Now that the year is coming to an end, it is safe to say that this year has seen an undeniable rise in crime, with London’s murder rate in 2018 being the highest in a calendar year for a decade. There have been 125 murders in the Capital in 2018, with 83 of those being reported as knife or gun-related deaths.
Until recently, there was never a single or main factor used to explain the reason for violence which has led to the increase in crimes over the years.
Many of the mainstream media outlets have begun to express their views on one of the newer genres of music, drill, being one of the major influences in the rise of crimes in and around London. After speaking with former gang member, Darnell from Brixton, South London he was able to explain his insight on this viewpoint.
Drill music has been defined as “A style of trap music that originated in the South Side of Chicago in the early 2010s. The genre is a prominent feature of Chicago hip hop, and is defined by its dark, violent, nihilistic lyrical content and ominous trap-influenced beats.”
The drill genre can be traced back to starting in the UK around 2013, with artists such as Stickz, Mdargg, Grizzy and 67, but the genre began to peak in 2015 when Harlem Spartans, 86, 410, OFB, Zone 2 and many more artists started to make drill music.
Former gang member, Darnell, expressed his disapproval of the suggestion that drill music is influencing violence, he stated “I would understand if drill was being suggested to be a factor in some cases, in terms of retaliation but not solely as the cause of violence in crimes, that is ridiculous”. He went on to tell me that “drill is a way for the youths to express their feelings and past experiences, similar to a diary, even though the music is very violent and explicit, it’s better than these youths standing around on street corners causing trouble, we are all trying to get out of the hood.”
The idea that the lyrics in many drill songs are very explicit and violent is indisputable. When listening to some drill songs to get a feel and understanding of the genre, one freestyle by a gang called 1011, consisted of lyrics including “don’t talk like you’re bad, you ain’t on that”, “verbal use is long, akh, stop that, back out the mash and drop that, shot that” and “back out my shank and dip it, ballistic, push in my shank and twist it”. These lyrics are ultimately describing the action of stabbing an individual, this showcases the level of violence presented throughout drill music however this is not a good enough reason to be used to explain the cause of violence in individuals and the increase in the crime rate.
When asking former gang member and youth worker, Darnell about the drill lyrics he explained that “the lyrics are the harsh reality of the situations we are faced with; many youths join gangs due to the brotherly love that you experience from it, a lot of them grew up in broken homes and gangs display the love and security that everyone longs for or for money through drug dealing as trying to get a job as a black male is very difficult”
Darnell, expressed that “the issue of violence and crime started long before drill music, if there was a stronger support system in place in terms of easier ways to make money, better educational systems, and social support for example youth clubs, there will definitely not be as much crime as there is now, as these gang members are getting younger and younger by the day”
What used to seem like random, unaccountable crime is now having its root causes analysed and the mainstream media are pointing the blame in the direction of the evolving genre, drill. It could be said that targeting musicians is a distraction, instead the main focus should be on a way to tackle crime, and this can only be achieved through tactics that the government system can put in place.
After speaking with former gang member, Darnell, he helped me to understand that these drill artists are really crying out for help, they’re speaking on a mental anguish that has engulfed them but fails to be addressed. It cannot be said that drill has never influenced violence, however, drill is also a good way to show the young people of today and the future generations that everyone’s skills can be used for something, even if it is not present in the world currently. So, instead of trying to find the cause of violence, a solution needs to be worked on.