Somehow someone emerges without, well you cannot live without it. It's like food, like air'
иуда иуда иуда иуда
These words set up Husky's elegy towards those who will ultimately betray and alienate others (him), both governmentally and socially. In this song, from his imagined 2018 album 'Gospel for a Dog' / Евангелие от собаки, Husky presents a depiction of the biblical figure of Judas Iscariot not in the traditional sense, as someone who gives up Jesus to Sanhedrin, but as a tangible representation of that which rebels against the system, here the Patriarchs / Jesus Christ. In my analysis of the text and its connected symbolism, I must make the public disclaimer that I am not fluent in Russian but know enough, with supplementary materials, to coherently translate his words to something reasonably accurate in English. The tools I used were Reverso Context and Google.
The song's overall structure is relatively standard: Prologue, Pre-Chorus,1st verse (Couplet), Chorus, 2nd verse, Chorus, 3rd verse, Chorus (+2 lines). What makes this song interesting, besides the evocative text of a scene of mistrust, revenge, and turmoil, is the programmatic sense of each verse and the continual narrative aided with references to a plethora of different, outlandishly obscene topics that not only support the text but seem compulsory for a correct reading. For example, Хаски (I will be referencing his name as the Cyrillic version for the remainder of the article) uses a reference to Gazenvagen, which were reinforced vans that were purposefully constructed to hold prisoners, up to 20-50 prisoners at a time and gas them to death. You can think of the van as a mobile gas chamber, and according to the article linked, these were constructed in China and Belarus. Not surprising knowing how utterly evil the Chinese government is, but I was genuinely shocked about Belarus. However, upon further reading what was more shocking was the rampant use of these Gas vans in the Third Reich, but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised at the atrocity that they created and that the Russians adapted and the Chinese still use. The context in which Хаски uses this word will be displayed in due time.
We will start from the beginning and work our way through a few lines that I find incredibly poignant. First, we have to look at the Prologue. I will be writing the translation and not the Cyrillic for length and for ease of reading for those who choose to read this far! I will be going line by line, giving my interpretation of the line as best as possible! Let’s go!
1. And somehow someone emerges without it, well you cannot live without it. It’s like food, like, air Judas: What is being alluded here could be a couple of things. One could be crime and betrayal; Some can live without deception and be content, but for Judas and others, rebelling against the powers that control is as natural as air and food. Two, one could perhaps rephrase it and say that some can live with any indoctrination of any kind, religious or otherwise, but for ‘you,’ that isn’t an option. To live under control is as necessary as food and air.
Here we get into the first verse!
2. Extensively spitting out in someone’s hut on the Patriarchs: This line may be incorrectly translated, but the essence of the sentence is not lost. The act of spitting on the hut of the Patriarch, in this situation the ‘Patriarch’ being Putin and/or the Kremlin as an Institution of political corruption, is politically charged because of the egregious violations on expression they have committed not only on Хаски but so many others across the country.
3. I drive bulls at the railing, waiting for his KIA Rio: This line is a bit cryptic, although I think I know what he is saying here. A bit of preface to the car reference, as it may be vital, although I am not sure how much. The KIA Rio is the only model of the South Korean car currently available in Russia, and so this could be a symbol for the daily person, the ordinary person who is not wealthy but indeed not poor. The act of driving the fictitious bull at the ‘railing’ could be alluding to one’s impatience to wake up those who are not aware of their ignorance, hence why Хаски is so obsessed with Judas.
4.Although the retro lisps in the taxi, With a getaway car we will smash the heel and arrive at home soft-boiled: Now I must admit that I am not sure where one thought ends and another begins, but if I link these two thoughts together, you get a fascinating pictorial image that is created. The fact that there is a taxi perhaps is a sign of the outdated nature of Russia, or maybe the interior of the taxi is outdated, thus making the taxi fit into the 21st mainframe with outdated parts? The second part of the line perhaps alludes to the biblical symbolism of the heel as evil's control over humanity, this interpretation coming from Genesis 3:15. This would coincide with the biblical nature of the rap itself, and by using the Genesis portion of the bible, Хаски could be satirizing the control that religion has in Russia over its people. The 'soft-boiled' analogy could be more of an emotional state than anything else; thus I won't dwell on it here.
We have now arrived at the first iteration of the Chorus.
