Mikhail Prokhorov RAP

Mikhail Prokhorov

Just over a week before Russia’s presidential election, billionaire candidate Mikhail Prokhorov’s rapping skills have made him an Internet star.

Prokhorov, who shares ownership of the New Jersey Nets basketball team with US rapper Jay-Z, took to the microphone on a Russian television show two weeks ago. On Thursday, a YouTube video of his performance was widely circulated on Twitter by rap fans, sports writers and young Russians charmed by sombre-faced Prokhorov’s rare moment of silliness.

His performance was a marked contrast to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s campaign rally the same day, at which he delivered a patriotic address to tens of thousands of people in a football stadium.

Putin is all but certain to win the March 4 election as four other contenders, including Prokhorov, are trailing far behind. Only 6% of respondents said they would vote for Prokhorov, according to polling results released Friday by Russia’s leading independent polling company.

The host introduced Prokhorov as Russia’s new rapping billionaire as they sat behind a large, boardroom-style table, surrounded by large garishly decorated lamps and mirrors.

“Mr. Jay-Z, this is a first presentation of real rap music from Russian Federation,” one host raps.

“Mr. Jay-Z, I am not alone,” he continues, with Prokhorov rapping back “Mikhail Prokhorov on the microphone!”

Reading his lines from a sheet of paper, Prokhorov taps his foot and awkwardly pumps his fist to the beat as all four men bob their heads in attempted unison.

Prokhorov, whose 6-foot 8-inch frame towers over the others even while seated, continues with a fist in the air and the declaration “I am real Russian Eminem.”

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