Does drill rap cause fatal stabbings?

Many associate drill rap with violence and find the images and words used offensive. That there are concerns about this music genre is not surprising, according to Robby Roks, assistant professor of Criminology at Erasmus School of Law: the music contains many references to violence and detests rivals. But is drill rap actually the cause of fatal violent incidents? Robby Roks talks about this in a lecture at the Universiteit van Nederland.

To answer this question, according to Roks, it is essential to understand where drill rap comes from and to look at the genre in its context. In his lecture, he first looks back on the 1970s and 1980s, when hip-hop and gangsta rap emerged in the United States. Drill rap, however, is much more recent: this genre originated about a decade ago. Initially, most references were made to firearms, from which drill rap takes its name. Drill rap eventually ended up in the Netherlands via the United Kingdom, and references to knife violence increasingly replaced the references of firearms.

According to Roks, it is important that we do not always take the references to violence literally. These references are not always authentic, but they are alarming. However, there also are specific references to actual events; conflicts in the physical world that eventually end up in music. However, violence isn't the only thing drill rap is about, Roks said. He talks about his research into the Hague Crips from the 1980s, in which the symbolic meaning was especially important: young people mainly wanted to be part of a group and radiate this.

According to Roks, the problem is not in the drill rap but in the young drillers' social media use. They call out opponents and communicate about violence through online channels. This is not always harmless: this dissemination via social media creates a lot of commotion and puts considerable pressure on young people. In the end, this can actually result in physical or even fatal violence.

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You can view the full lecture (in Dutch) here.