Conclusions

Thorough exploration of these songs by means of social network analysis of co-occurring references, bar graphs, and analyses of each reference subject shows that these artists are in fact presenting militant Slavic Nationalism. The subjects they frequently refer to and the values they are promoting to their wide listener base of Russian-speaking youth clearly correspond to the traditional ideology of Slavic supremacy.

References

Below is a list of all the references in the songs with a count of their overall frequency in the corpus. The positive and negative percentages show the proportion of said references that presents the subject in a positive or negative light. If the percentages do not add up to 100, the remainder is neutral, which was ambiguous. The corresponding descriptions summarize the meaning of the references and show how they communicate Nationalist rhetoric.

Interpretation

Our research endeavors have served to support and illuminate our initial hypothesis. Our primary references ended up as war, strength, and violence, all themes closely linked with one another and heavily emphasized by the three artists, although each takes specific contexts in the cultural framework in which these artists are working (explained in greater detail above). It may seem surprising that war is portrayed in a positive light. However, these artists frequently use metaphors of war to portray foreigners, substance abusers, politicians, and anyone with whom they disagree, as an enemy that must be defeated. The common references to war show a strong underlying "us vs. them" mentality, with the "us" consisting of members of the Russian or Slavic race who are fighting to defend their country. These themes are further strengthened by common references to collectivism and brotherhood. See our references page for examples of these and other references.

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References to drugs and alcohol were also frequent, as initially suspected, with a negative connotation for both as indicated by the large number of negative attribute values in these songs (for instance, only one reference does not have a negative attribute value in both "Алкотестер" and "228 это статья такая," which are primarily concerned with alcohol and drugs, respectively) and war, with a positive connotation shown by the opposite occurrence. Because most of these artists’ songs are part of a sub-genre of Russian rap that promotes a healthy lifestyle, they repeatedly portray drugs and alcohol in a negative light in an attempt to discourage listeners from abusing these substances. These artists are trying to counter what they approach as the cultural popularity of drugs and alcohol among Russian-speaking youth by means of sarcasm, mockery, and scorn of their users.

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One of the things we were most interested in were the connections between various references; which references frequently occurred in the same songs, and what this might reveal about the reasons used to motivate action and change in listeners. To explore this, we used Gephi to create a social network graph displaying these relationships, which can be viewed here. This provided important insight into the strength of connection between various themes in our corpus and some unexpected and interesting perspectives; for instance, strength has a strong connection to war, which is reasonable, but it also has a strong connection with religion, a less expected and wholly more intriguing connection. An interpretation of these types of connections reveals some of the subtler themes coursing through this decidedly brash genre.

Clinging tightly to idealized tradition with selective historical nostalgia, Nationalist rappers are reacting to inevitable globalization in the only way they know how——advocating war and closed-minded rejection of new ideas. Although they aren’t necessarily urging their listeners to start a war, the constant metaphors and reminders to be prepared for a fight are sure to invoke a mindset of cross-cultural animosity that could easily erupt into large-scale violence.

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The strong beats and lyrical artistry of this new style of music that has lost all connection to its minority roots strongly appeals to young people, providing them with a stable identity as members of the Slavic nation and laying out a clear course of action for self-improvement. They promise listeners that cultivating a strong body and soul and selflessly defending the collective will give their lives meaning and purpose. The amount to which these powerful but sinister messages in Healthy Lifestyle Rap influence the young generation will determine the fate of Russia.

Future Developments

Only one English translation has been completed so far (click here), but we intend to periodically update this site with additional translations to increase accessibility to non-Russian speakers. Further research on this topic could focus on tracing the origins of these ideas to various influences throughout Soviet and Russian history, along with observing the ramifications of this genre on society and youth culture, as popular, influential, and polarizing as it is.