MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian parliament on Thursday announced a rap song competition amid a crackdown on contemporary music that evoked Soviet-era censorship of the arts.
A dozen rappers have had their shows cancelled recently after warnings from officials who claim that their music promotes the wrong values. At least three musicians have been detained.
In a symbolic gesture of reconciliation, the State Duma announced it would run a competition for the best rap song — but it has to be on the subject of travel in Russia. The winner, according to lawmaker Mikhail Degtyarev, will win a trip around Russian cities.
"We want to give a platform for open discussion and highlight the opportunities as well as drawbacks of this or that town," he said. "If, for example, there is a bad road near a tourist attraction, there should be a video about it."
Rap has emerged as one of the most popular music genres among Russia's youth — and a target for Russia authorities — thanks to its frank portrayal of daily realities and scathing criticism of the government.
Last month, a rapper known as Husky, whose videos have garnered more than 6 million views on YouTube, was arrested for staging an impromptu performance after his show was shut down in the southern city of Krasnodar. A court sentenced Husky to 12 days in jail on charges of hooliganism, but he was released four days later — hours before a solidarity concert in Moscow by popular hip hop artists protesting his detention.
The electronic duo IC3PEAK had six out of their 11 gigs cancelled in recent weeks, and on Dec. 1 they were briefly detained in a Siberian city.