If instinct alone isn't telling you that Russian hip-hop is cringe-inducingly awful, perhaps this Reuters story, detailing some ridiculous music awards show in Moscow attended by Vladimir Putin, will do the trick. It recounts the Beatles-like reception received by the country's wildly popular shadow president, who lectured the assembled hip-hop fans to stay in school, not to do drugs, and watch out for strangers offering polonium tea. A sample of the awfulness:
"I do not think that 'top-rock' or 'down-rock' breakdance technique is compatible with alcohol or drugs," Putin told cheering hip-hoppers who responded with chants of "Respect, Vladimir Vladimirovich."
The cultural setbacks of Soviet communism are, it seems, worse than we ever anticipated. After saving the youth center alongside Turbo and Ozone, the former KGB agent attracted the attention of blubbering Russian talent scouts, who idolize the hip-hop way in which the former president turned downtown Grozny into a full-scale recreation of the 1970s South Bronx:
Putin, wearing a turtleneck sweater and jacket, went on stage to present awards to participants in "Battle for Respect", a hip-hop music contest run by Muz TV, a Russian rival to MTV.
"It would have been cool to record a joint track with Vladimir Putin because he is a legendary man and our idol," sang rapper Zhigan who won the contest. "Let's make so much noise in his honour that the whole world can hear."
You can watch the president's bizarre performance here, in Russian. As the Putin Youth cheered their idol, authorities in Moscow were evicting two prominent human rights groups, both of whom have sharply criticized the Kremlin, from their state-owned office buildings.