Jonathan Ilan, City University.
Police, race, punishment: New directions in Criminology
Authorities in England have responded to ‘drill rap’, the artistic expression of disadvantaged urban youth, with video removals, performance restrictions and injunctions against future recording. Citing connections to serious youth violence, drill videos and lyrics are dismissed as gang provocations, the glorification of violence or potentially even coded confessions. This talk argues that such an understanding is based on a thin, ‘street-illiterate’ understanding of the genre that ultimately rests on stereotypes of young black men as violent ‘gang’ members. Against this, this talk will offer a deep and nuanced analysis of the genre drawn from an extensive immersive analysis of YouTube videos and below the line discussions. Drill is better understood as artistic performance that reveals an ambiguous attitude to crime and violence. Censoring the genre marginalises the excluded further and deepens existing antipathies to policing. To reduce crime, listening keenly to drill may prove more effective than banning it.
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