Legalize: “I Understand Everything. 42-year-old Rapper Sounds Like A Failure "

Legalize: “I Understand Everything. 42-year-old Rapper Sounds Like A Failure "
Legalize: “I Understand Everything. 42-year-old Rapper Sounds Like A Failure "

Video: Legalize: “I Understand Everything. 42-year-old Rapper Sounds Like A Failure "

Video: Legalize: “I Understand Everything. 42-year-old Rapper Sounds Like A Failure "
Video: Чебатков – стендап для мозга (Eng subs) 2023, May

The clip of Bad B. Alliance "Hope for Tomorrow" is one of the most important markers for those who are over 30 today, and one of the first breakthroughs of hip-hop into the mainstream of Russian show business. Andrey "Legalize" Menshikov is the only member of this short-lived rap group, who remains in the limelight today. In the fall, he made a splash by releasing an unexpectedly social video "Stagnation 2.0", which became the first news from the album "ALI", which was released on all digital platforms on April 24. On this occasion, we talked to Legalize about how he decided to record an album about the state of affairs in the country and remember the past. Well, since hip-hop was and remains almost the most democratic style in world music, the conversation also naturally went “you”.

- Let's start with a simple question: why is the album about contemporary Russia called "ALI"?

- (Laughs.) Yes, it somehow happened by itself. I had some technical names - LWA (by analogy with the rap group NWA - "RBK Style"), "Everything except bees". And then I wrote the word "Legalize" in Latin letters and just saw it inside it ALI. And I realized that this is a good name. Mohammed Ali was one of the first rappers - he also mocked his rivals with rhymed verses. In addition, he is actually an international symbol of a freedom fighter. Well, in general, you say "Ali" and everyone immediately understands who it is about.

- Well, yes, or Mohammed or Ali Baba.

- Ha! Well he was a tough gangster too. (Laughs.)

- Tell me, how did it happen that ten years passed between your first and second solo albums, and now you release one disc every two years?

- Well, there was also a conditional break between the first ones - before my debut solo album I had already been in sight for almost ten years … In fact, this break is connected with the fact that everything happened to me at once: writer's block, fear of the second album - all in a heap. Many talked then about career suicide, but confidence in their abilities and the habit of taking everything to extremes helped. Then I had to get out, make some unnecessary movements and mistakes. But now it seems to me that everything was correct, and now I have matured to a full-fledged calm statement. Without a desire to somehow additionally attract attention or please. Just high.

Photo: Maksim Serikow
Photo: Maksim Serikow

© Maksim Serikow

- It sounds like a return to the roots - in an amicable way an old-fashioned sound, almost no one does that in our country today. How did you come to this?

- By the way, this is interesting. I have a Serbian friend Milan, DJ Milando, whom I know almost only on the Internet - we saw each other only once. And formally, we were at the same time in the Moscow hip-hop party, when it was still small in number and elite, but for some reason did not intersect. Even then, in the nineties, he was doing production, he was very good at rap. Then he went to his homeland in Belgrade, works as a computer engineer. At the same time, he has a studio in his basement, where he continues to make music for himself, growing from the classics of rap on which we both grew up. In short, he has been sending me his beats for many years, and I have always been very sorry that I could not use them in my work. Well, because I'm a mainstream artist, they won't understand, it won't go on air …

We still live in the Soviet Union, people need chorus singers, the melody they are used to. I've always forced myself to walk this edge of pop. But one fine evening Milan sent in another beat. I liked it wildly, I again complained that I live in an imperfect world and cannot afford to use such music … And then there was a click, and I said to myself: "What the hell?" I am an adult uncle, I am almost 43 years old, there is an audience that expects me to do what I really want, without simplifications. Plus, the country has already matured, absolutely underground dudes are becoming the stars. Rap has become part of the cultural code. So I said to myself: "Andrey, just do what you want." As a result, I recorded this album faster than all the previous ones. I finally got on my own turf, ALI is based on music,that shaped me. It was easy.

I have matured to a full-fledged calm statement. Without a desire to somehow additionally attract attention or please. Just high.

- “ALI” is your most evil, most social and politicized record. No ballads, no Young Moms. The video "Stagnation 2.0" shocked many …

-… by what the main pop singer said harder than the underground. Sorry, I looked in the mirror, and I have a crown on my head. (Laughs) It just felt natural. The older I get, the less the distance between what I feel and what the song says. ALI is just my story. In these songs - a cut of the feelings of my generation, those who survived the nineties. As for the social sphere and politics, this has been accumulating for a long time, and at some point I just realized that I didn't want to feel like a scoundrel.

- In what sense?

- In the sense that in my music I do not speak about what is worth talking about. At the same time, I do not blame anyone. I myself have tried for a very long time not to pay attention to what is happening in the country. And then something clicked - after "Krymnash", probably. I began to read various sources, political scientists, to understand. Before that, there was a deep sleep, suspended animation. And not understanding why I don't like what I'm trying to write at all. It turned out to be something plasticine, dishonest. When I came up with "ALI", I immediately had a concept, which Alexey Serebryakov articulates at the beginning. This parallel arose - a return to the time when I started. Something like that was spinning in my head - first stagnation, then perestroika, 1991, Yeltsin speaks on August 21.

