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The word on the street

Rapper Timati real name Timur Yunusov grew up in Los Angeles and claims to be the only real hip-hop and R&B performer in Russia.

Published: January 18, 2008 (Issue # 1340)



  • Rapper Timati real name Timur Yunusov grew up in Los Angeles and claims to be the only real hip-hop and R&B performer in Russia.
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

  • Rapper Set says hes not a fan of Timati.
    Photo: Igor Tabakov / The St. Petersburg Times

Its midnight in the mirrored changing room of a nightclub on Novy Arbat. A posse of dancers and backing singers waits patiently for Russias best-known rapper, Timati, who is due to perform at a corporate Christmas party.

Boys in baggy pants and hoodies practice dance moves, while a girl pouts in front of the mirror in a tiny skirt and patent high heels. When a song by Snoop Dogg starts up in the distance, they all mouth the lyrics.

As Timati makes his entrance, wearing a headband, a black beanie and sunglasses, the mood changes. The group runs up to him, performing a handshake choreography of various clicks, angles and slaps until the rapper feels that he has greeted everyone adequately.

Talking about his career, Timati said his background gives him the edge over his rivals. In Russia I am the only real hip-hop and R&B performer. I grew up in Los Angeles, I know the culture from inside out, I know the music inside out, he said.

Timati, whose real name is Timur Yunusov, may be the closest that Russia has to a rap star. He was born in Moscow to a wealthy, ethnically mixed family his father is a Muslim and his mother is Jewish. His privileged background enabled him to spend three years studying in Los Angeles.

He became famous after appearing on the television talent contest Star Factory in 2004, although he didnt win. He and three other contestants were taken on by influential producer Igor Krutoi who formed a group called Banda. In 2006, he released a solo album and played the role of a rapper in the hit comedy film Heat.

Today his MySpace site lists friends including P. Diddy. It posts a video clip of a collaboration with Xzibit, the rapper host of MTVs Pimp My Ride, alongside the required tough, tattooed and topless photos.

And Timati is certain that Russia loves hip-hop. Just last week, 50 Cent was packed; Beyonce was sold out [in October], he said. When Shaggy came here five years ago the seats in the cinema were less than half full. Interest in this music is definitely increasing.

The 24-year-old singer grew up listening to music by U.S. hip-hop artists Naughty by Nature and rapper MC Hammer and wanted to rap for as long as he could remember. He concedes that he came back to Russia where he raps in Russian because the U.S. hip-hop scene was too difficult to break into.

I wanted to perform, but the market was full, he said. At the end of the day, I am Russian and its better for me to be in my own country and develop the genre there,

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Nov. 26


AmChams Public Relations Committee will meet this afternoon in their office in the New St. Isaacs Office Center on Ulitsa Yakubovicha at 4 p.m.


Zoosphere, an international exhibition focusing on the pet industry, opens today at the Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island. Not only will items such as toys, terrariums and accessories be available for purchase, but animal enthusiasts can also learn about the latest in veterinary medicine and behavioral training thanks to the conferences and presentations that are part of the event.



Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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