The age old riddle, what came first, “the Chicken or the Egg” is a question that challenges the concept of cause and effect.
So it bolds to ask, is Drill music the cause for this current rise in youth violence and corruptible youth culture, or is it merely one of the many effects of the already present epidemic? With talks from officials to ban the music genre, questions and concerns are flying around as to whether such an action will have a lasting effect, or if its just a half-baked attempt by Individuals to look concerned and intentional about tackling this current crisis at our doorsteps.
Originating in the South Side of Chicago, Drill music is generally a derivative of rap music that tends to focus on crime and the day to day ordeals of ‘life on the streets’. However, being a prominent part of the Chicago culture, it has found its way to our UK streets with popular artists such as ‘K Trap’, ‘Unknown T’ and others, pioneering this Chicago sound in the UK.
Officials from the Metropolitan police have gone as far as to turning to YouTube to remove several Drill music videos they deem so violent that they antagonize and promote gang violence. And whilst questions remain over the influence of drill music in gang violence one thing that can be agreed on is its reflective nature on the ongoing crisis that has seen more than 37 people fatally stabbed and 67 killed in London alone this year so far. Following this reflection, despite officials request to have the urban genre banned, there are others that are callings for its stay. London rapper ‘Konan’, born in the streets of south-east London of Thornton Heath claims that, although being raised by a “good family in a close community” his upbringing was still plagued with violence and crime and in fact it was music that saved him from a life of crime and violence. “I can honestly say that music saved my life. After the murder of my stepdad, it was music that actually pulled me out of my former lifestyle. Before music, there was just jail, gangs and getting arrested. Without music, I do not know if I would be alive today. Best-case scenario, I’d be in prison.” With such testimonies, its clear to see the opportunities the music industry provides those who can only see a dead end, but does that still justify the violent nature and aggressive content? When asked about a violent lyric referring to knife crime acts, Drill artist DJ Bempah answered by saying this: “if that’s what you see in your environment, as an artist, that’s what you portray in your lyrics”
Music in its truest form has always been a form of expression through art, the ability to vocalize one’s experiences and transform it into a piece of art, to tell a story in a creative way. The broken hearted write love songs and in this case it seems those growing up with traumatic experiences write music depicting such a life. There’s a saying, “in life you give what you have”, and living a life plagued with violence and crime its naïve to expect a sound that depicts an alternate reality to the one lived by these young people.