The Study of Censorship of Hip-Hop in Russia: A New Avenue for Research?

In preparation for the “Music and Censorship in the 20th and 21th Centuries” virtual conference as hosted by the Luigi Boccherini Opera Omnia Study Center, where I will be presenting on ongoing research I’m doing into censorship of Russian hip-hop, a visual aid has been rudimentarily created in order to help visualize the issue.

Using Tableau Public (and some major elbow grease as I’m not a skilled Digital Humanities scholar, although I’ve written one article about it [it was a conference talk that never materialized]), I have mapped the cases of censorship which are place-specific. These date from 2010 (one of the earliest cases) to 2022 (one of the most recent cases), and demonstrates the landscape of contemporary Russia for hip-hop artists. There are some non-Russian cases (i.e., Belarus, Ukraine), and these provide a certain contextual aura to the map, as bans on entry have also been linked to political position on the Crimean peninsula and cultural influence.

As is visible, the majority of cases come from Moscow and the Western regions of Russia, although a case of censorship was recorded as far East as Yakutsk which seems a remote area for censorship. However, this map provides a clue into the geographical orientation of popular music censorship in Russia, as central Russia has had little to no cases, signaling hip-hop artists rarely venture to those areas. Are there hip-hop artists from those areas? If so, who are they and what do they sound like? Why are they not targets of censorship? Lots of unanswered questions. As the conference paper comes to be formed, I will be sharing more information on the cases recorded below including censorship bodies, reasons, outcomes, etc.

I hope this visual helps you, and click here if you’d like to check out the original.

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