Scriptonite Russian Kazakh Rap

The Story Of Scriptonite: Kazakhstan Arrives in Russian-Language Hip Hop

Published: December 10, 2021

Scriptonite’s vocal style is unusual. Sometimes he raps or sings, but other times he shouts or goes into a sort of bizarre whaling that sounds like he is crying. This may come across at times as comical to outsiders, but to a fan of the music, this gives it a sort of relatability marked by extreme yet soulfully genuine displays of emotion. His rap delivery is also often offbeat, coming across more like slam poetry but lacking slam poetry’s rigidness, giving it a looser and more unpredictable freeness.

Scriptonite’s production style is also unusual. It might be considered rap beats but much of the sampling is done using live instruments in the studio. The sound is then processed to give it the sort of vintage feel you would expect from American rappers of the 90s such as Mobb Deep. The drums are the most orthodox of the production selections with modern, bassy samples.

Finally, he combines all this with elements of folk, blues, and world music. This makes for an unorthodox combination of sounds which to many western rap fans appear extremely alien at first listen. The overall product turns out sounding somewhat low-fi and a bit unsettling, but it is also an original and compelling contribution to global hip hop culture.

History of Scriptonite 

Adil Oralbekovich Jalelov was born July 3, 1990, in the former Soviet Union, in what is today Pavlodar, Kazakhstan. Adil has tried to keep his personal life private as he has continued to gain fame however, as of 2021 it is known that he has a girlfriend and daughter. From an early age, he became interested in the hip hop music that became increasingly popular after the fall of the Soviet Union. Scriptonite speaks and raps in Russian but its is important to note that he refers to his music as “Kazhak” and not “Russian” rap. Even though Scriptonite has not publicly stated why he selected his pseudonym, most fans speculate it is a reference to Kryptonite from Superman as Adil has a Superman tattoo on his chest.

In 2009, Scriptonite, alongside several Kazakhstani rappers, formed JILLZ, a rap collective. While the group really only achieved local success, it served as a gateway into the industry and allowed Scriptonite to build a name for himself, establishing respect for his role as the frontman. Scriptonite’s resulting following helped make his first solo single, “VBVVCTND” a success.

This single caught the attention of Basta, a fellow rapper part-owner of the Gazgolder label. He signed Scriptonite and began collaborating with him. The hype building around Scriptonite culminated in the release of his debut album Дом с нормальными явлениями (House with Normal Phenomena) in 2015. The album garnished praise from fans and critics alike, establishing Scriptonite as an undeniable force in the industry as well as proving his versatility with tracks spanning from club hits to emotional stories of heartbreak.

Scriptonite’s biggest year came in 2017 when he released three chart-topping albums. Праздник на улице 36 (Feast On 36 Street), Уроборос: Зеркала (Ouroboros: Mirrors), and Уроборос: Улица 36 (Ouroboros: Street 36). These also achieved critical and public praise and spawned several hit songs including Scriptonite’s most popular work to date. The single Цепи (Chains) proved a durable club banger that is still popular today. His track “Ламбада,” with labelmate T-Fest, currently has surpassed over 100 million views on YouTube, an accomplishment only a handful of Russian-language rappers can claim. It is also worth noting that Scriponite has collaborated with established Russian performers, but also acts from back in his days in JILLZ such as fellow Kazhak rapper Niman on the track “Поворот (Turn)”.

In 2017, Scriptonite’s unusual sound caught the ear of Diplo, a platinum-selling American producer, and earned him a feature with Major Lazer, one of Diplo’s side projects, on the single “Where’s your Love.” Diplo, having produced for Beyonce as well as Justin Bieber, fit with Scriptonite’s search for global trends to influence his production techniques.

Scriptonite launched the experimental Gruppa Scriptonite in 2018 as a side project mixing rock and electronic influences to its hip hop. Their performances feature a live band, showcasing a more sophisticated degree of musicianship. Their experiment has also paid off, with their 2019 single “3×3,” for instance, performing extremely well on the charts.

From 2017-2021 Scriptonite has continued to expand his sound and release popular singles such as his 2020 track “Москва любит… (Moscow Loves…).” He has also helped launch the careers of fellow Kazakh rappers 104 and Truwer.

Scriptonite’s Place in Russian and World Music

Scriptonite is uncompromising in his vision and originality. This is not to say that he is oblivious to popular trends as he states himself that he is heavily influenced by legends such as Jay-z and Eminem. However, his ability to take the familiar sonics and aesthetics of his hometown and popularize them on not only a national but regional (and to an extent even global) level with audiences unfamiliar with Kazakhstani traditions gives him an aura. It is as if his music exists in a bubble, sounding entirely different and like nothing before.

The most important achievement of Scriptonite has been his ability to help establish Kazakhstan as a respectful birthplace for broader Russian-language hip hop. His remembering his roots, and bringing many of his early local collaborators to the broader scene has also been commendable and instrumental in this, but also to many of Scriptonite’s hit releases.

Scriptonite serves as an example of how remembering your roots when entering broader markets can be an asset towards your success by setting you apart and making you original.

About the author

Brendan Stohler

At the time he wrote for this site, Brendan Stohler was studying on SRAS' Diplomacy and International Relations at MGIMO University. He earned his bachelor's degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and majored in political science with a concentration in international relations and a minor in Russian. For his career, Brendan planned to make music or to do something that focuses on cultural aspects of international relations between the US and Russia related to music. In his free time, Brendan enjoys making hip hop and EDM music as well as going to the gym and meeting with friends.

Program attended: Challenge Grants

View all posts by: Brendan Stohler