Moscow: Rap Star MC Pavlov. Part I
When we met MC Pavlov in 1995, he was Russia's first -- and only -- rap star. Four years after fall of the Soviet Union, Moscow's music scene was breaking out, with rock, jazz and blues bands playing in cramped clubs across the capital. But rap was still exotic back then, and MC Pavlov (or MD&C Pavlov, as he billed his group), was the man trying to bring it to the masses.
The former drummer for Zvuki Mu, a psychedelic rock band, Alexei Pavlov had first heard proto-rap music back in 1984 through a friend's bootleg tapes. He was instantly hooked. Five years later, when U2 producer Brian Eno invited Zvuki Mu to tour the U.S., he got to see the rap scenes in New York and Detroit close up. MC Pavlov made his debut in Moscow soon after.
By 1995, MC Pavlov was riding high: he'd just released an album called "Ze Best," he was busy with gigs, and he was branching out into funk, hip-hop and R&B. A vegetarian and Hare Krishna since the mid-1980s, he was lean and healthy, and he exuded an optimistic energy that infused his music. With his three dancers, or his "girls," as he called them, he bounced all over Moscow, playing in clubs and making recordings.
We hooked up with MC Pavlov this week, and he's got quite a story to tell about the last 10 years. After 1995, things just kept getting better: "One of my videos won the grand prix for 'video of the year' at a festival of Russian regional TV shows," he told us. He got an ongoing commercial gig doing musical presentations for chip maker Intel. And in 1997, he founded the Festival of Soul and Funk, a three-day extravaganza with shows in multiple Moscow clubs.
Pavlov took another trip to New York in 1997. "I needed to recharge my batteries, to hear some new stuff," he told us. While there, he recorded with jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers and went to numerous clubs. "I would walk around the city in this orange outfit," he says, "And people would go, 'Hey, Orange Man from Moscow!" He made deals with New York record labels to send him information on their latest releases so he could pitch his own TV show about funk back in Moscow.
The TV show never came to pass, but Pavlov did end up hosting a radio show called Funky Time. "We were in about 20 towns," he says. "It was the only radio show about funk music in Russia." Flush with his growing success, he moved out of his parents' apartment in 1999, rented his own place and even built a makeshift recording studio inside. Then, as a treat, he booked a trip to Thailand with one of his dancers, Paulina, for two weeks that summer.
On their first day in Bangkok, the pair visited a Buddhist temple and excitedly took pictures all over the city. On the second day, Pavlov stepped off a curb and was struck by a bus. "It's like in some other countries, where they drive on the left-hand side, you know?" he said. "I looked the wrong way."
The impact nearly killed him. Pavlov was rushed to a hospital, where he immediately underwent three operations. He was comatose for several weeks.
Tomorrow: The recovery, and what MC Pavlov is up to now.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Mark | November 2, 2005 02:14 PM
Posted by: David David | November 2, 2005 06:39 PM
Posted by: Mark | November 3, 2005 12:34 AM