Tatar Reggae Star Singing for a Multicultural Crimea
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|'Izzet's music is full of references to 'people' 'homeland' and 'protest, things he believes to be both
close to the reggae philosophy and illustrative of the current mood among the Crimean Tatars'
Tatar reggae singer Izzet Ablyazov is one of a new generation to be connected to Crimea following the Stalinist deportations of the Crimean Tatars in 1944. His music is full of references to 'people1 'homeland1 and 'protest', things he believes to be both close to the reggae philosophy and illustrative of the current mood among the Crimean Tatars, but he rejects any notion of conflict with Crimea's Slavic residents, insisting, "There is no need to fight over Crimea - there is enough for everyone." The singer grew up in Kyiv as one of the first Tatars to be able to move to the European part of the USSR following relaxation of restrictions which had previously kept the Tatar population shut up in the Asiatic Soviet regions.
"I never felt quite so spiritually at home as in Crimea," he explains of his love for the peninsula. "I first visited when I was five years old and was overwhelmed, but I only really began to feel so passionately about Crimea after my grandfather died. He had been intensely proud of his Crimean heritage, and after his death in 1992 I became fascinated by the history of the Crimean Tatars. I studied how they lived, their religion, language and culture. You must understand that Crimea was always a dream for most Tatars living in exile, seen only in photos and pictures, but now we have been allowed to return." Izzet sings in both English and Crimean-Tatar, and sees his music as a reflection of the international heritage of the Crimean peninsula. There has been much discussion in the national and international media about the increasing instances of clashes between Tatars and Slavs
in the peninsula, with talk of a brewing ethnic conflict, but Izzet rejects such claims. "The most common trend now is for intermarriage and mixed families. Tatars can often be found visiting their Ukrainian neighbours for vodka and a pork sandwich. Things have changed and the old laws are not so strictly enforced. Any conflict could only be the result of provocation from parties
interested in upsetting the ethnic balance in the region," he reasons. Izzet is no stranger to mul-ticulural exchange, having learned English among Kyiv's African community while studying English and music. "I remember their friendliness and humour. They taught me reggae first, and later African rhythm music. Their music reflected a deep and ancient relationship with their people, and
I have attempted to reveal my relationship to Crimean Tatar culture in the same way through my music." The Crimean showbusi-ness scene is not particularly well-developed, and Izzet usually performs in Kyiv. His debut album, 'My Security' is available in stores across Kyiv. You can catch him live at European Square on Independence Day (24 August).