In response to the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, beginning as early as 2014 but reaching a critical apex in the early parts of 2022, hip hop in Russia has only further cemented its role as a “popular” vehicle for the promotion of cultural activism and sociopolitical critique. Born out of post-Soviet antagonism, imperial hegemony, neoliberal commercialism, and jingoist logic, “Russian” rap is a mouthpiece of contemporary conditions. A tangible vehicle for the rediscovery of post-Soviet optimism and the promise of financial prosperity, rap in Russia both upholds and challenges cultural norms and values. In February 2022, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict turned savage, and what it meant to be Russian and be a Russian rapper changed forever. While some rappers rejected Putin’s actions, others either endorsed Putin or stayed silent. Despite the foreignness of rap to the Russian nation, by studying Russian rap and its response to geopolitical unrest the Russian “popular” thought can be more accurately understood. To ascertain how the invasion was conceptualized and synthesized into rap by the Russian rap community, two Russian rap tracks (Oksimiron, Miron Yanovich Fyodorov, Oida and Husky, Dmitry Kuznetsov, God of War) were aesthetically and linguistically analyzed. Lying on divergent sides, they represent polar opposites of Russian rap, each encoding their worldview and position of Russian life in disparate ways, reflecting their respective political voice. While limited in scope, the study provides researchers one possible way to observe how Russian rappers internalize and then aestheticize their political beliefs into their musical style.

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