Art During Wartime Podcast Examines Cultural Beauty of Ukraine, Kicks Off Its Second Season With Rapper OTOY

Art During Wartime, a podcast that examines the beauty and richness of Ukrainian culture, kicks off its second season with an interview with rapper OTOY, one of the most conceptual Ukrainian rappers today.

The podcast was conceived by Ohio native David Junk, who first started working in Ukraine in 1999, not long after the fall of the Soviet Union, as a record executive for Universal Music. At the time, no other Western record label had ventured into Ukraine. David played a pivotal role in opening Universal’s first branch office in the country, which was a major boost to the early development of the Ukrainian music industry.  Check out the podcasts here:

As Vice President of Universal Music, he was instrumental in defending the rights of Ukrainian songwriters and combating music piracy controlled by criminal groups. Under his leadership, Universal Music soared to become Ukraine’s most successful international label. This achievement was largely attributed to the Ukrainian youth’s love of Hip Hop and rap music from Universal’s premier labels, Interscope and Def Jam Records.

Now, David has created Art During Wartime to keep Ukraine on American listeners’ minds. The podcast focuses on art and culture instead of military or political topics. “Americans need to know that Ukrainians are fighting for their culture,” David explains. “Russia has overshadowed Ukraine for centuries. That’s happened nowhere more profoundly than in arts and culture.”

Because of this overshadowing, most of us know much more about Russia than Ukraine. The Art During Wartime podcast will hopefully contribute to more Americans becoming aware of the beauty and richness of Ukrainian culture. And the understanding that Ukraine is not Russia. Listen on Spotify here:

The star of the first episode of Season 2, Ukrainian rapper OTOY is an award nominee, and is widely recognized in Ukraine for his original style and visual aesthetics. He highlights living stories that resonate with everyone who gets to know his work,  and his outsized energy during performances will not leave anyone indifferent!

Music has accompanied OTOY since childhood, after his mother gave him his first hip-hop cassette by A Tribe Called Quest. This was then followed by music lessons at school and jams on the streets accompanied by his guitarist friends. In his work, he promotes values such as a respectful attitude towards women, the importance of mental health, and the preservation of local traditions and cultural characteristics.

In the inaugural episode of Art During Wartime’s second season, OTOY talks about his first music impressions and influences, the balance between his UX designer job and his music career, how the war has impacted his music, and how it felt to be on the frontline.