Putin Says Rap Music Should Be 'Directed'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over the rising popularity of rap music among Russian youth.

Speaking at a meeting with cultural advisers at the Kremlin on December 15, Putin said the music should not be banned but "directed."

"If it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it," Putin was quoted by Russian media as saying at the meeting.

His comments come amid a wave of cancellations of concerts by popular artists who commentators say are channeling the political and economic frustrations of young Russians.

The crackdown has evoked Soviet-era censorship of the arts.

Putin said banning artists from performing would only feed their popularity.

Putin noted that "rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs, and protest." But he said he is particularly concerned with drug themes prevalent in rap, explaining "this is a path to the degradation of the nation."

He said "drug propaganda" is worse than cursing.

Husky, who raps in Russian and whose songs have at times been critical of the government, said his concerts were under pressure because authorities objected to lyrics they found offensive.

After his concert was cancelled in Krasnodar, in southern Russia, he tried to perform from the roof of a car instead, leading to his arrest for hooliganism.

His arrest and sentence to 12 days in jail sparked a public outcry and the rapper was released early.

Putin also addressed the question of how to regulate the musical genre's use of censorious language.

He said that he had talked about swearing with a linguist.

"She told me personally that it's a part of our language. It's just a question of how you use it," he said.

With reporting by Interfax, TASS, and AP