Drill rap: “the soundtrack of street life”

This week, the case about two suspects of a violent confrontation between two youth groups from Amsterdam, and Rotterdam on the Pier of Scheveningen was continued. During the confrontation, a nineteen-year-old boy was stabbed and killed. The incident is linked to drill rap by the media, but the question arises to what extent this music plays a role in this instance and other similar events. Jeroen van den Broek, criminologist, and researcher at Erasmus School of Law, answers this question in an interview with NPO Radio 1. Van den Broek and Robby Roks, Assistant Professor of Criminology at Erasmus School of Law, have conducted extensive research into the link between drill rap and violence.

Drill rap is used as a way of expression by youngsters that are embedded into street culture. It helps them to profile themselves online as ‘big boys’ who do not shy away from violence and know street life like no other. The danger is that they want to present themselves as authentic as possible, just like many others on social media do. The consequence is that other youngsters who see these drill rap videos and other types of expressions of violence online might consider this to be real.

To prevent the latter, Van den Broek reckons that prevention is a vital method. On the one hand, by raising awareness amongst the youth about the consequences of claiming such a profile online, and on the other hand by informing them that not everything shown online is real.

It is also important to see drill rap as a step away from the streets instead of a search for violence. Many youngsters see in drill a way of escaping the street life. “It is important to distinguish criminal behaviour from showing off”, says Van den Broek. A big part of what we see within the world of drill rap fits in the latter category. “If we start criminalising drill rap, we miss the point. Do not focus too much on drill rap but try to see the bigger picture.”

Van den Broek and Roks are currently conducting follow-up research into the current difficulties regarding the possession of knives amongst youth, together with Frank Weerman, Professor of Criminology at Erasmus School of Law, and Jip Willink, lecturer of Criminology at Erasmus School of Law. Their research will probably be finalised by mid-2022.

More information

Click here for the entire fragment on NPO Radio 1 (Dutch).

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