On the 17th of December 2018, Vladimir Putin made the following statement about rap music at a meeting of the presidential council for culture and arts in St Petersburg:
“Rap and other modern forms of art are rested upon three pillars – sex, drugs and protest, I am most worried about drugs. This the way towards the degradation of a nation”
After making this bold statement, Putin did add that an effort to ban it would be impossible, so therefore his idea was to control it. The western media reacted with its usual subtle negative reports. The same media that is telling you “Baby it’s cold outside” isn’t appropriate enough anymore since the #MeToo era. All the while rap music and its many excesses will rarely be covered by them. Some people might think of this as an intrusion of the Russian state in personal and artistic liberties, however, there is a case to be made for this involvement of the state, as there are some negative consequences to certain forms of rap music that should be recognized.
The degradation of a nation
Putin, like any sane man, has come to the conclusion that music that is often made by (ex)-criminals who rap about the crimes they committed, the crimes they want to commit, the drugs they use, the drugs they sell, the gangs they are in and materialism, might not be the best thing for your nation. While one has to admit that there is actually some decent rap music out there with a semi-wholesome message, the vast majority of rap music is different. While I cannot directly prove that rappers’ X song has led directly to specific crimes or behavior, the problem with rap music remains that it creates a culture in which drug use, crimes, casual sex, and materialism are glorified. While this may not make a lot of impact on stable adults, children and teenagers are a totally different story. Not only does rap music glorify degenerate behavior, but it also normalizes it. It’s impossible to exactly measure the consequences of rap music on a society’s culture, but we can recognize it in individual cases when we see it. The question seems to be: what can be done within reasonable bounds to control this potentially destructive genre of music
What is to be done
Some common sense reforms could go a long way in making rap a more constructive or less destructive force in society. For starters, it could be made illegal to glorify gang and drug crimes in music, which would seriously hamper the worst rap artists out there. We could mandatorily force providers of music and video platforms to better validate age before they play certain content. A system of increasing fees could provide a solution to protect minors from harmful content, which is especially relevant in the internet age where young children can be exposed to nearly anything while browsing unprotected. An additional benefit is that the providers get stuck with a problem and therefore have less of an incentive to provide a platform. The Russian government bans the performances of certain destructive artists. We could do the same and even add a ban on them recording music. In the digital age this would simply never work, but if we were to employ a system of high fines, we would yet again create less of incentive to create this particular genre. One might ask how all of this can work while neighboring countries happily keep producing rap music and putting it online. The fans of right wing YouTube, however, know perfectly well that it is very possible for a platform such as YouTube to censor videos with specific content for certain countries. These kind of plans aren’t bulletproof, but they would create real
The cost of doing it
Controlling rap music as a genre to prevent the degradation of the nation seems like a valid move. However, there is a cost. The cost would be that the concept of “artistic freedom” would be well limited by any mentioned action. Every attack on freedom can be seen as a slippery slope and as precedence for others. However, in most Europeans countries this is already the case for specific books, music, and videos. We as a people have a choice: to let our fellow countrymen glorify crimes and extreme degeneracy in music or to take a stand against it.