Russian President Vladimir Putin has set his sights on an unlikely target, the country's up-and-coming rap culture. Putin spoke at St. Petersburg meeting with cultural advisers Saturday saying he is alarmed by the growing popularity of rap among Russian youth. Instead of trying to ban rap music, Putin suggested a different tactic saying, "if it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it."
The meeting Saturday between the Russian President and cultural advisers said that attempts to ban artists from performing will only have the opposite effect and bolster the groups' popularity.
Putin also said "rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs, and protest" and noted that he was particularly concerned with drug themes in rap music adding "this is a path to the degradation of the nation." He also added that "drug propaganda" is worse than swearing in music. The Russian leader may have a point about rap music leading to the degradation of the country, a question that some U.S. cultural leaders should probably be considering as well.
The comments from the President of Russia coincided with a crackdown on contemporary music that is reminiscent of the Soviet-era censorship of the arts in the nation's very recent history. Russian rapper "Husky" was arrested after he staged an impromptu performance after his show was shut down in the city of Krasnodar in southern Russia. Husky's videos have racked up over 6 million views on YouTube.
The 25-year-old rapper was set to take the stage on November 21 when local prosecutors threatened the venue that the rapper promoted what they called "extremism." Husky's lyrics focus on poverty, corruption and police brutality in Russia, some topics that the government certainly doesn't want attention drawn to.
After his show was shut down, Husky got on top of a car amidst hundreds of fans and chanted, "I will sing my music, the most honest music!" He was promptly taken away by the police and jailed.
A similar situation occurred November 30 when rapper "Gone Fludd" announced two of his shows had been canceled. The reasons he cited included pressure from "every police agency you can imagine." Another popular rapper named "Allj" also canceled his show which was set to take place in the Arctic city of Yakutsk after he was threatened with violence.
These are just a few examples of Russia's recent crackdown on music with lyrics the government doesn't agree with. Rap isn't the only genre being targeted by Putin and his government, pop singer "Monetochka" and the punk band "Friendzona" also had their shows shut down by the Russian government.