Hip-hop music has been under constant scrutiny, attack and attempted censorship almost from its origins. At the height of the popularity of “gangsta” rap music in the 1990s, as an example, the genre was even the subject of high-profile hearings on Capitol Hill.
Now, according to the New York Post, Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly will begin to control and steer the ever-popular and growing hip-hop music genre in his country.
The Post details accounts of multiple rap concert cancellations without explanation by Russian authorities. Russian-born artists are reportedly being harassed, threatened with fines and even jailed for trying to perform rap music throughout the republic. Putin hosted a round table discussion this past week where he proclaimed the power of hip-hop and how it can heavily influence the people of Russia, particularly from a protest standpoint.
Speaking at a meeting of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art in St. Petersburg, Putin said handling rap music should be done “with great caution.”
“What I really agree with is that if it is impossible to stop it, it should be taken over and navigated in a particular way,” Putin said, according to the Post.
Putin believes that, if unchecked, rap will contaminate Russian culture.
“Rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs and protest,” Putin said during his address. Putin stopped short of ordering the total censorship of rap artists in Russia as he believes this would turn the rap artists into martyrs and subsequently make them even more popular.
Putin was referencing Russian rappers like Husky after multiple concerts of his were canceled. In December, authorities in the southern city of Krasnodar stopped his performance and classified it as “extremism.” Husky was also tossed in jail for 12 days after performing for fans on the roof of a car, the Post reports.
Putin is particularly concerned about what he terms as drug-themed rap, which he believes will lead to the “degradation of the nation.” Russia is reportedly handing out grants to “help” rappers promote their careers. There is also a new competition to make the best rap song about traveling in Russia, the Post reports.
What do you make of Putin’s pronouncements?