5. Flies in a glass of wine, ah: Because of Хаски's future reference to a sticky Russian dessert, I hypothesize that what he is talking about here is people getting caught in rhetoric, lies, and deception by those in power and the 'drunk,' almost mindless obeying that many Russians operate like in Russia.
6. What will go on after me, ah: Self-explanatory but Хаски is questioning what his legacy will be after he is no longer as if his existence is meaningless because he is rebelling against the State. Concerning Judas, he betrayed Jesus or, in a different way, 'rebelled' against a ruling ideology and therefore was shunned, scorned, and now has a negative connotation to his name.
7. New cartoons of the day, ah: This is a running theme with Хаски, this symbol of cartoons and a 2D way of operating in space and time. His 2017 album, "Любимые песни (воображаемых)" / Favourite Songs of Imaginary People, explicitly depicts a caricature depiction of this cartoon concept, described by a commentator as a depiction of the ugliness of the modern world. Indeed, when looking at Song 13, 'Cartoons,' one can observe how Хаски perceives himself in his mind and the challenges that he has to persevere. From his statement of 'being tired of living this life' to a fervent cry to be killed but only resurrected the next day, 'I shout to you: "Kill the author, kill the author, kill the author, but you extinguish me until tomorrow."
8. They will scarcely share with me, oh: They, being a reference to Хаски's feelings of isolation and seclusion from those in society, the musical atmosphere in Russia and most likely his fans as well. The Russian Government has shown him a hyper-level of attention in the form of relentless censorship and heavy-handed treatment. Thus, one could construe the 'sharing' that is not going on is simply freedom of any kind, artistic, or otherwise.
9. Who from you all will betray me, ah: This is a blatant allusion to the Last Supper and the revelation given by Jesus Christ to his twelve disciples, "And while they were eating, He said to them, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray Me." It is as if Хаски has turned the intention of the line on its head. Instead of the 'evil' party being Judas, the 11 disciples are now representations of 'passive' Society and Jesus Christ as the Russian Government. In this vein, Judas asks who will give him up as a freethinker and dissident of the mainstream consciousness?
10. Obliquely, he will not be able to cool off in time, oh Judas: This is another example of translational error creeping in on my part as the word косой translates to oblique, askew, not straight, and adjectival version of these words. The issue is how it is being used in the sentence as if the word is omitted; the sentence makes perfect sense. It is when one adds the adjective that the meaning becomes a bit abstract for an English speaker. The 'he' in this situation could be Judas, or in another reading could be the one who will betray Judas. The 'cooling-off' could be an allusion to the elevating agitation on the part of the one who will ultimately commit the act of betrayal. Having read into the first part, now placing the word косой back into the sentence, we can see the meaning change a bit. Obliquely: not straightforward, this definition could be our ticket to understanding its role in the sentence above. If 'they' cool off in a deviated way, then what could be ascertained is that through censorship and various forms of artistic policing, the Russian Government is 'cooling itself' off. However, that must be taken with a grain of salt.
In my efforts to not make this post inordinately long, I am going to transfer my time to the study of 5 distinct lines which are taken from the 2nd verse, the third verse and the final chorus. Each of these lines hold within a specific word that highlights Хаски’s ingenious way of using topical themes and placing them within a narrative that brings out the poignancy of the topic and also transmutes the meaning to signify a contemporary issue. I briefly talked about some of the words in the preceding paragraphs at the top, but I will now go into more detail and supply context along with the line to aid my interpretation.
2nd Verse, Line 1: People cling like Kozinaki: This dessert, made of peanuts (sometimes walnuts or other available nuts) and a sticky caramel substance, is a popular dessert in Russia called a ‘brittle type candy’ which uses quite a lot of sugar to help keep weight during cold winters. It is being used here as a descriptor of people who are like sheep and cannot operate alone. They must stick together, whether they want to or not, and even if it means they will perish or give themselves a worse quality of life.
2nd Verse, Line 2: Whether elevator or Gazenvagen: This line continues the thought from the previous one, and builds upon it using subordinator ‘whether.’ But what is the second part of the sentence is evocative of Хаски’s sentiments to those who go out of their way to censor, bash, hate, ban him and his music from being heard. He uses two ‘cages’, one of a mundane usage and one of a heinous, villainous usage. Both of these vehicles transport people but in a vastly different fashion, thus Хаски is commenting on the tendency for group mentality doesn’t only operate on the trivial level but among higher-ups and on governmental platforms as well.
