5 Russian hip hop artists that deserve to get noticed
To many people, Russia is a mysterious country. Luckily enough, you can learn more about it by listening to the local hip-hop heroes. These 5 Russian artists have turned the rap game upside down with their refreshing sounds. They are the voice of the young generation and the symbol of the upcoming changes. Not only in the rap industry but in society as a whole.
Article by Lilia Kaberova
‘Lonely star’ is probably one of PHARAOH's most lyrical songs, one that refers to his image as an artist: bright, enigmatic, untouchable. Pharaoh emerged in the scene in 2016 and eventually became a key figure in Russia's rap culture. He was the first hip-hop artist who gave impetus to Russian thrill wave by mixing ephemeral beats with emotional lyrics about loneliness, misunderstandings and fake values. PHARAOH’s style, which was considered as cloud rap at first, has been gradually evolving and eventually turned into dark glam-rock.
"I do not want to be handsome, I do not want to be rich. I want to be a machine gun, shooting faces." Husky, famous for his aggressive rap and neurotic performances, is one of the most extraordinary hip-hop artist from the city of Ulan-Ude. Yet, he is rather perceived as a rap poet due to the somber, philosophical lyrics that are filled with complicated metaphors, alliterations and assonance. His rap poetry is a radical statement and political provocation. Husky often touches social issues like Russian politics, genuineness of religion and poverty. Four of his video clips are prohibited in Russia because they are seen as dangerous political dissent.
Rich and immensely sad. Raised in northern Ufa, Depo had a severe and challenging childhood and that reflected in the gloomy lyrics of his first songs. But at this point, with his huge fur coat and Gucci sunglasses, Depo is rather considered a playful, sometimes absurd rapper. In his recent album ‘Stay ugly’, he talks about Russian folk motives, mixes cheerful vibes with lyrics on the inevitability of death and betrayal and thinks about the real value of art. Depo frequently features his alter ego PowerPuff Luv in his own songs, which allows him to experiment with sounds, play around and simply have fun.
FACE is one of the most eccentric and provocative players in the rap game. His bangers highlight hedonism and luxury, but also talk about teenage problems, depression, and love affairs. You could describe his genre as minimalistic trap or emo-trap, with superficial lyrics and ridiculous exclamations inspired by Lil Pump. FACE’s first clip about Gosha Rubchinskiy cost him around 3 euros, but immediately went viral in the UK, reaching over 11 million views. More recently, the rapper has launched an extremely controversial, politicized album that talks about today’s Russian reality. The unexpected release immediately devided his fans.
‘I am a foreigner everywhere’. T-fest is famous for mixing hip-hop with other music genres, like country or jazz. His somnolent and melodic rap mostly talks about genuine feelings and emotions he experienced himself. As the rapper states it: sharing profound experiences can lead to deep connections and can help other people to understand themselves better. His style can be identified as a hedonistic rap, with a focus on the desire to achieve goals and living the best life.