I still have a personal story there. I had to go to the World Karate Championships in Japan. I was returning from a sports camp near Moscow to the city with tanks. For three days the country was closed, I was sure that there would be no trip. Tickets to Japan were on the 21st just. And so I wake up, and Yeltsin says that everything is fine, we won. And that means I'm flying, the border is open. Blue sky, waving flag - I will remember this feeling forever. I had this image in my mind when I was recording the album. I wanted not to return to the roots, but to feed on them, to remember how I started, to stop adapting to the listener. What word to choose here …

Photo: Maksim Serikow
Photo: Maksim Serikow

© Maksim Serikow

- It's called zeroing.

- (General laughter). A very scary word. It seems that when it came into use now, a black hole opened. And now Kashpirovsky goes online, and Legalize is releasing a new album - and again [very good]. In fact, it is important for me that this is not retro, but on the contrary - moving forward on the basis of classic developments and what I can do best at this stage of my development.

- Now, how did Serebryakov appear on your album?

- I wanted this text to be in the beginning - about the fact that if the time required for protest returned, then whether protest music should return. I wanted the actor to speak this text. I generally like whole albums that sound like audiofilms or audiobooks. My first thought was about Garmash, but then I realized that Serebryakov was more suitable. I endlessly adore him - both as a person and as a professional. On the set of the video “Stagnation 2.0” a person who had his contact worked with us. I wrote him a letter, he answered very quickly and agreed to read the text. Then there was a challenge, how to record it in Toronto, but, fortunately, everything worked out.

- This is a text about the return of the nineties. Do you really have that feeling?

- Yes, for many symptoms. But everything, of course, will be different. Recently a friend sent me photographs from those times - broken porches, teenagers with glue. The sensations were paradoxical: on the one hand, it was awful, but on the other, everything was so familiar. It is not for nothing that Serebryakov says on the record: "The country saw the horizons and sighed." It is very important for a person to see the horizons. And now we are all well-fed, but there are no horizons. The ultimate dream is to become a deputy of United Russia.

- Now let's get back to you personally. Do you even understand yourself that you are almost the only active rapper whom many of our readers remember from school? And that you are a dinosaur for them.

- Yes, that's why Godzilla is on the cover of ALI! Hi, my name is Andrey, also known as Legalize, also known as Thank you for your childhood. (Laughs.) It used to be strange, sometimes annoying, but now, you see, I've even learned to joke about it.

Photo: Maksim Serikow
Photo: Maksim Serikow

© Maksim Serikow

- And who and how do you feel now?

- Ha! Cool question! Yes, I feel like a rapper! (Laughs.) Actually, I understand everything: a 42-year-old rapper sounds like a failure. And for me the last years have been years of searching for answers to some unpleasant questions: who I am, where and how should I move on. In the end, it turned out that you just need to do the only thing that I love and can do.

- Can you somehow appreciate the difference between what rap was when you started and what it is now?

- I can, probably, but here we need to make a reservation. First, I look from the inside, which means I am biased. Second, over the years I have learned to surround myself with what I like. That is, I monitor something, but I don't live on the agenda. I, roughly speaking, do not have a TV that is always on. I watch what I like, listen to music that I like - American, mostly.

As for Russian rap, there are, of course, some obvious things … Previously, rap was an elite thing that only a few people did. The first Russian rap recordings were distributed on cassettes. When, after 20, I decided that I wanted to do this professionally, I did not understand at all which side to approach. This is a very strange, unusual genre, very American, at that moment it was not clear here. You turn on Public Enemy to a person from Orekhovo, but he doesn't understand what it is at all. By the way, I remember how the clip “Shut'em Down” was shown in “Program A” in 1991. We were sitting at the table with our parents, we had someone visiting. And then this begins here. Everyone was shocked, there was a silence, and some person who was visiting said: "What disgusting." And little Andrey, who at that time was sitting on the floor, thought to himself: "What a thrill." I wanted to belike these black dudes, it was just a desire for self-realization, an attempt to get out of the surrounding "scoop." As a result, I figured out how to translate it into Russian - I left for Africa, closed there for a long time and returned with Russian texts.

- Do you feel like part of a community today? I have a feeling that you are on your own …

- This is an open question, it seems to me. On the one hand, we all do rap, on the other hand, you can't put us on the same shelf. 25/17 grow out of Russian rock, Husky is a little Yesenin, I'm his fan, Basta found a connection between rap and author's song … Everyone is different.

- And you?

- Well, I'm a little punk. Vasya Basta would have taken place as an artist and musician in any era and in any genre of music - simply because he is musical. I'm just a rapper. I wouldn’t exist if it were not for Public Enemy, Ice T and Ice Cube tapes. I am aware of this and it suits me.

I wanted to be like these black dudes, it was just a desire for self-realization, an attempt to get out of the surrounding "scoop."

- So you don't consider yourself a musician and you never wanted to be one?

- Absolutely. I never intended to be a musician, I was always tongue-tied and didn’t think too well. I have a rather intelligent family, my father is a professor of chemistry, and they planned to send me there. Before rap, my main passion was karate. In short, when they call me a "musician", I myself find it funny. For me, hip-hop is a cube of amateurishness, but always very honest. I only exist because of the rules of rap culture.

- Can you formulate them somehow?

- Truth and rhythm. Probably so.>

Popular by topic