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Beat(s) for Blame: UK Drill Music, ‘Race’, and Criminal Justice

Fatsis, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-3082-951X (2024). Beat(s) for Blame: UK Drill Music, ‘Race’, and Criminal Justice. In: Dale, P., Burnard, P. & Travis, R. (Eds.), Music for Inclusion and Healing in Schools and Beyond Music for Inclusion and Healing in Schools and Beyond. . Oxford University Press.


UK Drill music is regularly admitted as evidence of criminal offending, violence and aggression in Britain’s courtrooms. Seizing on this popular rap subgenre’s deliberately lurid lyrical and visual content, the police, prosecutors and judges interpret drill music lyrics and videos as literal, autobiographical testimony to bring charges against defendants. In so doing, an entire music genre is put on trial – likening it to a source of danger and a symbol of trouble, while also revealing prosecutorial tactics that are poor in evidential weight, rich in prejudicial value and discriminatory in their outcomes. This chapter counters such punitive reasoning, arguing that perceiving and pursuing drill rap(pers) as ‘criminal(s)’ tells us more about the state-sanctioned, racialised criminalisation of Black British music – than it does about the threat that a Black music subgenre ostensibly poses.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This material has been published in Music for Inclusion and Healing in Schools and Beyond by Oxford University Press:
Publisher Keywords: Rap on trial, racial injustice, criminalisation of UK drill music, police racism
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
K Law > K Law (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
[thumbnail of LFatsis_Chapter_CUMiN.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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