Russian tycoon stars with net rap
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.
Now 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, 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.
Prokhorov is a newcomer to the political stage and the only challenger who is not a veteran party leader. For many Russians, the 46-year-old bachelor businessman with an estimated fortune of £11 billion is an intriguing fresh face in the race.
His candidacy has been viewed as a Kremlin-approved effort to add legitimacy to the election and channel public discontent highlighted by massive protest rallies. Prokhorov denies the suggestion, saying he's out for a real fight.
Prokhorov's rap performance took place during a guest appearance on a comedy show on Russia's state-run Channel One. Hosts of the show invited Prokhorov to join them in a brief rap in English and Russian about his own business venture, yo-Mobile.
They introduce Prokhorov as Russia's new rapping billionaire as they sit at 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 6ft 8in frame towers over the others even while seated, continues with a fist in the air and the declaration "I am real Russian Eminem." Commentators acknowledged Prokhorov's performance as both horrible and charming.