If you are a fan of Russian rap you’ll have definitely heard of Basta, or his other incarnations Nogano and N1nt3nd0. All three are the creation of Vasiliy Vakulenko, but each of them has a different face. The lyrical Basta, the brutal Nogano and the cybernetic N1nt3nd0 are used to send his message out to the Russian-speaking world. On this occasion we speak to the first of his personas – Basta.
Basta 4 has been three years in the making. What took you so long?
Alongside working on the album we were also involved in creating N1nt3nd0 – hip-hop in South American style. N1nt3nd0 is about gangsters and tracks of the 90s like Cherniy Pistolet (Black Gun), Mama ama Kriminal (Mama ama Criminal), Pulya Navylet (Bullet Right Through) and so on.
Tell us about the track list on Basta 4 – is there an overarching theme or message?
It’s sad in the beginning and bright at the end. The track Eto Vse (This is Everything) – is definitely the light at the end of the tunnel.
Listening to your tracks, rap seems to be your passion, devotion, and lifestyle. Why would you say rap is so close to your heart?
Rap is a comfortable and open form of narration for me – it’s how I like to communicate.
Do you remember when you first experienced this genre? What attracted you to it?
When I was a child I listened only to metal: Biohazard, Black Sabbath and so on. When rap came on the scene and became more mainstream, it was something completely new for me and so it went further. Onyx, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Wu-Tang Clan – they were my favourites. It’s easy – rap is riot, protest. Rap replaced punk and rock.
Speaking about how you got your start, your grandmother was your first musical mentor. Were music lessons a disaster for you at that time?
Yes and yes. My granny was Alla Razdaybeda, who was from Kyiv by the way.
Tell us about your journey into music – what happened along the way?
I was walking, falling, getting up and walking further. This is the way of every man.
What do you think about your popularity, does it come with some responsibility?
Of course, responsibility is important. I’m from Rostov-on-Don, so I know what it means to be responsible. (Smiles)
Usually it’s the young who listen to rap, but as they get older move onto other genres. Is the rap framework getting narrow for you, have you thought of branching out into other forms of music?
Well, you’re not completely right about the youth. Rap is the most developing genre. Analysis of the hip-hop industry shows rap is listened to by people 13 to 60 years old. Can you imagine that range in any other genre?
Some of your tracks have a political subtext – is it a creative protest against what’s happening in Russia? Did you get any calls after the song Solntsa ne Vidno (No Sun is Seen) was released?
This is not a protest. This is just what’s happening around me. I didn’t get any threats, at least not yet.
Your songs draw a picture of your personality as being uncompromising, straightforward, brutally honest – surely somewhere deep inside you are romantic and perhaps even somewhat sentimental?
You are 100% right! I’m pleased you understand me and my work.
Basta (RU, rap)
18 October at 19.00
Tickets: 250 –1,200hrv
Stereo Plaza (Kikvidze 1)
by Kateryna Kyselyova