Who is the rapper Husky and why did/does he matter in the context of an international fight for freedom of expression? As of 2020, he has gone to sleep, only to possibly reemerge this year as a newly born Phoenix, born from the ashes of the former rapper Husky Russia once knew. But the more important question is what caused Husky to go into artistic hibernation, and what can his tale of egregious State censorship tell us about the plight of Russian alternative musicians in Russia? Note that I use the word alternative as a broad term for rap, hip-hop, punk, and many other variants of music not deemed 'acceptable' by the Russian government, although I will be mainly talking about Husky and his career as an artist in the rap genre.
Dimitry Kuznetsov, a.k.a Husky is a Russian born rapper from Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia [Бурятия], a country culturally and geographically close to Mongolia, its population consisting of primarily Buryats and Russians (49% to the former, and 53% to the latter). Why is this relevant? Because Buryatia is a mostly agricultural part of Russia and because of this, to have such a strong education and impact on Russia from someone from such a place is quite uncommon, although not unheard of. Husky gained an education from Moscow State University in Journalism in 2010 (2011?) and, because of this, ventured with crews around Russia who reported issues small and large. One can speculate that it was from this avenue, Husky started to see the truth of what Russia and its political pawns were doing to its citizens and the future of free expression. Putin, by 2011, had been in power for eight consecutive years and would be governmentally forced to take a two-year absence from office, only to return in 2012. This no doubt helped solidify what was to become a running theme in his music throughout his career, a push to re-evaluate our relationship with power and control through metaphoric and surrealistic depictions of life.
His first splash in the Russian rap scene was 'Седьмое октября' (7th of October), a cynical response to Putin's birthday which coincides on the same day. In the song, through symbolism and allegories, he highlights the contemptuous nature of the Russian government towards its people, particularly Putin, who, like the song suggests...
"Тут – всея несогласных отрада и рупор –Великан, что от государя по правую рукуВздымает кубок под беленый куполЗа царскую власть за челяди глупость"
Here, in all discordant comfort and horn - the prince's giant right hand
raises a cup under a white dome for royal power over his servants stupidity.
One can only quickly ascertain what Husky is referencing. Still, the remarkable aspect of this first taste of Husky is his ingenious way of using metaphorical imagery to create a highly pictorial scene, a narrative unfolding before our eyes that not only mimics reality but satirizes every element of the depressing nature that Husky has found his art taking birth in. From depictions of the atmosphere of the fiendish banquet held in the 'Kings' honor being described as 'boiling,' to a fictitious fall of an official who ends up kissing the King's right hand, every detail in the first part of the rap is contributing to an air of freakish delight, not on the part of the attendee's, but on the host, 'Putin' and his use of atheistic merry-making, 'Шабаш бьется в конвульсиях пошлости' / Sabbath struggling with vulgar convulsions. Coincidentally, October the 7th in 2011 fell on a Friday, which is the Sabbath day in Russian Orthodoxy and so by adding this line, Husky was giving Russian Orthodoxy a voice, as if to say by Putin celebrating his birthday (by this point 8 years and he was in his 3rd year of 'break'), he was torturing the Sabbath through filling the day and night with horrendous celebrations for a man far from God's eyes.
I will also include some stills from the YouTube video as the cinematography is simple yet extremely powerful. The link will be among them, I highly recommend you watch the video, even if there is a language barrier. Do take note that one