The world’s first rapper was actually a Soviet poet, says Russia’s culture minister

The world’s first rapper was actually a Soviet poet, says Russia’s culture minister
Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1910

17 October 2018

Hip hop might have come to life in the United States, but the first rapper was really one of the Soviet Union’s greatest poets — at least according to Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky.

Speaking at the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi, Medinsky named Vladimir Mayakovsky as an original MC, claiming that rap would soon be recognised across the world as a new Russian artform thanks to the country’s openness to new artistic movements.

“Ballet isn’t a Russian invention, but now it’s known across the world as part of Russian culture,” he said, according to Russia’s RIA Novosti. “For a long time, this love for rap among Russia’s urban youth annoyed me. But I started to try and pay a little more attention. I talked to my son and listened to what he was listening to, and I started to get the sense that sooner or later we’ll also say that rap is a Russian artform,” he said.

For now, it appears that Medinsky’s reinvention of Mayakovsky as a rap star has already gained some fans. “I told my son that the first rapper was Mayakovsky,” he said. “He told everyone in his class. They read [his poetry] and they all agreed.”