3rd Verse, Line 1: In my players are Pederasty: Yet another line that seems a bit hard to translate and put into an English grammatically correct sentence, but I will give a go. The word плеере literally means player, in reference to a MP3 player, CD player or another electronic device that can play a variety of media. In this context, what is being alluded to is Хаски’s player is now filled with pederasts, those who have sexual relations with young boys, usually through anal penetration. Why is this significant? Because not only is this term not widely used but the concept dates back to the time of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. To use this highly archaic word to describe (unfortunately) modern pedophilic activity is almost a looking back while looking forward notion, to show that as much as we have progressed, there are still holdovers from the past that refuse to leave.
Second Verse, Line 6: I am bored with your melodrama, your estrus and your hole: The usage of the words ‘estrus,’ ‘hole,’ and melodrama all seem to mesh together to create this symbiosis of meaning that creates not only a more robust understanding of what is being construed, but a intimate observation of Хаски’s outlook on the actions being taken against him in Russia. He is tired of all the useless drama and commotion made for what? So Putin and the Government can hide behind their mile high walls and dish out brutality? He is sick of estrus, which is defined as the sexual period in which female mammals are in heat. This evidently is being used to symbolize the Kremlin’s oestrus period, as they are in the ‘heat’ of suppressing any and all opposition to their rule and ordinances, both socially, musically or otherwise. One word that stands out is the final word, дырка, which translates to hole or cavity, perhaps symbolizing that which is missing, their humanity and ethical morals?
The last two original lines of the entire piece to me are quite powerful, because although they are in the Chorus, which the listener has already heard before, with the addition of these two lines, it feels much more palpably austere. The lines are, “Someone will squeal on me, I kiss you Judas.” Knowing what has happened to Хаски, from his arrest to ‘community organizations’ finding problems with the music’s content, this first section feels almost prophetic in a way, as if to say that no one can outrun betrayal no matter who you are, Stalin or God. The second part is the most admiration line in the entire piece, here Judas is being fervently praised as a hero, savior, a juxtaposing force against Jesus. Some could read this as sacrilegious, but I would say one has to consider in what context this line is being said and interpreted. It is not defaming Jesus Christ, instead reinterpreting what Jesus Christ stood for and represented as a leader of a movement.
After carefully reading through the text to this song, one can deduce the eloquent way that Хаски brings to the rap sphere in Russia. He simultaneously exhibits cynical observations of the way one lives when subjected to totalitarian control, but also, through carefully crafted allusions and imagery, challenges concepts of power and authority, even the most sacred of subjects aren’t safe. He uses references to frightening subjects as a prophetic tool. He subjects the listener to ruminations of what has become of a world festered with greed and ideological control, and rather than disregard the past, he utilizes it completely. His first song, October 7th, released on Putin’s birthday in 2011, alludes to many of the same principles spoken in this song: the dictatorial nature of religion in Russia and the betrayal of morals by Society and its surrender to tyrannic rule of any kind, both religious and secular. Indeed, in Russia religion is inextricably linked with the State and to remove one would be to remove the other, but this is how it has been for ages in Russia. In fact, this was how Russia was founded and only by introducing concepts of secularism was Russia turned from Muscovite dominated to European dominated, thanks to Peter the 1st. But then Tsar's found that by using religion, they could gain much more control than if they actively sought a secular nation, and thus modern-day Russia was born.
Husky will rise again, and when he does Russia will still be under Putin's control, but I hope that he will have an answer or at least some line of action that will help push his ideology out of the mind's of youth worldwide. We don't need a new Stalin, Lenin, Brezhnev. What doesn't make sense to me and to the many other members of Society that understand the extreme danger of having a Government run by REAL Communists/Fascist idealogs is that nothing good can come from this, no matter what your intention may be. The purpose of the October Revolution was noble; Remove the Tsar and their egregious hold on power and bring it to the people. What happened in justification of this end goal was heinous and caused hell on earth for so many innocent people. The ends NEVER justify the means, and if Russia can understand this and if America can understand this, then perhaps we could live in a much better world. #copslivesmatter