Vasily Vakulenko (Basta) is a popular Russian rap artist, composer and TV and radio presenter. The famous rapper proved himself not only in music, but also achieved special success as a screenwriter, director and producer. Also known under the pseudonym Noggano.
Childhood and youth
Vasily Mikhailovich Vakulenko was born in Rostov-on-Don on April 20, 1980 in a family of military personnel. His parents had nothing to do with the art world, but noticing that their son had musical abilities, they took the boy to a music school.
Basta as a child with her mother
After graduating from secondary school, Vasily decided to continue his path in the world of music and became a student at a local school, choosing the conducting department. But in his youth, the future rap artist realized that conducting was not something that would be useful to him for self-realization. As a teenager, he showed interest in a new phenomenon for Russia in the 90s - rap culture.
At the age of 15, the young musician wrote the first rap text, and at 17 Vasily was taken into the group "Psycholirik", soon renamed "Caste". In his native Rostov, Vakulenko was known as Basta Hryu. During this period, a rap-style debut track called "The City", recorded by Basta, appeared.
The musician celebrated his 18th birthday by writing a new song "My Game". "The City" and "My Game" quickly glorified Basta far beyond the borders of his native Rostov. Gradually, the artist's compositions became more and more popular.
Basta and Guf in their youth
From that moment on, Vakulenko, along with his friend Igor Zhelezka, who is also a rapper, began touring the cities of the Black Sea coast of Russia. They went on a kind of musical tour of the Krasnodar Territory and even the North Caucasus, performing at a variety of venues. At times, 6-7 thousand fans were gathered at stadiums. The artist began to have problems with drugs, and concert activity quickly came to naught. The singer has not performed concerts for several years.
The rap artist's creative career resumed in 2002. Yuri Volos, a friend of Vakulenko, offered to make a studio at home, equipping it with the necessary sound equipment. Vasily, who had long missed his work, quickly restored his old compositions and wrote new ones. But no one remembered the rapper Basta anymore, and finding a producer turned out to be a difficult task.
About this difficult period of his life, Vasily later wrote a song under the telling title "Fast labels, lack of chances." By a lucky chance, demodisk Vakulenko got to Bogdan Titomir. The musician liked the compositions of young performers, and he invited them to the Russian capital. In Moscow, Titomir brought Basta and Volos to the studio of the Gasholder creative association, where the rappers were accepted and showed interest in them. In the first year of his stay in the capital, the singer created musical material for several discs, but decided not to rush, but to release albums with a time interval.
The debut album "Basta 1" (2006) was positively received by rap fans. This long-awaited success inspired the artist so much that he released 2 new clips under the names "Autumn" and "Once and for All". For rapid distribution, he used the Internet.
In 2007, the album "Basta 2" appeared, which included duets with singer MakSim and rapper Guf, and a number of new clips, the most striking of which were "So Spring cries", "Our Summer", "Inner Fighter" and "Tea Drinker". In just 3 months, the second collection sold 50 thousand copies.
The composition "Prom" ("Slow") has become one of the main ones in the musician's career. In social networks, users called it one of the best, suggesting that such a single will be played in schools for a long time. Many fans think that this song is written based on real events. However, the singer said in an interview that the basis is a fictional story, and he himself did not have a graduation.
Basta - "Graduation"
In the future, the rap artist paid more and more attention to working with other representatives of the Russian show business. Together with the group "Nerves", he created the video "With hope for wings", which impressed the Russian audience.
In 2007, Vasily Vakulenko was recognized not only under the pseudonym Basta, he also became Noggano. Three albums of the rapper were released under this name: in 2008 - "The First", in 2009 - "Warm" and in 2010 - "Unreleased".
In 2011, Basta pleasantly surprised fans with the new album "Nintendo", which struck with the unusual style of "cybergang", and fans of his work expected other innovations.
Vasily's collaboration with singer Polina Gagarina became successful. The songs "The whole world is not enough for me without you" and "The Voice", as well as the composition "Angel of Faith", presented in 2016, were especially remembered by fans.
The album "Basta 5" became the seventh work in the discography of the rapper performing under the stage name Basta. After a while, Vasily pleased the fans of Noggano by releasing the disc "Luxury". Thanks to revenues of $ 1.8 million, the performer got to the 17th position of the list of the richest figures in Russian show business according to Forbes magazine.
Vakulenko collaborates with famous musicians in creating new masterpieces. Together with singer Alyona Omargalieva, he sang the song "I rise above the earth". Fans were also surprised by the rapper's performance of Soviet songs. The cover version of the lyrical song "Dark Night", written by composer Nikita Bogoslovsky and poet Vladimir Agatov, has become a unique work of Basta.
Then the song "The Master and Margarita" was recorded together with Yuna. This single can be attributed to completely different works that do not resemble the already familiar compositions. The song was included in the soundtrack to the full-length feature film "Me and Uda. Redemption."
Among the works of the musician, which have become part of film projects, are the song "Giv mi Mani", included in the soundtrack of the crime comedy "Loot", a cover version of the composition "Paradise Apples", which sounded in the drama "Vysotsky. Thank you for being alive." Among the tapes in which the rapper's songs are used are "Homeland", "Ke-dy", "Attraction", "Street".
