Last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams fired his first salvo in the ongoing war on drill music in the city. The former NYPD officer told a group of reporters that his son, a Roc Nation employee, showed him some drill videos and “it was alarming.” He was so distraught that he announced plans to ask social media platforms to ban the videos, speaking to their supposed “civic and corporate responsibility” to censor art.
“We pulled Trump off Twitter because of what he was spewing. Yet we are allowing music [with the] displaying of guns, violence. We allow this to stay on the sites,” Adams said. Unsurprisingly, he omitted any reference to alleviating the social factors that cause the violence depicted in the drill scene.
In the proverbial elected official handbook, “condemn art to stoke moral panic” comes before “use local art to appraise social conditions.” Maybe the latter isn’t even a suggestion. Adams is one of many local politicians scapegoating their local rap scene as the cause of their municipalities’ violence, in order to justify being “tough on crime.” But the difference between him and most politicians is that he’s able to use the might of one of the largest police forces in the world to enforce his agenda.
New York City’s drill scene is already reeling from the consequences of the lifestyle referenced in the music. Its biggest star, Pop Smoke, died due to gun violence. So many of its brightest lights, such as Sheff G and Kay Flock, are currently incarcerated. Hot 97’s DJ Drewski, one of the scene’s biggest advocates, reacted to the gun violence by resolving not to play violent diss records that reflect an ongoing gang war, which has claimed the lives of dozens of drill rappers in the past several years.