Ukraine War Youth Speak Angry Words

A war-stressed younger generation in Ukraine has turned their anger into rap music.

Ukrainian volunteer soldier Otoy puts war into words and strong rap beats. He wrote Lyrics during the Russian attacks.

He said it helps relieve the tension of the fights.

“Russian soldiers drink vodka, we make music,” said the rapper, real name Viacheslav Drofa. The 23-year-old didn’t think he could kill anyone until he shot a Russian soldier in the first weeks of the war.

The Russian invasion that began on February 24 helped build Ukrainian nationalism. This is something Russian President Vladimir Putin did not want. Now that millions have lost loved ones and homes, anger against Russia is fierce.

In Ukraine, the younger generation was born after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Many young people say they can’t imagine feeling anything but hatred for Russia.

Otoy’s lyrics, with swear words directed at Russia and the details of Russian war dead speak from the heart. He lost his older brother, a soldier, in the battle for the Azovstal Ironworks in the port city of Mariupol.

The lyrics express the anger and hatred shared by many Ukrainians towards Russia.

“Enemy” is one of four new songs Otoy wrote while driving ammo and weapons to troops on the front lines. He said of the Russian soldiers: “We are not afraid but we are nauseousbecause you feel vitiated even when your heart is still beating.

Viacheslav Drofa, known as Otoy, holds his rifle during an interview with The Associated Press at his home in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Other Ukrainians also put their anger into the music.

A song by the group Surface Tension is called “We will kill you all”. In it, the singer shouts, “We will dance on your bones. Your mom won’t come for you.” The song, full of swearing, has over 59,000 views since its April 5 release on YouTube.

Iryna Osypenko, 25, was among those present at a music event in Kyiv to raise funds. She was there to watch Otoy.

She said she only had hatred for Russians.

“I hate them and, I’m sorry, that will never change,” she said. “I’m going to explain it to my kids and I hope my kids explain it to their kids.”

Otoy’s older brother, Dmitry Lisen, is missing and believed dead. He was a fighter of the Azov regiment, among the groups that defended the Azov steel plant for almost three months. The defense of the factory came to represent the Ukrainian resistance.

Otoy dedicated his song, “Find My Country” to the defenders of Azovstal. He raps in English with the aim, he says, of reaching people around the world.

Otoy is also working on a collection of songs mostly written during the supply of ammunition to troops in the east. Fighting there has worsened since Russian forces were pushed back from their first offensive on Kyiv.

Song topics include life in war and friendship between soldiers. Other songs are about the life of civilians in times of war and the struggle for Ukrainian freedom. He said the songs had “the smell of war dust”.

“I was actually lying on the ground under the airstrikes and shelling,” Otoy said. He added that he could “smell, you know, like bombs, corpses, dust, blood and stuff.”

“It’s the best way to show your hate, I think,” Otoy said.

I am Dan Novak

Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on reporting by The Associated Press.


words in this story

Lyricsnot. (PL.) song lyrics

expletive nm a word people say when angry, often offensive

nauseous nm feeling upset or like you’re about to throw up what’s in your stomach

vitiated nm something that is not clean or has an unpleasant odor or taste

see -not. when a person views a file on a computer

devote -v. to declare something to be in honor of a person, group or event