Socialist Worker

Resist the attempts to turn the screws on drill musicians

by Zak Cochrane
Issue No. 2643

Drill music is a product of a violent society

Drill music is a product of a violent society


Simple solutions to complex problems are the holy grail for the political classes.

Violence in society comes from a number of places. Primarily it comes from the state, but sometimes it is ordinary people who are violent towards each other.

A few years ago we were told this was caused by video games. The latest culprit is drill music. The solution is, we are told, for the state to punish the creators.

Having emerged from the trap-style rap of Chicago, drill has quickly become popular among young people across Britain.

Last year the Metropolitan Police launched a “crackdown” on it, banning artists such as the 1011 group from making new material.

Cops had videos removed from Youtube.

There are undoubtedly violent and disturbing lyrics in some drill music.

Artists talk openly about settling scores with rival groups and using knives and guns.

Exclusion

Yet there is a refusal among the establishment to acknowledge violent lyrics as a symptom of social exclusion and alienation rather than simply a cause of gun and knife crime.

Popular drill artist Abra Cadabra said in an interview last year, “Targeting musicians is a distraction.

“The cuts that affect schools, youth clubs, social housing and benefits are making life harder for the average person living on or below the poverty line.”

The artist Drillminister has sought to highlight the double standards applied to lyrics in drill music.

His debut single Political Drilling quotes violent language used by politicians.

These include Jess Phillips MP who said, “I won’t knife you in the back, I’ll knife you in the front” with

reference to Jeremy Corbyn. Another quote in the song is “I will not rest until she’s chopped up in bags in the freezer.”

This was widely attributed to the ex-chancellor George Osborne in reference to Theresa May.

Drill is by no means the first genre of music popular among young black people to be criminalised. In the late 1980s there was a powerful campaign to ban US rap music by artists such as NWA and 2 Live Crew.

In Britain during the early 2000s, grime experienced much of the same scrutiny as drill today. The Met Police introduced form 696 in response to the emergence of grime.

Assessment

This required promoters and licensees to complete a risk assessment of MCs and DJs three weeks before events.

The original version even asked for details of “ethnic groups” likely to attend a performance.

Today grime has become mainstream with huge artists such as Stormzy, AJ Tracey, Skepta and Lady Leshurr.

The genre has also become increasingly political.

Artists have spoken out on issues such as Grenfell, police brutality and encouraged support for Jeremy Corbyn.

It’s possible drill music could move in a similar direction.

The ruling class has always feared and tried to control non-conformist subcultures.

This is why they call for bans on music and whip up a moral panic in the media.

It is understandable to feel dismayed when ordinary people kill each other.

This is the product of a system that breeds alienation and a sense of hopelessness. Drill music is a reflection of that system, not at odds with its values.

Banning it will do nothing to address the society that has created it.


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