FIVE MICS FOR MAYAKOVSKY: RUSSIAN RAPPERS VS THE STATE

Russian television viewers on Sunday evening were treated to the bizarre sight of Dmitry Kiselyov, a hugely influential television presenter seen as the Kremlin "propagandist in chief," rapping.


For background, earlier this month the wildly popular Russian rapper Husky was jailed for doing an impromptu 30-second performance atop a car, after his scheduled gig was cancelled. Following a public outcry and meeting of top officials at the Kremlin, he was released. An overzealous action by the police, was the official line. On Sunday, Kiselyov declared his support for Husky (a "patriot"), and dropped a few bars of Mayakovsky to prove that rap is actually Russian.

The cringe-worthy reversal reflects the government's struggle to deal with Russia's surging hip-hop scene, which is hugely popular among younger Russians but at odds with the Kremlin's nationalistic social conservatism. As a result venues have recently come under growing pressure to cancel rappers' shows.'

The popular blowback against Husky's arrest clearly caught the state by surprise, and the about-face by officials has defused the situation. But with millions of young Russians loyal to artists whose experience is distinctly at odds with the Kremlin's ideal of Russian life, this may over time be bigger than hip-hop.

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Among the 23 men and women now seeking the Democratic Party's nomination to take on Donald Trump in next year's election, the frontrunner, at least for now, has spent half a century in politics. Former Vice President Joe Biden, first elected to the US Senate in 1972, is the very epitome of the American political establishment.

Yet, the dominant political trend in many democracies today is public rejection of traditional candidates and parties of the center-right and center-left in favor of new movements, voices, and messages. Consider the evidence from some recent elections:

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It's Friday, and Signal readers deserve at least one entirely upbeat news story.

José Obdulio Gaviria, a Colombian senator for the rightwing Democratic Center party, is an outspoken opponent of government attempts to make peace with the FARC rebel group after 50 years of conflict.

On his way into a meeting earlier this week, Gaviria collapsed. It was later reported that he had fainted as a result of low blood pressure probably caused by complications following recent open heart surgery.

A political rival, Senator Julian Gallo, quickly came to his rescue and revived him using resuscitation skills he learned as—irony alert—a FARC guerrilla. CPR applied by Gallo helped Gaviria regain consciousness, before another senator, who is also professional doctor, took over. Gaviria was taken to hospital and appears to have recovered.

Because some things will always be more important than politics.