No Face, No Case: Russian Hip Hop and Politics under Putinism
This article explores the phenomenon of Russian hip hop as part of a creative resistance movement in contemporary Russia. It argues that hip hop, which originally came to Russia during the country’s 1990s infatuation with the West, links back to a long-standing tradition of music as counterculture in a Russian context. By placing Russian hip hop within a general shift of popular culture towards intellectual notions of political responsibility, this article discusses the emergence of a socially conscious form of high hip hop in Russia, contextualising it within the specific anti-Western and anti-intellectual cultural atmosphere created under the Putin regime. By investigating Russian hip hop’s ties with the country’s intelligentsia heritage and its relation to counterculture during the Soviet era, this article addresses two underlying concerns: what ‘case’ can be made against contemporary Russian hip hoppers, and what this conflict tell us about the contested frontline between popular culture and politics under Putinism. While the work of several Russian hip hoppers will be discussed as part of this analysis, particular attention will be paid to recent tracks released by the rappers Husky and Face.
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