Russian state TV pundit sticks up for rappers, dropping some sick Mayakovsky lyrics
On Sunday night, state television pundit Dmitry Kiselyov spent nearly 15 minutes of his flagship week-in-review show sticking up for Russian rappers, who had a rough November, full of cancelled concerts, police pressure, and backlash from parent groups. Kiselyov assured his viewers that he wasn’t defending some nasty American import, saying, “It’s believed that rap as a culture came from Black America. We got it in the 1990s. That’s not entirely true, however. The precursor of the Russian rap poetic tradition was Vladimir Mayakovsky, of course.”
He then “rapped” some Mayakovsky lyrics, to prove their rappiness. The essence of Kiselyov’s remarks was that rappers represent an immensely popular, frequently patriotic “alternative subculture,” and they “shouldn’t be harassed.”
Who cares if a Kremlin pundit stands up for rappers? Russia's crackdown on rap, hip hop, and other pop artists accelerated in November. Meduza put together a “banned playlist” here, and talked to two Soviet rockers about their experience with censorship in the 1980s here. A day before Kisleyov’s show aired, police detained the “slaughterhouse” hard rave duet IC3PEAK at a train station in Novosibirsk. After searching them for drugs and questioning them at the station, the officers eventually released the musicians without charges.
Some in the Kremlin apparently object to the new hostility toward rappers and other controversial pop artists. In later November, according to Margarita Simonyan (another state media pundit), the Putin administration told local courts in Krasnodar to order the early release the rapper “Husky” from his 12-day jail sentence.