Q-pop is the Kazakh-language musical genre that is becoming widespread. A mix of western pop, electronic dance, rhythm’n’blues and hip-hop.
A land where the Silk Road passes, Kazakhstan gained independence in 1990 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A complex and multi-ethnic land – in addition to the Russians and Kazakhs, there are Uzbeks, Slavs, Ukrainians, Tatars, Belarusians -, allied to Russia (but not in the Ukrainian conflict), with a rich culture, also in the musical field.
And here the genre that is most popular today is Q-pop: songs sung in the Kazakh language that incorporate typical elements of Western pop, electronic dance, rhythm’n’blues and hip-hop. A genre – but also an approach and a school of thought applied to music – not far from K-pop that North Koreans have been exporting all over the world for years.
This phenomenon emerged in the middle of the last decade and found its first flagship group in the boy band Ninety One. And they were the first fans to coin the term (the letter Q derives from the name of the country, Qazaqstan, as it should be written according to the Latin script of Kazakh). A quartet typical of teenage bands from all over the world, adored by little girls and mocked by mainstream lovers. And yet their career is still going on, with the ambition of demonstrating to young Kazakhs the modernity of their mother tongue. To get to know them, just listen to Jurak, their single of last year. If among the stars of the old guard, the best known is probably Roza Rymbayeva (15 albums released and several international awards) who offers a rather traditionalist electronic pop with some deviations towards local folk and jazz.
The most significant artists of today’s scene must include the following two. Starting with Dımash Qudaıbergen. Born into a family in 1994, with a strong voice (endowed with perfect pitch, a range of more than six octaves and a remarkable talent for whistling), he has had a solid classical training and has won the admiration of many international critics, some of whom did not hesitate to judge him “the most beautiful voice in the world”. To get an idea of it you need to listen to his 2019 album iD: imagine an almost impossible cross between Andrea Bocelli and Antony Hegarty and a style that crosses popular international pop with classical elements of traditional Kazakh and classical music.
The other emerging name is that of the very young Daneliya Tuleshova. Born in the capital Astana in 2009, she showed her talent as a child by winning the Hopes of Europe competition in 2017 and then honourably represented her country at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in 2018. She then took part in 2020 in America’s Got Talents; a dozen singles to date and, if she can resist the pressures of the business, a bright future awaits her. (Open Photo: Musical notes lined up in even rows against the backdrop of the National Flag of Kazakhstan .123rf.com)