Photo Credit: Ian West/PA Images

There has been a move over the last year to ban a form of rap music named “drill” that originated in Chicago from streaming services online due to a perceived link to increased violence. This notion was addressed by rap duo Krept and Konan during a panel following the release of their song Ban Drill in west London along with an accompanying 11 minute film on the topic. The film made a very valid point which is that banning drill music could drive a lot of rappers back to gang life. If music and rapping about life experiences that others are able to relate to is making them money and giving them a chance to move on to have a better life, that is the desired solution that communities should want and not starving people from their way of living.

In London, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has called for social media platforms to take down drill videos that were inciting violence. This was addressed by Krept, whose real name is Casyo Johnson saying this has the potential to stop the next generation’s Eminem, a Grammy award winning rap artist.

“(The video to Ban Drill) is painting the perspective for people that don’t get it so they can see the effect that it has when they want to ban this music. What could happen if they leave these artists alone so they can flourish and become something big? You could have stopped the next Dr Dre. When they were trying to ban (US rap group) NWA back in the day, if they stopped Dr Dre from doing music, there would be no Beats (headphone brand) by Dre. There would be no Eminem.”

The other half of the rap duo, Konan said that police used their preconceived notions against rappers who they saw as animals. Last year, the west London group 1011 received a court order banning them from making music without the consent of police. Now just think about this. Having police be the judge of music that is deemed acceptable for public consumption is the very definition of being in a police state. The refusal to adhere to the court order lead to jail for conspiracy to commit violent disorder.

Award winning spoken word artist George The Poet, whose real name is George Mpanga, said the Metropolitan Police had been invited but declined. He also said understanding between minority groups and police hit rock bottom. We would have to say that that is an understatement. He went on to say, “The reason I feel like it was important for the police to be here is because we have got to address the elephant in the room. There is gang war and the gangs are the feds versus everyone else. The feds will win every single time. Their aversion to us and our culture has mutated into this new tactic that they’ve got (banning drill).” He added: “Obviously police are supposed to be there to protect the community but we’ve all had experiences where they have done less than that. We’ve had those experiences our whole lives. What we haven’t had before is this much power. We’ve got a scene, we’ve got power, we’ve got clout politically.”

Media and Human Rights barrister Jude Bunting who has worked on a number of cases regarding people who have died in police custody, said banning drill rap music was an “important free speech issue.” He said “If you have been banned from performing an individual song then you should be challenging that. You should be arguing against that. There will be lawyers who will fight that for free because this is an important free speech issue. You shouldn’t take these things sitting down.”

On another note, the authoritarian regimes of China and Russia have both gone to great lengths to ban rap and that’s because they speak against their country politically there and that’s an absolute no no there. We had this discussion in the early 90s, seeking to ban rap on the west coast before the idea was shunned as ridiculous. Rap as well as drill rap music is a genre that speaks to what communities are facing and if the desired goal is to improve these communities, the specific issues they’re facing should be addressed and not the music talking about them.