my 4am thoughts on drill music & gang culture.
Disclaimer: this is just my analysis at 4am. I will try to keep it very brief, I will not use any statistics & I will not delve too deep into anything because I am not trying to convince you. This is not an article or essay or study. As the title states, you are just reading my 4am thoughts.
Legendary rappers such as Nas, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and many others used Rap as an art form. This was their way of expressing and living their truth, through music. Tupac is going to be my example here: meaningful songs, conscious rap etc etc. Good messages. However, when Tupac went from Brenda’s Got a Baby to, “That’s why I fucked your bitch, you fat motherfucker. West side. Bad boy killers”, on Hit Em Up, people went crazy. Ppl for some reason love violence, beef etc. I’m not sure why tbh, there’s a history of this with gladiators in Ancient Rome, but this is not a history lesson. How does Ancient Rome link to South London? Bear with me. Now, present day drill, the whole gang lifestyle is a facade that people have to keep up. Drill rappers today are not talking about the things that Pac, Nas etc used to rap about. They are now on tracks saying: “I laugh and giggle at my dead opp cousin” or “ [insert dead gang member] got splashed and got murdered”.
Provoking rival gangs in music rather than showcasing technical ability or rapping about how they came up from nothing. A good uk drill beat, a couple of football references & a diss towards rival gang members will have everyone interested and watching from the sidelines. Drill rappers are in the spotlight, they are flexing money they don’t have a lot of the time, this feeds into the gang culture of getting £, power and women, all of which are attractive to young boys from disadvantaged backgrounds who are trying to ‘get it out the mud’ so to speak. I don’t want to get too biblical, I want to keep this away from religion otherwise this would go somewhere I don’t want it to. But 1 Corinthians 15:33 says “Evil communication corrupts good manners” / “Bad company corrupts good morals” depending on which version you read. Whatever you consume or listen to will have an effect on you. Now, enter the melting pot that is the ghetto, with the hood role models we are given, the instant gratification(£) that comes from selling drugs, the tiring facade of having to be “hard/on/active” and the respect that comes with it. This all brings about a very negative aura and one that is essentially detrimental to you as a 15 year old black boy from South London who isn’t really that great in academia. And for seasoning, add in the fact that you are going through changes during your teenage years and your hormones are all over the place. Also, if you have ever heard a drill song with a very good beat and some of the features of a typical drill song, which were previously stated, you can’t tell me that it does not get you pumped up, energised, invigorated.
My final point for now, solely because I have to sleep and it is 4am, is that for some people it seems that this is the only way out. Of course, that is not the reality and is never the reality, but if you are listening to drill music, the gang culture doesn’t have to be your melting pot or ghetto or you being around a certain bag of man. If you’ve come up with guys from the age of 11 and you are on the block with them aged 15/16 now, those boys are your family. The olders on the block are your parents. This is your life. However, with the rise of social media & drill music & streaming services, the gang culture comes to you. You don’t have to grow up in Streatham where teachers are giving out tests while mandem are giving out testers.
You could be in Kensington and Chelsea in the back of a billionaire businessman’s car, but as long as you have access to a device, you can stream the latest Kwengface song.
For more on this particular topic, check out episode #7 of the Project Noir podcast. Available on all platforms.