Russia: Putin wants to “control” rap music

Russia debates rap. Vladimir Putin has a problem with texts that glorify drugs. But bans are counterproductive, the Kremlin must take control instead.

“The path to the decline of the nation” is paved with hard beats and even harder rhymes, says Vladimir Putin. Russia’s president sees a problem for his country above all in rap texts that glorify drugs. But instead of suppressing rap music, according to Putin, the Kremlin should exert influence. If you can’t stop rap, you have to steer and direct it, Putin said on Saturday at a meeting with cultural representatives in St Petersburg.

The background to this is the dispute over banning several Russian musicians from performing. The latest international headline was the case of the Russian rapper Husky. Due to pressure from the authorities, several organizers had cancelled concerts of the 25-year-old, which was controversially discussed among young Russians in particular – and probably increased the musician’s fame.

After a Husky appearance in a club in Krasnodar had been cancelled at short notice, the rapper wanted to compensate his fans with a spontaneous appearance on a car roof. As a result, he was arrested for, among other things, hooliganism and defiance of state authority and sentenced to twelve days in prison. After public protest, however, he was released prematurely, allegedly after an intervention by the government apparatus.

The Russian police classify the rapper – whose real name is Dmitry Kuznetsov – as “extreme”. Some of his videos are blocked in Russia because they show drug use, fights and weapons. In many of his texts, the musician criticizes the government, he thematizes poverty and police violence. In addition – so the reproach of the authorities – he would insult believers, propagate sexual licentiousness and glorify cannibalism.

For the future, Putin therefore proposes to “take control” and steer things in the desired direction. The Russian president didn’t say exactly how he imagined it to be. The subject had to be discussed in the Ministry of Culture. However, he did not believe in prohibitions because they had the opposite effect.

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