If you think Russian music is all about cheesy keyboards and crazy costumes, Kirill Tolmatsky is here to prove you wrong. Better known as Detsl, Tolmatsky is Russias most famous rapper. At only 20 years old, however, Detsl isnt your average rapper. He fused his love for hip hop and his love for Rastafarian culture into one.
LifeStyle met with Detsl one Friday evening and discovered the rapper had much more to talk about than just his latest album, "aka Le Truk," which he just released on Universal Music Russia.
Youve lived in America, how would you say Russia compares?
Russia is a specific country. Freedom in Russia has only existed since the 1980s. Freedom in America has been around for ages. But I know the situation here is getting better and its getting worse in America because of the government. The government is forcing people to be scared. You cant even smoke inside the buildings. People who work in an 80-floor building have to go all the way downstairs to smoke and still they get kicked out of the entrance. You cant even smoke near the building. Thats just one example that shows how individual freedom in America is being restricted.
What about freedom here? Better or worse?
Here its getting better. Were gaining individual freedom big time. In Moscow, you can do anything you want, open any business. You just need a good idea and you can make big money. Our government system is getting straight. We still have a ways to go, but its starting to get straight.
Businesses come and go so quickly here its crazy
Its anarchy! As soon as you have a little bit of money, a plan and some connections, you can turn your original cash into big money. In America and England, there are big taxes. Here, its only 13 percent. Russias opening up. Its an attractive country to start a business in because its not developed.
What do you think about violence in rap?
For me its funny when people in America talk about being from the ghetto, shooting and stuff, people getting killed on the streets. Here, it happens all the time, you can see it everywhere.
Youre looked at as the face of Russian rap. What do you think about that?
Im one of the people who is trying to make [rap] popular. I tried it five years ago, but people couldnt get it they needed time. Now, I have a new album. But Ill stop recording in Russia because its too hard for people to understand. You have to do it through America so people here feel that something is going on that were not isolated from the world, but were together. Meanwhile, people are gonna keep doing it better and better here and thats when Im gonna come back and do it in the Russian language and do it for the people here. But, in my mind, I have to first go to America and make it there
So your plan now is to go West?
My plan is simple I have a full laptop of songs in English. A lot of people in the West already heard some of my tracks and they really think theyre cool. Theres no one like me there. If I succeed there, I succeed here and Ill bring real hip hop here. Im sure Ill succeed. The most important thing is to approach people the right way and I think I have it.
Youve grown up a lot since your last album. How did you change?
After my first album came out there were a lot of things going on around me. Stuff was going on so fast I couldnt follow and figure things out. And it all influenced me. I started to date this girl. I was so in love with her I was crazy about her. But this caused some problems with my parents, because they didnt like her. She was one of those, you know, "rich girls." Still, she taught me a lot of things and changed my worldview. She taught me how to see what was going on around me in a different way and changed my attitude toward music and show business. She taught me how to see things as they really are. That was the time the label I was working at broke and I stopped communicating with Sheff. There were a lot of bad and tough things that I was going through. All this, together with marijuana, changed me and influenced me a lot.
Whatever happened with this girl?
We broke up. But I found someone who helped me work through the break up, so that I could express my feelings in my songs and not start hitting the bottle or anything, you know. This person helped me figure out what life is about and what religion is. I started to learn spiritually.
Is this all reflected on your new album?
Of course. When I was going though all that I was writing songs the whole time songs for my new album. It really reflects what was going on with me and my life.
For a year and a half I just wrote about everything I saw and felt. I signed a new contract and now I work with people who are just like me. They think that show business in Russia needs to change for the better and we know how to do that. I also got acquainted with [TV host] Asya Kalyasina, who helps me, as well. She called my album one of the most quality products on the Russian market today.
Is there any underlying meaning in your latest album?
I work for the truth. I speak the truth. Moscow is a big city and there are a lot of temptations here, which can change or hurt anyone who comes here. I have the information and I want to share it. I want to tell people that there are all these traps out there, but that its possible to overcome them and stay a good person.
I also want the people in Russia to know and feel hip hop. I have been abroad, I know what hip hop is from the inside and I am ready to share this. We live to collect information and share it with other people. And thanks to my parents, I had the chance to travel a lot and gain experience and knowledge that Im ready to share.
What are your hopes?
We all live on the same planet and we cant escape it. And if more people will unite, while producing positive emotions, we can hope that eventually well be somewhere with one religion for everybody and live in a better world, realizing that God is inside every single one of us. But at the same time we shouldnt forget about all thats going on in the world. We should be aware of everything. We should see and think about all the violence and terrible things. And despite all that, we must remain pure in this world. Of course there are fears that stand in our way, but we have to fight the fears. I hope we overcome the fear and reach spiritual perfection.
How would you describe your lifestyle?
Rasta. Its a lifestyle, not a trend. Its the same with hip hop. Im a Rasta and a rapper. I found the middle ground, where I feel comfortable. I dont drink or sniff cocaine and Im aware of things around me. I have the information and Im ready to share it. Its up to you whether to accept it or not.