Russell was born in St. Louis to Beverly Malloyd and Kenneth Bell. He was the third of four children and leaves behind two brothers, Maurice Malloyd and Henry Guilbeaux; a sister, Karen Malloyd; and a host of nieces and nephews.
He graduated from University City High School in 1992 and soon after started his career in the music business. In May of 1995, he moved to Atlanta, Ga where through a friend and colleague he met R&b superstar Keith Sweat. The following year he was featured on Keith Sweat’s number 1 single “Twisted,” which sold an amazing 5 million copies in the United States alone. This makes Pretty Russ the first hip-hop artist from St. Louis to be featured on a multi-platinum album.
Growing up in U.City, which is a Mecca for talent, Russ worked side by side with most of St. Louis’ elite talent, from Nelly & The St. Lunatics to Tab Money, who was signed to Eazy E’s Ruthless Records, world-famous DJ Charlie Chan & platinum producer Orlando “Pretty Boy” Watson. Pretty Russ helped to lay the foundation that most of the young hip-hop artists stand on today. His independent record label Thoro Muzick was one of the most successful labels in St. Louis.