“What Did You Do For Hip-hop In Your Years?”: In Memory Of Kirill Tolmatsky

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“What Did You Do For Hip-hop In Your Years?”: In Memory Of Kirill Tolmatsky
“What Did You Do For Hip-hop In Your Years?”: In Memory Of Kirill Tolmatsky

Video: “What Did You Do For Hip-hop In Your Years?”: In Memory Of Kirill Tolmatsky

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Video: Science inspiring poetry | Kirill Tolmatsky | TEDxMoscow 2023, January
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Dmitry Kurkin

With the name of Kirill Tolmatsky, who passed away this weekend at the age of thirty-five, the slogan "Pepsi, Pager, MTV" has become so firmly entwined that this label makes it difficult to discern the artist's real achievement. Meanwhile, Decl, with all the condescending attitude towards him, was the first Russian rapper who really managed to make a career in the image and likeness of Western colleagues. And not just teenage rappers like Lil Bow Wow, but big players with all the shameless trappings of the genre.

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In Decl, Russian hip-hop has finally received the last missing element necessary to transform a marginal subculture into a truly folk genre. Local enthusiasts of urban culture consistently took the yardsticks off the source, adopting both the lexicon and the four pillars of hip-hop (DJs, MCs, bboys and graffiti writers), and fashion, and technique, and gangster impudence, and heartfelt anguish - but still something was missing. For the final exit from the underground, a truly recognizable face was needed. They did not necessarily have to be a Moscow schoolboy who returned from school in Switzerland, where a roommate, who turned out to be the son of the President of Zambia, buzzed his ears with Tupac Shakur and other West Coast. But Decl was perfect for the role of a poster battle: in the fall of 1998, Russian MTV was launched, and soon the teenagers clinging to the screens saw on it both a role model and an object for ridicule.

It’s hard to believe it today, but the kid boasting of his home party, where “the whole district walks, the whole school walks,” really annoyed him with what is called the word “swag” - a pose of self-confident superiority and arrogance. Decl of the late nineties with his very childish show-off was far from the rapture of "rich & beautiful", which later turned into a separate type of business. But even then Kirill Tolmatsky and his team understood an important thing that every Pharaoh now knows: the life of a rapper should be the subject of envy. "Fake it 'til you make it" is one of the main themes of hip-hop formation. The founders of the genre, emerging from poverty and social contempt, never hesitated to boast of luxury - even one they didn't really have. This had its own prophetic alchemy: dollar bills printed on a printer and burned Gucci watches at some point turned into real ones, and cars and mansions rented for filming videos became their own.

Someone had to open this door and let the others inside, risking at the same time becoming the object of universal mockery, accusations of appropriation and falsehood - and that someone in Russia became Decl. Not that he didn’t have to use his fists behind the scenes of show business, and yet: “Street Fighter”, texts about harsh revenge on offenders - seriously? But Tolmatsky Jr., it seems, really believed in this - as well as in the official legend, according to which the idea of ​​the song "Letter" was born independently, and was not copied from Eminem's "Stan". He believed - and in the end achieved his goal. This happened not without the help of his father, hired producers and ghostwriters who wrote the lyrics for his first records - but in this sense he did not differ from many of his overseas colleagues (first of all, the same Diddy).

Decl did not become a Russian Diddi - Tim Yunusov, peering over his shoulder, implemented this model in his place. But in later years, Kirill Tolmatsky drove through several more genre scenarios: an uprising against a producer, which coincided with a rebellion against his father; change of the creative name, which was only half successful (on the posters he remained “Decl aka Le Truk”); passion for Rastafarianism and dancehall; conscious rap and agitation for the legalization of marijuana, and at the same time - dubious homophobic interviews and grumbling to colleagues.

All these metamorphoses have already attracted much less attention - partly due to the fact that the burden of the past of a teenage star is not so easy to get rid of (ask Macaulay Culkin), partly due to the fact that Rusrap had chosen its own route by that time, and Le Truk - your own. And in general, it is understandable why the matured Tolmatsky with the current rap mainstream found a common language only in court, where he dragged Basta during one of the most absurd beefs in the history of local hip-hop: in response to Vakulenko's tweet, who called him a "shaggy schmuck", the rapper filed a lawsuit for damage to his business reputation - and after a linguistic examination he won the case.

Conduct a thought experiment and substitute the then-boy performing the song "Who are you?" Into the present day: his videos would be instantly taken away into memes, and he himself, most likely, would have been hounded. But that Decl was needed by that era and that Russian rap, which was about the same mental age as Decl himself. The pioneers, who are stuffing the bumps so that others do not have to do it, are rarely elected by popular vote in general. Usually it is someone who was in the right place at the right time.

PHOTOS: Sergey Bobylev / TASS, instagram

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