Basta - "Samsara"
Fans expected unique concerts from Vakulenko, which few rap artists dared to attend, because April 2015 remained in the memory of fans, when he was the first Russian rapper to perform with a symphony orchestra at the Olympic Stadium, the largest concert venue in the Russian capital. Therefore, in 2016, the rap artist organized a concert in the Kremlin Palace and again with the participation of a symphony orchestra.
The artist decided to re-hold the concert at the Olympic in 2017, and all fences were removed for a 360° view, and the singer appeared before a 36,000-strong audience on a stage decorated in the form of a boxing ring.
Vakulenko continues to explore new creative horizons, not stopping there. In 2017, he won the GQ Magazine Man of the Year Award in the Musician of the Year nomination.
A year later, the artist presented the live album "So live". It includes old compositions of the singer recorded in live sound during a concert tour of Russia and America. Among them are "Samsara", "The Master and Margarita", "Where we are not". Thanks to the acoustic performance, everyone's favorite hits have acquired a new sound.
In August 2020, Basta, together with singer Zivert, released the song "Neboley". The song is dedicated to the relationship between a man and a woman whose love is fading.
Basta and Zivert — "Neboley"
In honor of his 40th anniversary in November 2020, the rapper released his 6th studio solo album "Basta 40", which included 23 compositions. The songs were recorded by Scriptonite, ATL, Noize MC, etc. The presentation of the collection was scheduled for July 2021 at the musician's concert in Luzhniki. The artist himself described the collection as "a farewell to himself - young, young, daring, fatal."
Now the artist performs on private holidays, and has also resumed touring, which was suspended due to quarantine. Up-to-date information about concerts is published on the official website of Basta.
In 2016, it became known that the rap artist became the mentor of the 4th season of the Voice project, and Polina Gagarina, Alexander Gradsky and Grigory Leps made up his company.
In 2018, the show "Voice of the Streets" was launched, which the creators positioned as the most honest rap battle in Russia. Out of 60 thousand applicants at the casting, 30 participants were selected who competed for a cash prize and the opportunity to work with the Gazgolder label. The jury consisted of Basta and hip-hop artist Restaurateur (Alexander Timartsev).
The singer became the mentor of the 5th season of The Voice. Children", where the judges' chairs were also occupied by Pelageya and Valery Meladze. The ward of the rapper Sofia Fedorova with the song "For dessert" took 2nd place in the superfinal. In the 7th season of the show, vocalist Vasily Olesya Kazachenko became the winner, and the singer himself became the best mentor.
Basta in the show "The Voice"
In 2018, the rapper took part in the 7th season of the TV show "The Voice", the maximum result of his wards was 4th place (Shaen Oganesyan). But in the 9th season, Basta became the best mentor according to the voting results, his vocalist Vasily Pasechnik took 4th place.
Vakulenko was included in the list of jury members of the 2nd season of the show "Songs" on TNT. The winner of the project was Timati's ward Slame (Vyacheslav Isakov), who signed a contract with the Black Star label.
The rap artist appeared on the humorous television show "Roast", where his opponent was Timati.
In February 2021, the show "The Voice. Children", together with Svetlana Loboda and Egor Creed, the rapper took the place of a mentor. His team of the 8th season included Maria Politikova, Kira Gogoladze, Timofey Zavalinich, etc. On the Evening Urgant program, the artist told the host Ivan Urgant about his mentorship and about the competitions between professional boxers, which are arranged by the Basta GazFight promotion company.
Basta's father was an army officer who had served in Belarus during the 1980s. He studied at the local musical college, but did not graduate.
Basta first began to write rap songs between the ages of 15–16. In 1997, he joined the rap group Psycholyric, which he later renamed Kasta. In 1998, he recorded his first solo single "Моя Игра" (Moya Igra/My Game). Subsequently, Vakulenko assembled his own band, "Уличные Звуки" (Ulichnye Zvuki/Street Sounds). In 2004, he was noticed by Bogdan Titomir, who invited him to accompany him to Moscow. In Moscow, Basta met other performers Smoky Mo and Guf (future founder of the Centr). Later on, he participated in recording Guf's album "Город дорог" (Gorod Dorog/City of roads) and collaborated with him on the cover of his first single "Моя Игра" (Moya Igra/My Game).
In 2008, Basta adopted the stage name "Noggano", an allusion to the Nagant M1895 revolver. He recorded two albums "Ноггано первый" (Noggano: The First) and "Ноггано теплый" (Noggano Warm). After his "Noggano" project, he rebranded himself as a Gangsta rapper, calling "Noggano" his alter ego.
In 2017, Basta was banned for 3 years from entering Ukraine as he had performed in Crimea after the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.
Since 2006, Basta and his business partner Yevgeny Antimoniy have owned the Gazgolder company, which with a music record label, night club, production company, management agency, talent agency, clothes shops, pubs, restaurants, vape shops, and a jewellery company under their ownership.
Basta is married and has two children.