Loud, vulgar and garish, and quick to confuse even robust sensibilities: Big Russian Boss is one of Russia‘s biggest YouTube sensations. In 2016 he was invited to lecture at Moscow State University on successful media branding, and in the month of August the channel received over 190 million views. He’s even made it into the top 50 Russian rappers list. So, why the hype?
Big Russian Boss is a parody of American gangsta rappers, and was initially a vehicle for the creators to mock and satirise American hip-hop culture.
Creators Igor Lavrov and Stas Konchenkov, friends and at that stage amateur rappers, met at high school in the Volga port town of Samara. For laughs, they came up with the alter egos Big Russian Boss (a pimped up kingpin) and Young H&P (his masked associate), and released a few songs under their names. As the duo garnered fans, the idea of an internet show was born, and the Big Russian Boss channel was created in 2012.
Who is Big Russian Boss?
As his story goes, Big Russian Boss is your every-day bad guy from Miami, although he speaks Russian. He surrounds himself with beautiful women, class-A drugs and is always wearing bling, fur coats and big sunglasses.
The characters and their humour has obviously resonated with Russia’s youth, because in just five years, the channel has gone on to boast over 2.5 million subscribers.
Currently in its seventh season, the half hour or so episodes of the programme use an interview format – think Ali G or Between Two Ferns – and Big Russian Boss is considered to be Russia’s number one interviewer in the YouTube world.
The deliberately obnoxious characters interview subjects such as other YouTubers, comedians, rappers and internet celebrities about their work and their lives, as well as giving them little quizzes to compete.
Throughout the episodes, foul mouthed Big Russian Boss talks a lot about his genitals and swears profusely. The programme ends in a complaints and suggestions segment called sis’ki, or tits, where guests are invited to write ideas down on a girl in a bikini.
Perhaps the show has a level of irony or satirical commentary that is misplaced in translation, or perhaps it does not. Regardless, Big Russian Boss’s momentum is growing and he is becoming a rapper in his own right, a testament to his popularity among young Russians. Judge for yourself by watching an episode here (no English subtitles).