Following his performance at the opening of the adidas Creator Base in Moscow, we spoke to Russian rapper, Pharaoh. A trailblazer for the next generation of Russian creatives, and at just 23 he's built an incredible fan base and is tearing through the scene.

Having committed to football at a young age, he stepped away from the game despite being on the books of three top tier Russian sides in the search for music. His decision has paid off and having opened the adidas Moscow Creator Base, he set the tone for the strongest introduction to the World Cup.

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Can you tell us a little bit about your footballing past?

Yeah, I've played for three different teams. All were in the Russian Premier League. As a young player I was with Dynamo Moscow, Spartak Moscow and Lokomotiv Moscow. I’ve played the game and it’s part of my history. I was playing for around seven years and I was very much planning to be a professional player, but then I found music and that passion took me in a different direction.

How does it feel to host the World Cup in your country?

For me, while a lot of my concentration is on music, I have a football past so it’s pretty cool. My focus is on music now but it’s a new experience for us all. The city centre is so busy, there’s police everywhere so I’ll probably keep my ass at home and enjoy it all on TV. I’m looking forward to it.

For people around the world who may not have heard your music, how would you describe it?

The vibe and everything like that, I’d say it’s kind of like the new punk era. I’m trying to bring influences from a lot of different genres together. I’m inspired by all kinds of music so a lot of rock stuff, a lot of classic music through to hip hop, everything. I try to create music that expresses myself and who I am. I’d say that it’s aggressive and cold. There’s a lot of rage in there, but it’s cold.

There’s a new style of punk music coming through in Russia, is that something you’re helping to create?

Definitely. There’s a new thing going on here that is different to the rest of the world. Even in Russia, I stand out as a different person compared with a lot of the population. The generation I’m part of and the people who like my music see things differently, we see life from a different perspective. I was born and raised in Russia so naturally, I’m different to musicians that may come from America or whatever. That in itself inspires me. Having that mentality is what sets us apart.


How would you describe yourself as a creative?

I’d say that I’m doing modern art. I’m more of a modern artist than a musician. I try and piece it all together to create something whole. So it’s the visual pieces, the sound pieces – putting that jigsaw together to create modern art is how I see myself.

Do you see the World Cup as a chance to introduce more people around the globe to your music?

I haven’t really thought or approached it like that. I’d almost think about it like I want to show people from all over Russia what my music is about. Those people who live in s**t surroundings who need a way out, hopefully my music can help with expression. The World Cup gives us a chance to put events on and celebrate these cultures together, it’s special for all those people in Russia as much as all those people who come here from around the world. We must all enjoy it together.

What should people who come to Moscow experience?

Moscow is a strange but interesting place for people who come here from other parts of the world. It may seem all new and people may not understand how it works in general. It’s not about the Red Square and all those tourist spots for me. There are a lot of beautiful parks with beautiful nature in them. Those are the places I think people should go. A lot of poets and writers have come here and written here having got inspiration from this place. It’s a magical place with a lot of energy. There’s a lot of art here.


Read more Russian features in '32/12' magazine by SoccerBible. Pick up the special 2018 Russia World Cup edition here.