Alarmed by the growing popularity of rap music among Russian youth, President Vladimir Putin has emplored cultural leaders to devise a plan of controlling, rather than banning, the popular music genre.
During a meeting with Russian cultural advisers on Saturday, Putin cautioned against attempts to ban artists from performing because it could have an adverse effect and bolster their popularity.
“If it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it,” he said.
Putin noted that “rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs and protest.” But he is particularly concerned with drug themes prevalent in rap, saying “this is a path to the degradation of the nation.”
He said “drug propaganda” is worse than cursing.
Putin’s remarks come amid a recent crackdown on contemporary music that evoked Soviet-era censorship of the arts.
Last month, a rapper known as Husky, whose videos have garnered more than 6 million views on YouTube, was arrested after he put on an impromptu performance after his concert was shut down in Krasnodar, Russia. His lyrics address poverty, corruption and police brutality.
During his arrest, the rapper told his fans: “I will sing my music, the most honest music!”
Along with Husky, two other contemporary artists have been getting shut out of venues as club owners have been pressured to not let them perform. The duo group called IC3PEAK was on a Russia-wide tour when six of their 11 shows were canceled.
One of the members of IC3PEAK told the Associated Press that while they haven’t received any “official statements” telling them not to perform, being turned away by venues and owners “are just ratty methods of fighting against art.”
Another rapper called Gone.Fludd, recently announced that two concerts were being canceled. The reason behind it was pressure from “every police agency you can imagine,” they said. And hip-hop artist Alij canceled a performance after getting violent threats.