendor) These numbers and charts are made up The impact however is not. Shoutout to the fans.”
Russ’ Manager Speaks
Fans supported the rapper, urging Billboard to address the issue and not overlook independent artists. A fan responded to the rapper saying, “That’s crazy, hope Billboard actually addresses this cause this is messed up for independent artists.”
The New Jersey rapper responded to the fan, writing, “They’re not gonna address it, and if they do they’ll lie, deflect, and gaslight.” Further support came from Russ’s manager, Milan Ackerman, who wrote:
“Major labels are hiding their fake streams (streaming farms) in plain sight and no one is stopping them. Some of the artists on these labels aren’t even aware that their streams are inflated, until it’s time for those artists to sell “hard tickets”. At which point the numbers don’t add up. It’s time to verify streams & sales data on-chain via @chainlink.” Ackermen then added, “The current music “charts” are inflated by fake data and that data is being verified by one company only. That same company that verifies the data is owned by the same company that owns the “charts”.It’s a rigged game.”
Amidst the controversy, Russ emphasized the importance of the situation, stating, ‘I don’t think ya’ll realize how nuts this is.. Billboard charts are inflated by fake data which is being verified by only one company, Luminate. Both Billboard & Luminate are owned by the same company.. Anyway imma sit back and watch Milan expose the whole sh*t.”
Nicki Minaj Calls Out The Grammys
Artistry has always elicited strong emotions from artists, and Russ’s recent criticism of Billboard is reminiscent of Nicki Minaj’s public rant against the Grammys in 2022. In a 20-minute Instagram video, Minaj expressed her frustration at being snubbed by the awards show, bringing attention to the industry’s biases and shortcomings.