Putin takes on rap music. This won't end well...
You just don't expect the words 'Putin' and 'rap' to appear in the same headline.
But here we are, with the Russian president extraordinaire declaring that the Kremlin must "take charge" of rap music. Lookit:
Putin wants government to "take charge" of rap music
...and here's what the BBC story said:
Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked the government to "take charge" of rap music after a number of concerts were cancelled across the country.
Efforts to ban rap were "impossible" and so the state should play a greater role in controlling it, he said.
The Ministry of Culture would find the best way to "navigate" youth concerts, he added.
His comments come after Russian rapper Husky was arrested after several of his concerts were cancelled.
In December, authorities in the southern city of Krasnodar called off his planned performance for "extremism".
The musician - real name Dmitry Kuznetsov - was then jailed for 12 days after performing for fans on the roof of a car.
Bad as rap can be, both musically and lyrically, this won't end well.
O.K., to start with, I get it. Lots of rap music is total garbage. It sounds bad, and when you hear the lyrics, it is bad. We learn all about baby-daddies, hoes, benjies, cop-hate, and the failed values of the underclass that, well, ensures its aficionados' continued stay in the underclass. And we see it spread like poison to the socially ravaged middle class, kids of divorce and single parents and political correctness, with gangly white teenage boys, fresh from being browbeaten about being white males by their female teachers, embracing it, with some engaging in anti-social behavior, some as bad as spray-shooting sprees in the name of being cool or whatever the term is. There's sexism unlike anything I have ever seen elsewhere in a lot of rap, the objectivization of women and their 'booties beyond redemption, so there's a lot to dislike in a lot of rap.
But not all of it is bad. I've heard ghetto rap songs on the radio that have been delightfully clever and witty, with hilarious places and social dilemmas described, and no profanity or bad values. Will Smith can be pretty funny. So can Weezer, try driving through Beverly Hills playing that one and tell me you can't have fun. Psy, even if we don't like the guy, was rather brilliant. Even those of us in the pre-rap-era set, who don't listen to Kanye West, certainly have some affection for Kanye. I wear a Kanye t-shirt at the gym just to annoy leftists.
The bottom line is, rap and its hip-hop variant, is popular, really popular. It's overtaken rock as the most popular music medium in the industry, a multi-multi billion dollar industry. And any state repression of it is not going to work. The thing is, rap's popularity is the product of social disintegration, much more so than the driver of it.
Russia, ravaged by decades of communism, is socially ravaged, with alcholism, abortion and broken homes some of the defining features of the social landscape, along with decades of Marxist materialism, its number one value, stamping out religious values. It actually isn't surprising that rap is popular there, it always is in the ruins of socialism, where social capital is non-existent and the state has reigned supreme.
As stodgy and gilded a power structure as the Kremlin is, it is not going to succeed in any manner in repressing it in the name of ordering better values. If anything, the Kremlin will drive it underground and just make it more popular among the young.
We can see how this plays out in any case: Pussy Riot was a disgusting group that interrupted church services in Russia, and sure enough, they got shipped to the Gulag for a stretch, which nobody mourned for, and worse still, the Putinite repression didn't stop them - the talentless collective got much more popular after that one, and human rights champions were all over them, and free trips to Los Angeles followed, so maybe that should be a cautionary tale for Putin.
If the Kremlin is serious about making rap values less attractive to the young, it needs to work on the root causes of the problems, not the expression of it.
Image credit: YouTube screengrab