In Ukraine, an angry voice for a furious generation

KYIV – From the battlefronts of Ukraine comes rap music — full of the anger and indignation of a younger generation that, as soon as the combating is finished, will definitely always remember and will by no means forgive.

Ukrainian rapper-turned-volunteer soldier Otoy is placing the battle into phrases and thumping baselines, tapping out lyrics beneath Russian shelling on his telephone, with the sunshine turned low to keep away from changing into a goal. It helps numb the nerve-shredding stress of fight.

“Russian troopers drink vodka, we’re making music,” says the rapper, whose actual identify is Viacheslav Drofa, a sad-eyed 23-year-old who hadn’t identified he may kill till he had a Russian soldier in his sights and pulled the set off within the battle’s opening weeks.

One of many ironies of the Feb. 24 invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin is that in ordering the destruction of Ukrainian cities and cities, he’s fueling one of many very issues he needed to extinguish: a rising tide of fierce Ukrainian nationalism, cast within the blood of tens of hundreds of Ukrainian lifeless and the distress of hundreds of thousands who’ve misplaced family members, houses, livelihoods and peace.


Simply as many individuals in France discovered it unimaginable to absolve Germany after two invasions a quarter-century aside in World Wars I and II, younger Ukrainians say three-plus months of brutality have stuffed them with burning hatred for Russia.

In France, antipathy for all issues German lasted a generation or extra. Solely in 1984 — 4 a long time after Nazi Germany’s capitulation — have been French and German leaders Francois Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl in a position to stand hand-in-hand in reconciliation at a WWI monument in France full of bones of the lifeless.

In Ukraine, the younger generation born after the nation’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 likewise say they can not think about feeling something however disgust for Russia for the period of their lifetimes.


Otoy’s lyrics, with selection expletives directed at Russia and stark descriptions of Russian battle lifeless, converse from the center — he misplaced his older brother, a soldier, within the siege of the Azovstal metal mill within the devastated port metropolis of Mariupol.

However additionally they give voice to the chilly fury shared by a lot of his friends, now pouring out in music, in artwork and tattoos, on-line in hashtags proclaiming, “dying to the enemies,” and memes focusing on Putin, and in fundraising activism for the battle effort.

In “Enemy,” one in all 4 new tracks that Otoy penned between and through stints on the battlefield driving ammunition and weaponry to front-line troops, he snarls of Russian troopers: “We’re not scared however we’re nauseous, since you scent stale even when your coronary heart nonetheless beats. Bullets await you, you sinners.”


He imagines a taunting dialog with the widow of a lifeless Russian soldier, singing: “Properly, Natasha, the place is your husband? He’s a layer in a swamp, face-down. Natasha, he gained’t come dwelling.”

Others are riffing off the battle, too.

In the furious heavy steel observe “We’ll kill you all,” the band Floor Pressure screams: “We’ll dance in your bones. Your mother gained’t come for you.” The expletive-laced observe has gathered greater than 59,000 views since its April 5 launch on Youtube.

Iryna Osypenko, 25, was amongst concertgoers at a fundraising music pageant final weekend within the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, the place Otoy gave a fiery efficiency. She broke down in tears as she defined how the rising reservations she’d had about Russia earlier than the invasion have scaled up into rage.

“I hate them and, I’m sorry, it’s going to by no means change,” she mentioned. “I’ll clarify it to my kids and I hope that my kids will clarify to their kids.”


Otoy says that if he has youngsters, he’ll do likewise, telling them, “the Russians have been killing my household, killing my brothers, my sisters, bombing our theaters, hospitals.”

“It’s not simply that I don’t like Russia, I hate this nation, and I hate Russian individuals as a lot as I can,” he mentioned in an interview in his Kyiv house, the place he data and shops his weapons and fight gear.

”If I had the flexibility to avoid wasting the lifetime of a canine or the flexibility to avoid wasting the lifetime of a Russian soldier, I might decide the canine.”

His older brother, Dmitry Lisen, is lacking, believed lifeless within the bombed-out ruins of Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks. He was a fighter with the Azov Regiment, among the many items that clung doggedly to the surrounded plant for practically three months, changing into an enduring image of Ukrainian resistance.


Otoy devoted his music, “Discover My Nation,” to Azovstal’s defenders — rapping in English with the goal, he says, of reaching “individuals all world wide.”

“That is my lands, you boys ought to depart,” he sings, holding a rifle and wearing fight gear within the observe’s video on YouTube. “Miss these Fridays we used to have, kisses, twilights, refuse to sleep. Now we troopers.”

His duties of late have included serving to at a army hospital with the triage of our bodies from Azovstal, turned over by Russian forces in an change. His brother’s stays are nonetheless lacking.

He’s additionally engaged on his assortment of songs largely penned throughout repeated ammunition runs to troops within the east, the place combating has raged since Russian forces have been pushed again of their preliminary assault on Kyiv.


Themes embody life on the entrance and the camaraderie of troopers, war-time life for civilians, enmity and combating for Ukrainian freedom. He says the mini-album reeks of “the scent of battle mud.”

“I used to be truly mendacity on the bottom beneath the airstrikes and bomb shelling,” he mentioned. “You may truly the texture the scent of, you recognize, like bombs, lifeless our bodies, and mud, blood and different stuff.”

“That is one of the simplest ways to point out your hate, I believe.”


Hanna Arhirova contributed to this report.


Comply with AP’s protection of the Ukraine battle at

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