Violent music vs violence and music: Drill rap and violent crime in London

Bennett Kleinberg*, Paul McFarlane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperScientific

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The current policy of removing drill music videos from social media platforms such as YouTube remains controversial because it risks conflating the co-occurrence of drill rap and violence with a causal chain of the two. Empirically, we revisit the question of whether there is evidence to support the conjecture that drill music and gang violence are linked. We provide new empirical insights suggesting that: i) drill music lyrics have not become more negative over time if anything they have become more positive; ii) individual drill artists have similar sentiment trajectories to other artists in the drill genre, and iii) there is no meaningful relationship between drill music and real-life violence when compared to three kinds of police-recorded violent crime data in London. We suggest ideas for new work that can help build a much-needed evidence base around the problem.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Computer Science - Social and Information Networks
  • Computer Science - Computation and Language


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