Recently, drill music has been linked to violence and gang warfare, with Pastor Ryan King blaming the subgenre for an increase in murders in north London. Judges in recent court trials have linked drill music to violence, and the father of Jermaine Goupall – a 15-year-old boy stabbed to death in south London – branded the subgenre as “demonic”.
On this morning’s (9 April) episode of the Today programme, BBC Radio 4 discussed whether drill music does, indeed, encourage violence, with suggestions that the subgenre may “pump you up to be more violent”. The question was asked: “Does drill actually encourage violence or simply reflect life on some estates?”
DJ Bempah appeared on the show, arguing for the latter view, saying drill music “can’t force your hand to commit” acts of violence, and the two factors bear no correlation. He said, “If that’s what you see in your own environment and you’re an artist, that’s what you portray.”
James Treadwell, Professor of Criminology at Staffordshire University assessed the link, noting there is a “nihilistic, hedonistic overtone to drill music”, but that “perhaps we should be talking about the policy of austerity”. He called the murder of Goupall an isolated case, with music often overlapping with social anxieties and youth culture. He highlighted how drill is “about self-interest in some ways, it’s about money and materialism”, yet these values are prominent in all tiers of classes.
“It’s very, very easy to turn on the young men on the streets and say, look at how their values are but those are just the similar values to many in the political class and the banker class,” he added.
Listen to the full episode here. The discussion begins at around the 2:40:30 mark.