NYC Mayor Eric Adams, inaugurated in January, has set the tone very quickly that curbing gun violence throughout the Big Apple will be one of his biggest priorities. Last week, following the deaths of two Brooklyn rappers CHII WVTTZ and TDot Woo, NYC mayor Eric Adams announced in a press conference his intent to speak to reps of social media companies to remove NY Drill videos from their platforms, claiming that they incite violence and set a bad example for people to follow. The logic being that "We pulled Trump off Twitter because of what he was spewing, yet we are allowing music, displaying of guns, violence, we are allowing it to stay on the site, because look at the victims... we’re going to show exactly what is being displayed, and we are alarmed by it. We are alarmed by the use of social media to really over-proliferate this violence in our communities.”
This would not be the first time that politicians, law enforcement, or other government officials have attempted to suppress hip-hop music with the intent to end violence, NWA received a letter from the FBI asking them to stop performing their song Fuck Tha Police, Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel even banned a virtual performance from Chief Keef, claiming his music "promotes violence". Yet such condemnations and calls to action don't come against artists of other genres of music with violent, aggressive subject matter (rock or punk just for example).
These political actions against rap music have always come under the banner of promoting public safety and preventing gun violence. But should all Drill music be banned as a result of tragedy? Is listening to Drill music and watching videos a genuine factor that leads people to commit homicides, more so than the material conditions and environments that Drill rap is centered around? Ultimately, Drill music is a cultural mold within regions across the world, varying from Chicago, to Brooklyn, to London, Ghana, Nigeria, and so many more different landscapes. Drill music is tied to the streets, and the subject matter within it will reflect the reality of street life. The issue is that these government officials tend to be outsiders to the music itself. Eric Adams himself admitted, "I had no idea what drill rapping was, but I called my son, and he sent me some videos, and it is alarming." (Complex). It becomes necessary to have an honest discussion with the people who swear by the music, and who know it firsthand.
In response to the proposal of banning Drill videos from social media, Fivio Foreign, Maino, and other high-profile NY Drill rappers met with the Mayor to voice their concern with his statements. The discussion seemed to go well, according to both sides. ABC News reports that Adams voiced his intent to create a coalition of rappers who would tackle the problem of gun violence in hip-hop, though this has yet to be seen. The events over the last week and a half prove that the debate over hip-hop's self-expression versus its ties to violence is still ongoing, and perhaps more summits like this one can bridge gaps, and help communities break down divisions in favor of creating everlasting arts.
Written by Max Olarinde, @mobeige1 on all social media.
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