In response to the growing influence that rap music has had on Russian youth, Vladimir Putin has decided to appoint cultural leaders to start controlling it, rather than outright banning it. He explained, "if it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it."
While conducting a meeting in St. Petersburg, Putin made the generalization that "rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs and protest." However, the Russian president is reportedly most concerned with the circulation of drug references, claiming "this is a path to the degradation of the nation."
Rather than banning rap artists from performing, Putin believes prohibition will lead to their increased popularity. He has said that he intends on appointing cultural leaders to come up with a plan to control the dissemination of rap music. When explaining his decision not to ban the genre altogether, he referred to that approach as, “the least effective, the worst ones anyone could come up with.”
This decision does not come as a surprise, given that the Russian government is currently enforcing a crackdown on contemporary music, reminiscent of Soviet-era prohibitions. Last month, a rapper by the name of Husky was arrested following an impromptu performance in the city of Krasnodar. The rapper has been known to incorporate lyrics that call out corruption, police brutality and poverty. While preparing for a performance in late November, local officials went as far as warning venue management that his act is considered "extremism."
Before being taken into police custody, Husky shouted to a group of supporters, “I will sing my music, the most honest music!” Husky is not the only rapper to be affected by these measures. Last month Gone.Fludd announced two concert cancellations, claiming that he received pressures from "every police agency you can imagine."
Hip-hop artist Allj also canceled one of his performances in the Northern city of Yakutsk after receiving violent threats. While Putin has explained that he doesn't intend on banning rap music, the pressures, threats and crackdowns seem to be contradictory to that statement.