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Skengdo x AM drill
A still from Skengdo x AM “Diligent Members” videovia YouTube

London police has forced YouTube to delete over 100 UK drill music videos

The war against London rap rages on

YouTube continues to crack down on the drill scene as more music videos have been pulled down from the platform at the request of London’s police force.

Since the city has seen a rise in knife crime, The Metropolitan Police has continually argued that the underground rap genre is partly responsible, linked a spate of attacks to violent lyrics.

As of last month, the police had requested the removal of 129 videos, of which the music sharing platform deleted 102. This purge has escalated since May last year at which point the Press Association reported that police had requested 50 to 60 videos be removed over the course of two years and Youtube, in response, deleted 30. Some of the videos that were removed later resurfaced on Pornhub.

UK drill has been targeted due to its hyper-local focus; artists reference real-life events and pre-existing gang rivalries. With commenters adding their own real-life perspective to the videos, police argue that the videos are becoming a platform to incite violence.

Mike West heads a London police unit that has compiled a database of around 1,900 drill videos that he told the Press Association, “generate purely a violent retaliatory response.”

However, while drill and other genres like grime, hip hop, and heavy metal have often been scapegoated, there remains no evidence of causal links between music and an increase in violent crimes. 

Last month saw police close a landmark case against Skengdo and AM, two of the biggest names in the UK drill scene. The duo pled guilty to breaching a gang injunction by performing their song Attempted 1.0 during a sold out concert at Koko, London. They received a suspended nine-month jail sentence, making it the first time in British history that an artist has been sentenced to prison for performing a song, Index on Censorship told The Guardian.

AM then added: “They have imposed something that will give us a criminal record just for making music. But there’s just no evidence that censorship is actually going to stop any crime. It’s a very, very weak argument.”

Activists and musicians continue to protest and criticise the actions of the police. TK, a co-founder of Skengdo and AM’s record label Finesse Foreva, told Spin: “This is systematic discrimination. We all know removing a video doesn’t stop crime and crimes are committed by individuals that have real issues in real life, not a song.”

He continued: “Opposing drill artists listen to each-others music and actually commend one another. People are stabbing each-other and committed crimes such as robberies because of real-life issues, not music.”

Read more about the hyperlocal rap scene that The Metropolitan Police wants to silence here.