Little Big put on their happy faces for “Public Enemy”

Little Big

When your last videos featured zombies dancing in a junkyard and real-life hooligans beating the shit out of each other, how do you top yourself? For Russian rap-ravers Little Big, it’s simple: Get a bunch of dumb, off-the-shelf Halloween costumes and make a video so relentlessly, children’s-television shiny and happy, it somehow comes across as the darkest, most punk-rock shit you’ve done yet.

“Public Enemy” starts off pretty silly, with Little Biggers Olympia Ivleva, Ilya Prusikin and Sergey Gokk Makarov dressed up as, respectively, a carrot, a banana and a lobster. (Worst smoothie ever.) There’s also a bunch of other folks dressed up as various animals and vegetables, as well as cops, prisoners and that evil clown guy who shows up in all their videos. There’s even a dashingly blue-eyed guy in a turban flying an airplane who can’t possibly be a terrorist because he’s all smiles, right, Little Big? Right? What, what the fuck is happening? Are those the World Trade Center towers? And a bear, the symbol of Russia, biting a Crimea-sized chunk off a map of the Ukraine? Oh, now I get it. You’re smiling ironically. This is secretly a video about how much everything sucks. You got me, Little Big!

This video would probably have a bazillion plays by now, but for some reason, they’ve disabled embedding on it. Maybe they figure Putin will never see it if it’s only on YouTube? Anyway, yeah, it’s only on YouTube. Follow this link if you want to watch it, as I highly recommend you do.

“Public Enemy” is the opening track off Little Big’s first album, With Russia From Love, which is now streaming in its entirety (at least we think it’s the whole thing) on their website. Hopefully they’ll be making more videos for the rest of the record soon, because they continue to create some of the most outrageous, eye-popping stuff this side of Die Antwoord.

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Little Big

Little Big

God bless Die Antwoord. If those crazy South Africans hadn’t pointed the way with their over-the-top rap-rave anthems and even more over-the-top music videos, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have the Polish “Slavschool” hip-hop of Donatan and we definitely wouldn’t have the Russian rap-rave anthems of Little Big, who are basically Die Antwoord after too much vodka.

On one level, Little Big resembles Die Antwoord so much that they almost seem derivative. Their music is glitchy and uptempo; their videos are grotesque, absurb and occasionally shocking; their lead singer is a skinny tattooed dude who used to be a hip-hop-loving performance artist. (Die Antwoord’s Ninja, aka Waddy Jones, got his start doing more high-brow, satirical with projects like Max Normal; Little Big’s Ilya Prusikin honed his mic skills doing raps dressed up as Josef Stalin.) Even Little Big’s two midget members, Olympia Ivleva and Anna Kast, are reminiscent of Leon Botha, the late Die Antwoord collaborator with progeria syndrome—although that’s probably a totally unfair comparison because for all I know, Kast and Ivleva are integral singers/songwriters/producers in Little Big who just happen to be little people.

And yet, for all the obvious indebtedness to Die Antwoord—and, I suspect, to the videos of Donatan—there’s something about Little Big that is thrillingly original, too. Their hyper-kinetic videos are especially addictive, recasting the stereotypical images of Russian culture—the folk dancers, the vodka, the tracksuit-clad hooligans, the drab, Cold War-era military uniforms, even a balaclava nod to Pussy Riot—as the ghetto-fabulous trappings of a non-stop dance party. And even though their music is almost entirely electronic, there’s a manic, gypsy-punk energy to it. They’re like a raver version of Gogol Bordello, especially on their most popular track, “Everyday I’m Drinking”:

And if you thought that was a wild ride, get a load of “Life in da Trash,” in which a junkyard doubling as a zombie prison camp turns into an apocalyptic dance party and, judging from some heavy-handed title cards, a metaphor for modern life. Prusikin told Vice UK that he’s also a big fan of Cannibal Corpse, which makes total sense after you watch this.

Little Big have an album coming out later this month—their first, I believe. They have a pair of album release shows coming up in St. Petersburg and Moscow and just released a new video earlier today to promote them. It’s called “With Russia From Love” and it gives me oddly amorous feelings towards goats. And makes me want to dance like a Cossack on meth.

P.S. Huge thanks to reader Vass for introducing us to these guys. You made our week, Vass!

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Gidropony

Today’s weird band was brought to our attention by a reader called Hola-Ebola, who is rapidly emerging as our new MVR (Most Valuable Reader). Hola-Ebola (“H to the Ezzo” to his friends) also turned us on to Dirty Sanchez. Truly, H-E, you are a veritable geyser of weirdness.

This band is called Gidropony, which is apparently Russian for “hydroponic”–or so says the one English-language article was could find on this band. That article also notes that the band hails from the small industrial city of Saransk, about 400 miles east of Moscow, in what is apparently the Russian equivalent of the Rust Belt. And there’s definitely something uniquely Russian about Gidropony’s mishmash sound, which mixes the crazy videogame synths of chiptune with elements of punk, electro and drum ‘n’ bass in what sounds like some bored Russian kids’ vague, thirdhand idea of what hipsters in Brooklyn must be listening to. They’re like the aural equivalent of cheap knockoff Levi’s, or that fake version of Donkey Kong you downloaded off BitTorrent that bombs your PC with Russian porn pop-ups.

Gidropony, who appear to be made up of a guy-girl duo plus some additional live musicians, call their sound “discoviolence” (also name of one of their records, which you can actually buy on Amazon) or sometimes just “trash.” Occasionally it’s downright catchy, other times it sounds like someone having a Nintendo-induced seizure. And when they make videos for their songs, they really delve into the pop-culture scrap heap, as they do on this fairly mind-blowing clip. Warning: it gets dirty. And we’re not just saying that to get you to watch to the end.

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