Welcome to Views on Violence, where we explore views on the influence of digital technology on violence. In this blog post I will be having an in depth discussion into the impact of music on violence.

Digitalisation of music

Over the past few years, the music industry has been revolutionised and changed forever. Due to a large percentage of the world owning either a smartphone, tablet or laptop the direction of the music industry has shifted from CD’s, Cassettes and vinyl’s (Physical music) to online music providers (iTunes, Google play, Amazon) streaming services and music videos (Digital music). The main places where music is distributed in 2019 are streaming services, such as Apple and Spotify. Music videos are posted on Youtube and Vevo.

Technology is more widespread and easily available. This means that budding musicians and established artists can now share their work internationally at the click of a fingertip. All a beginner needs is a camera and a laptop with basic editing software to upload to YouTube. All an artist needs to record is, an editing software, a microphone and a laptop to create a song and post it online to a streaming service such as SoundCloud and Spotify.

Due to the advancement in technology, it is a lot easier to release a lot more music and music videos. At the same time there is a lot of viewers on platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud. The easy accessibility of music due to streaming, there a lot of regular users of their services. Lastly, digitalisation means that all an artist needs to promote their music is social media such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, rather that needing to get a record label.

Image of streaming service

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UK Drill Music

Drill music has now become a hot topic in not only the UK music scene, but has now made headlines in the mainstream media. This has become a popular topic of discussion, due to its lyrics talking about gang culture, and the recent increase of the violent crime rates in urban areas around the country, especially London. The Times journalist ‘Shingi Mararike’ has reported how

“Murders and stabbings plaguing London and other cities are directly linked to an ultra-violent new form of music sweeping Britain”

It is a popular view that drill music is a negative form of expression which only leads to violence amongst the artists creating it and the listeners consuming it.

“Drill music in the UK was birthed from Chicago where it was popularised by artists such as King Louie and Chief Keef. In the UK, Chicago Drill has all but disappeared and listeners are now more likely to hear the familiar distorted beats rattling from the schoolyards and buses of South London” 

Violence in Drill Music

Groups that have emerged in recent years include: 67, 1011, Harlem Spartans and 410. An article by Ian Cobain states that,

“Members of 1011 are in a gang and had been imprisoned after admitting a conspiracy to commit violent disorder.”

Members of the group have been banned by a court order from mentioning death or injury, and from mentioning named postcodes in a gang context.]

Rapper holding a mic with red smoke in the back

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Crime and Music

Drill music can be connected to violence and can be used against artists in court. Rappers music can correlate with criminal acts and violent situations which have occurred. Furthermore, this can potentially lead to a negative effect on society. Content is being viewed and consumed by millions of people daily. Due to this

“In May, YouTube took down around 30 music videos following a request from the Metropolitan police.”

A recent statistic shows the unparalleled connection between the rise in the popular gang culture such as drill music in the UK and violence:

“In the UK, Police recorded a total of 215 fatal stabbings in the 12 months to March 2017. This was a similar number to the 212 recorded for the previous 12 months, but a 16% increase over the 186 in the year to March 2015.”

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Positives of violent music

On the contrary, artists and activists claim that the genre of music is only a reflection of their neglected neighbourhoods. The artists making it feel that it is their only way to express their truths. They look at music as a way out financially. If they gain exposure and start making a career out of music. In addition to this to get off the streets and do something productive. DJ Bempah, of drill group 67, said on BBC radio four that

“[Drill] is just real-life content, you talk about things that happen from day to day, what happened down the road from your house… Music can affect your emotions but it can’t affect what you do outside. It can’t make you go outside and stab someone.”

Furthermore, drill artist, Abra Cadabra also adds to this by stating,

“When the youth see man at Wireless festival, hear man on the radio, and see man making money out of this, it inspires them.”