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Digital Street Culture Decoded: Why Criminalizing Drill Music is Street Illiterate and Counterproductive

Ilan, J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4080-2898 (2020). Digital Street Culture Decoded: Why Criminalizing Drill Music is Street Illiterate and Counterproductive. The British Journal of Criminology, doi: 10.1093/bjc/azz086

Abstract

Authorities in the United Kingdom censure ‘drill rap’, the artistic expression of disadvantaged urban youth, citing its connections to serious violence. This is shown to be based on a thin, ‘street-illiterate’ understanding of the genre that ultimately rests on stereotypes of young black men as violent ‘gang’ members. In place of this misreading, a street-literate interpretation of drill is offered from a deep and nuanced analysis of YouTube videos and below the line discussions. It is demonstrated that it is inaccurate and unhelpful to view drill videos as evidence of violent crime or as attempts to glorify or precipitate it. Instead, the stylized videos and violent lyricism are shown to be forms of artistic performance that reveal an ambiguous relationship to criminality. Marginalizing the excluded further, video removals and restrictions on performance are shown to be counterproductive from a crime-reduction perspective. New developments in technology and culture can take shape around existing patterns of criminalization.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in The British Journal of Criminology following peer review. The version of record Ilan, J. (2020). Digital Street Culture Decoded: Why Criminalizing Drill Music is Street Illiterate and Counterproductive. The British Journal of Criminology is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azz086.
Publisher Keywords: drill rap music, street culture, media, censorship, serious youth violence, cultural criminology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/23519
[img] Text - Accepted Version
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