A Garage Music Festival was not where I expected to be on a Saturday night but I decided to be curious. Garage Music is one of the original music genres which has been linked to the extreme gang violence of shootings and stabbings now reported daily. I felt a bit nervous. The music of my youth was about love, heartbreak, fun, dancing and sometimes social issues, but never violence.
Of course, singing about violence isn’t new, and neither are gangs. And gangs following certain types of music isn’t new either – we’ve had Teddy Boys, Skinheads, Hells Angels and so on who all got involved in fighting, often a rite of passage for many young boys, but they seem so benign and harmless compared to gangs now (except the Hells Angels!). And as for violent music, yes we’ve had Heavy Metal (devil worship) and extreme artists like Alice Cooper. But again nothing like the violence linked to certain types of music these days. Most of us dressed and hung around in groups to match our choice of music when teenagers without getting into violent fights.What is going on? Is the violence instigated by the music or is the music merely reflecting the world around us?
Recently the Metropolitan police asked youtube to take down 30 music videos instigating violence. The police felt strongly that these were connected to the huge rise in gang related stabbings, shootings, moped muggings and even acid attacks across many big cities that occur daily. Drill music and Drill videos seem to be the main protagonists. They feature rappers singing about stabbing or shooting their ‘enemies’ (often boys who merely live in a different postcode), and it seems that if you are young and live in areas where this goes on you have no choice but to belong to a gang, as you will be attacked for even straying into the wrong street.
These videos glamourise violence, murder and death as if it is nothing. Certainly many young (and not so young) men involved in the reported daily violence are found to be in gangs who watch or even make Drill videos. A recent arrest of young men with machetes and other weapons were intercepted by the police who had seen their ‘Drill’ video online threatening to attack an ‘enemy’ gang. Last weekend 30 young boys were arrested for fighting with 12 inch knives (over a belt!) which ended in two of them being disemboweled! I haven’t read about such every day horror since I studied medieval history at school!
What about girls in all of this? Yes, girl gangs exist too. But within Drill music culture girls are merely there to be used for sex – the lower down the scale they are the more males they have to service sexually. Even further up the scale where the girls may have a main ‘man’ they are still expected to offer sex to those in his group. Whatever happened to love and young men romancing the girl of their dreams?
One thing is for sure, that young people – boys especially – who listen to this type of violent music have become totally desensitised to extreme violence and murder, placing no value on their own or other’s lives. To do so many evil things at such young ages seems unfathomable, especially when I look at my own youth. The biggest angst I ever had was over some broken love affair or other, not whether to shoot or stab someone!
Some have tried to say that violent computer games and films have a part in this. I doubt it it although I can’t be sure. While I think it’s not good for kids to watch that stuff, many children do but don’t end up doing anything violent whatsoever – they probably just have nightmares instead. Perhaps the difference is parental control – if the parents find out and it’s stopped, the kids then know the boundaries. But f the parents are useless and disinterested then perhaps the kids move onto dangerous violent music videos and lyrics once into puberty because there is no one to stop them. So I do feel lack of parental interest is the main cause not the video games themselves. We have all seen violent films at some point in our lives, but we didn’t then go and shoot someone!
Or is it that violent music – Drill and Rap etc – is merely reflecting what is going on in the streets and so violent youngsters are attracted to it? if that is the case, the question is still why are there so many violent young people who need to see this reflected in their music? And why only certain groups of young men in certain areas rather than everywhere? Some say social deprivation is key but I do not agree – people lived in terrible poverty up until and including the beginning of the last century, but mindless violence as bad as this did not exist – Jack The Ripper was a huge exception not the norm.
What I do know is that music videos showing young men making gun signs, singing about murder, stabbing, shooting, muggings, and describing women as nothing more than whores only adds to the dumbing down and debasing of our society that has gone on for decades, culminating in the stinking pit we are now in. And our big cities are now magnets for drug dealers and top level criminals from all over the world who use gang culture to recruit young men into a life of violence that can only end in death or prison.
So what of the Garage Festivall? Benign … just the usual concert mix of all ages and races enjoying themselves. And the artists? Most of them are middle-aged now and looked rather smug – certainly none of them are living the violent gang life they made their money singing about …hey ho!
As for me, give me a melody I can hum and dream to anyday …