Treating drill rappers as terrorists is a colossal mistake

Tottenham drill rapper Abra Cadabra

Blaming music for youth violence is neither just nor helpful. Policing it with terrorism legislation is madness.

Earlier this year, the British media discovered drill music: a dark, aggressive strain of underground London rap that thrives from being consumed and shared on social media. It sparked a moral panic that continues to this day; alarmed by drill’s skyrocketing popularity amongst teenagers, politicians and senior police have blamed the music and its videos for rising youth violence. Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick called for social media channels to remove drill videos, and YouTube took down 30 of the 50-60 such videos that Scotland Yard highlighted for removal.

On the one hand, this reaction is another episode in the perennial demonisation of provocative music. Punk rock in the 1970s, American hip-hop in the 1980s, and grime in London in the early-2000s were all received with attempts at censorship before they were absorbed into mainstream culture.

What’s more, waves of violence have ebbed-and-flowed for decades on the shores of London’s civic life. As tragic as it is, young people have been stabbing and shooting each other long before drill or the common availability of smartphones. In this regard, it is disingenuous to hold the music responsible for a problem that predates its conception.

On the other hand, there is legitimate concern about drill’s uniquely nihilistic content and digital form. Its lyricism is doused in references to guns, knives and drug-dealing, and its videos usually portray groups of young men wearing masks or balaclavas. Its availability is like no other musical genre ever, disseminated continuously across social media platforms like YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram. In some cases, such as the tragic killings of Jermaine Goupall or Rhyiem Barton, territorial rivalries between drill groups, sustained by lyrical provocation, spill out recklessly …read more

Source:: New Statesman


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