Explained: What is Drill Music?

There has been speculation in the UK recently over the causes of the increase in knife violence in London. This year alone there has been over 50 stabbings in London and people are understandably worried about this new wave of violence. There has been widespread confusion as to where this violence has come from and many have taken to blaming drill music for the surge in this aggressive behaviour. However, with many people having little to no knowledge about drill music why are we being so quick to link violence with this type of music? Can music really be the driving force behind some of the crimes committed?

What is drill music?

Drill music derives from trap music, or more commonly in the UK is linked to grime or road rap. It originates from Chicago and is lyrically dark and violent. It rose to fame in 2012 through the likes of stars like Young Chop and Chief Keef.

UK drill music

Drill music grew in popularity in the UK in Brixton, South London, in 2014. Social media and YouTube played a big part in the rise of drill music. As it was deemed too inappropriate for mainstream radio UK drill artists posted their material on YouTube. Some groups started using this platform to call for each other and posted diss tracks. Certain videos were actually banned as shown in this YouTube video.

First glance of these videos we see men in big gangs and wearing masks to disguise their face. Usually filmed at night there is quite an aggressive nature to these videos but is there more to it.

Drill music’s link to violence

Everyone has heard about the recent knife crimes in London as rates are the highest they’ve been in six years. Statistics show knife crime in London has risen by a staggering 23 per cent since last year. With all of this information the public want to know why this has been happening. There’s been a massive media frenzy surrounding drill music and that it’s partly to blame for the rise in violence. Earlier this year Junior Simpson was jailed for stabbing 15-year-old Jermaine Goupall to death. Simpson and three others were given life sentences for this brutal attack. Simpson went under the rap name M-Trap and before the attack had written some violent lyrics about knife attacks. The judge for this case, Anthony Leonard QC, made his feelings about these lyrics very clear to Simpson: “You suggested [the lyrics] were just for show but I do not believe that, and I suspect you were waiting for the right opportunity for an attack.”

Another example of where drill music may have influenced knife crime is the report of a stabbing at a house party in Canterbury. Earlier on this year police were called out to a house down Pretoria Road in Canterbury after reports of a stabbing. Witnesses at the party said drill music was being played throughout the night and they feel this might be to blame for the violent outbreak. With these examples it’s understandable to why people would draw links between listening to explicit and violent music and violent behaviour but can we say that it’s directly to blame?

Should we blame violent behaviour on drill music?

Fan of drill music Aidan Spencer has spoken out against the recent claims made against drill music. “I listen to a lot of drill and I write my own stuff as well, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to go out and stab people”. He explained his anger towards the situation and the bad reputation drill music is getting. “I listen to the music because I enjoy it, people are looking way too deep into it, yeah there are some people out there who will take things too far and get violent but for the majority of fans it’s really frustrating to see that because of those few the whole genre is getting wrongly labelled. Drill music is just a way of people expressing themselves, just like pop or rock, but this type of music always gets a bad name because people don’t understand it…for some people if they don’t understand something they’re scared of it and turn against it and I think that’s what’s happened here.”

“…for some people if they don’t understand something they’re scared of it and turn against it”

The aim here is not to stop people from listening to violent music, it’s teaching them not to act on it. The majority of people can listen to this type of music and not be affected by it. We need to teach those who possess violent thoughts or a violent nature to channel it into something more positive. We shouldn’t be focusing on blaming London’s knife crimes on drill music and slating it, we should be trying to find ways to reduce the crime and stop such atrocities from happening again.