Lyrics so sickening they’re banned
THE music videos often feature gangs, weapons, violence and threats of revenge attacks - and now the artists have been banned from even making them.
The unprecedented move against west London "drill" group 1011 comes as the United Kingdom deals with a rising knife crime problem, that has seen almost 50 fatal stabbings in the capital alone this year, and daily attacks.
The rappers - who specialise in a genre of rap music that originated on the south side of Chicago - must now obtain permission from Scotland Yard before making or performing music after a court order banned them from mentioning rival gangs in their music.
The group's five members - Yonas Girma, 21, Micah Bedeau, 19, Isaac Marshall, 18, Jordan Bedeau, 17, and Rhys Herbert, 17 - were jailed last week after being found guilty of planning a machete attack on a rival gang. They have previously rapped about stabbing the gang.
They have also been banned from encouraging violence and mentioning postcodes in a gang context, a popular way of inflaming tensions. Any future videos will also have to do without gang-related hand gestures, and they are forbidden from wearing bandana in public.
The 1011 members were convicted of conspiracy to commit violent disorder. Police said they were planning a revenge attack on rival gang 12-World, also from west London, who had filmed themselves harassing and threatening the Bedeau brothers' grandmother.
Drill is a dark and confrontational style of rap that first began in Chicago. Artists have had only minor success, but their videos have been viewed on YouTube millions of times. Police have repeatedly blamed drill for the rise in knife crime and have ordered YouTube to remove dozens of videos.
They were arrested last November while they were on their way to confront 12-World and were found to be armed with machetes, knives and bats.
The order means when they are released they will not be allowed to reference violence in their music.
Detective Superintendent Mike West said the number of videos that "incite violence" have been increasing for three years.
"The gangs try to outrival each other with the filming and content - what looks like a music video can actually contain explicit language with gangs threatening each other," he told The Independent. "There are gestures of violence, with hand signals suggesting they are firing weapons and graphic descriptions of what they would do to each other."
The 1011 videos played in court included lyrics like "back out the spinner [gun] and burst [shoot] him. I put bullets in numerous guys like how come the opps [rivals] ain't learning?"
Others referred to shooting a rival dead "Clock me an opp, wind down the window..."
Another: "OT [out of town] trip trying to get some funds [money]. We get bread and invest in guns. Dem boy run when we tapped **** ching, splash aim for his lungs."
It continued with a reference to the notorious moped gangs terrorising London: "Four men on two peds [mopeds] jump off with my shank [knife] leave an opp boy splattered."
Detective Chief Superintendent Kevin Southworth, head of the Met Police's Trident gang unit, said the landmark order was an important case.
"[They] take detailed and firm measures to restrict the actions of a gang who blatantly glorified violence through the music they created. Their lyrics referenced real events that had happened and made threats that further violence would take place. If they break the conditions of the CBOs they will be back before the courts."
He claimed police were not being killjoys. "We're not in the business of killing anyone's fun, we're not in the business of killing anyone's artistic expression - we are in the business of stopping people being killed. When in this instance you see a particular genre of music being used specifically to goad, to incite, to provoke, to inflame, that can only lead to acts of very serious violence being committed, that's when it becomes a matter for the police."
He said the move wasn't about regulation or censorship and denied "demonising any one type of music".
Youth worker Colin James, 48, is helping rehabilitate young gang members at his Gangs Unite charity in South London. He told news.com.au the ban did nothing to address the "underlying issues".
"It [the music] is an expression but it is not really the issue. They are always going about drill music this, drill music that - it just doesn't make sense. They have to look at why they are wanting to do that in the first place."
In many ways, it was a sign of the times, he explained.
"In previous times with punk rock they have [sung] about killing the Queen - but there were no decisions to ban."
Freedom of expression campaigners also criticised the move. Index on Censorship chief executive Jodie Ginsberg said: "Banning a kind of music is not the way to handle ideas or opinions that are distasteful or disturbing.
"This isn't going to address the issues that lead to the creation of this kind of music, nor should we be creating a precedent in which certain forms of art which include violent images or ideas are banned. We need to tackle actual violence, not ideas and opinions."
Mic, a rapper and producer form north London, told the BBC the order "sets an ugly precedent".
He said: "There is a censorship problem in the country. There are a lot of young musicians in this country whose only outlet for expressing themselves is music.
"It might be violent but what do you expect in the Britain we're in right now?"