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Building a Hip-Hop Movement in Ukraine: An Interview With Kulya of Tulym Posse

Europe has been a hotbed for exciting young artists in recent years. As Germany sees itself with the likes of Wun Two and Wyl, and with the U.K. giving birth to stars such as King Krule and Skepta, there is not a lot of attention diverted to the other European countries trying to create their own scenes. This is where I encountered Tulym Posse, a hip-hop duo made up of rappers and producers KULYA and RYLEZ. Tulym Posse plans to make an impact for Ukraine, developing a hip-hop scene that pays homage to the early 90’s boom bap hip-hop scene. They have a clean and crisp way of making every drum beat audible and each sample looped and heard.

I recently came in contact with KULYA of Tulym Posse and he was open to letting me show the world what Tulym Posse is all about.

Tulym Posse’s Bandcamp cover. Image from

Tell me about who you are and where you grew up.

KULYA: I was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine. Hip-hop has always been around my life since grade school. The older guys were doing a lot of graffiti, but breakdancing became popular here in the early 2000s, so the music just came with it naturally. My first couple of tapes that inspired me were from Eminem, Bomfunk MC’s, and this Russian rapper named Detsl. They got me into the style, which later led to me listening to 2pac, Dr. Dre, Onyx, Wu-Tang Clan, Gang Starr, Cypress Hill, Run DMC, etc. When the internet got better with music recommendations, I got very deep into 90s hip-hop and felt that it resonated with me the most. After that phase, I started making beats and rapping with my friend from grade school, Max (RYLEZ).

How long were you making music for and when was your breakthrough?

KULYA: I started making beats in the beginning of 2007 with a primitive program called “Hip-Hop Ejay.” After a few months, I started writing lyrics to the beats I was making. Our first show as Tulym Posse was in November 2008. I was inspired by my environment and the music I was listening to at the time, so it all came naturally to me.

What is it about boom bap hip-hop that you connect with? Why from all the other subgenres of hip-hop that you cater to this one specifically?

KULYA: I was always open to the other styles and subgenres of hip-hop, but I feel that boom bap resonates with me the most. But, I don’t want to limit myself and say that everything else is bull, it’s just what touches me the most. I do think that classic rap will live forever, regardless if it’s not popular or “in the moment.” It’s been around for over thirty years now, so I think there are a lot more people around the world who feel and need it. Classic is classic.

Where do you see yourself in the future with your music?

KULYA: I’m working on music all the time, making beats, recording new tracks, shooting videos, etc. It’s a non-stop process for me. I’m trying to develop myself and grow everyday. The style of music I make is pretty unique here in Ukraine. We’re taking our niche approach, making it bigger, performing our shows throughout Europe. Our music is gradually getting bigger. Practicing every day is the way to go, in my opinion, so we keep going on. “Tulym” means “going, let’s go,” in Ukrainian.

What artists or genres have you been listening to recently?

KULYA: This Ukrainian group called ЛІРА, Griselda, Ras Kass, Black Thought, Alicia Keys, Ill Conscious, La Base, and Tru Comers.

I appreciate musicians like KULYA and Tulym Posse for rehearsing their craft everyday to start something meaningful, especially for areas in the world that don’t have a strong reputation for a genre yet. What impressed me is Tulym’s enthusiasm for hip-hop. If the genre can survive this long, it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.


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