Rap Battle at the Davidov/Рэп Битва в Давыдове
Ул. Давыдова, д. 5
Start at 5:00 pm
Cost: 300 ruble entrance fee
For the interested and enthusiastic seeker of revels, Vladivostok can easily be classified as a place of wonders. I am happy to say that I was both a spectator and a participant in one of these rather amazing events.
On November 17, what is probably the largest rap battle in Primorskii Krai (the administrative entity in which Vladivostok is a city) took place in the Davidov – a club in the Vtoraya Rechka neighborhood of Vladivostok. This was extremely surprising to me as unlike St. Petersburg or Moscow, Vladivostok is a very reluctant market for homegrown rap acts. In fact, were I not part of one of the participating acts, I most likely would not have gone, as I would have expected the turnout and performances to be lackluster at best. Oh how fortunate it was that I was forced to come!
Upon first arrival at the club, the building looked rather tired on the outside and it seemed that only a few people were milling about; I took it for a bad sign. But as any experienced hand in Russia will tell you: never judge the content of a Russian building by its façade. The club was rather posh, with a long, winding staircase up into the main club area, which had its own seats and possibilities for lounging. Once inside the main club area, another set of stairs led down onto the main dance floor/stage area, which was nicely decorated and interestingly lit, and which also boasted small, booth-like grottos off the main floor for those who wanted to retire for a moment from the festivities. Also inside the place was packed! Literally hundreds of people were waiting to cheer the contestants on.
First, however, there was a live concert, performed by the DJs/judges of the rap battle that was to come. This portion of the program, while somewhat entertaining, not only ran a bit long, but was also rather self-serving, as the DJs themselves are prominent area rappers. After almost an hour, however, the hosts finally wound their own performance down and put the spotlight on the contestants. I will not lie to my readership; some of the performances were brutally awful, in fact at least half. However, through it all I was really glad to see a vibrant and thriving underground rap culture growing in Far Eastern Russia. In the interests of giving a completely fair impression, let me say as well that there were some truly excellent acts, as well, among which was that of the contest winner Aleksei Kolganov, who combined a reggae-like style with nitty-gritty Method Man-esque street rhymes. All in all, it was an eye-opening experience for me. A good time was had by all, the drinks were only 150 rubles a piece (which is extremely cheap for Russia, where the average drink will run you about 300 ru) and my group, Double, was a crowd favorite. Can’t think of a much better way to spend a Saturday afternoon!