Drill is a genre of music that artists use to express what they’ve been through or what they’ve seen. It involves lyrics about violence and murder and many drill artists have been imprisoned and censored by the police.
People want to express themselves which is why music and art exists, however there has been debate around this topic and many people believe that drill music influences violence rather than it being an expression of something that’s already happening.
So why does therapy and drill fit together like madness and humanity? Because humans will always be imperfect and drill rappers will always express the things they’ve seen
The music industry creates a way for many people to not only express themselves and have their opinions and thoughts heard but also to build a legit career and make money. The amount of artists branching out into other lanes has to be applauded from clothing brands, restaurants, books and even silent investments. But at the same time it is a neglected industry. Considering most people who write music express a lot of themselves there is very little mental health support. There is a research study which gives evidence to the exact origins of this lack of support, which I will be writing an article about, but for now one of the main areas people working within this industry don’t focus on is mental health which is why music artists, managers and anyone working within the creative industry would highly benefit from working with youth and therapeutic practitioners. I know that artists make music whether they are suffering or not but what happens when they go home? What happens when authorities take away the only outlet they have?
“Violent crimes, such as murders and gun and knife crime, account for around one per cent of all crime. But the impact of them on society is huge in terms of lives and communities destroyed. So, it is concerning that in recent years the number of these offences being reported have started to rise in England and Wales.” Local Government Association, 2019
Youth violence is more than criminal behaviour and gangs, it’s a lifestyle. It takes over almost every aspect of young lives from relationships, emotional health and community life to career aspirations and self-image.
We all live in our own personal worlds. Consciously or unconsciously we decide how we see ourselves, how we want others to see us, why we do what we do, the story of our lives etc. and according to psychologist Maslow these decisions are often influenced by a hierarchy of needs which include safety, prestige and self-actualization. This theory states that we all want to feel important, we all find ways to raise our status and self-esteem. We can’t do much in this world without money as well so having a name that holds weight, belonging to a notorious group of friends, making a lot of money and being feared gives people a chance to raise their status in their community, gain respect, buy nice things and have power. When you add music into this lifestyle, which is already a neglected industry, a bigger name is created for people outside the community to see.
Maybe in wanting to raise our status we consciously or unconsciously desensitise ourselves from the real aspects of this lifestyle which involves more fear, murder, grief, bereavement, self-medication and loss of freedom than respect and power. In other words, we want something so bad (money, respect and power) that we disconnect from the reality that we’re seriously damaging ourselves and other people. These and many other factors have led to a whole group of young people being overlooked and neglected by authorities and even themselves.
Before you continue reading this article answer this question to yourself: Does anyone in your life actually get you? Do you understand yourself?
Self-knowledge is a type of power. It helps us build a life for ourselves instead of letting life build itself around us. Luckily, music and self-expression fit together like madness and humanity. Writing music gives us a chance to look deeper into our minds, express things that we might not be able to say in a normal conversation and discover things we never knew about ourselves.
It’s clear that most drill rappers can and want to express what they go through in life, on a basic level but a therapist would encourage us to look deeper and this level of depth and vulnerability is often too much for people. There’s also an extra block when we take into account that we can’t relate to most therapists today on a surface level through skin colour, area they come from or life experiences. Although there are people working in these fields from diverse backgrounds, we definitely need more.
Why street therapy could be the solution to the reduction of youth violence and drill?
Street therapy is a less formal type of therapy that involves spending time with a therapist or youth practitioner while you grow and navigate the real world. When you decide to start therapy it’s really important to remember that therapists are people as well. A lot of us have this idea that therapists are like robots that know everything and are supposed to “fix” (I put fix in speech marks because I don’t believe a human being can be broken, we’re not perfect and we’re not supposed to be perfect) us or they’re separate from the rest of us, frauds etc. and I feel like that makes it harder to reach out to them but they’re really people like us who are passionate, empathetic and are trained to help.
Trying to find the right therapist for you can be really tricky. You can find charities that can connect you with these people, there are many youth organisations that offer support, mentoring and safe spaces. I know of one charity called Juvenis that works with young people affected by various issues such as youth violence. Many of the young people they support have a major interest in creativity and music is one of the most popular.
Ebinehita Iyere, a youth practitioner and trainee child and adolescent wellbeing practitioner provides therapeutic safe spaces within schools and the community for males and females aged 11-24 to express themselves verbally but also creatively using music, poetry, art, photography and Lego (yes Lego!) 1:1 or in groups.
Ebinehita believes that:
“We need to focus on the healing of young people affected by violence rather than the criminalisation of them. This is why I work with males and females exploring the root causes that may have impacted them before the violence and also carry on supporting them after the violence. My work has enabled me to have a huge focus on the girls and young women who are unheard yet affected with many layers that is not spoken about”
I’ve been on a journey with one of Ebinehita’s projects called Milk and Honey. I didn’t even realise it was a form of therapy but it really helped me grow, I started seeing myself and life differently and felt way more confident in my abilities and career goals. I now work with them and Juvenis to heal, empower and build resilience in other young women.
Street therapy is ideal for anyone who isn’t ready to open up straight away because you don’t have to open up, you can join a project (basically like a youth club), participate in activities etc until you’re ready to discuss the deep stuff.
As I mentioned in the beginning, I and many others believe drill music has become more popular because the lifestyle has become more popular, maybe because more and more young people are losing trust in education, corporate and government systems, who knows? All I know is there needs to be more focus on the healing of young people affected by violence rather than the criminalisation of them.
Not everyone is handed positive opportunities in life. Fate happens and we end up doing what we feel we have to, to survive. The one thing that hasn’t been pushed enough in the media and our society is that we can create our own destiny, we can change our personal world and there are people who dedicate their lives to helping us do that. You may feel like you don’t have any choices but that doesn’t have to be the case because the truth is, there is no truth. Whatever we believe becomes true because so much of our life is created by our thoughts. That’s why change is possible and we can use the same self-expression we use when writing music to find ourselves and a new direction in life.
“Emotions about the past range from contentment,
serenity, pride and satisfaction to unrelieved bitterness and vengeful anger.
These emotions are completely determined by your thoughts about the past. The
relation of thinking to emotion is one of the oldest and most controversial
issues in psychology”
(Authentic Happiness, Martin Seligman, 2002)
There’s always more to the picture.
Why does no one talk about the impact of youth violence on women? https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/youth-violence-women
Milk and Honey Project – We offer young women an expressive safe space that allows them to flourish and take ownership of H.E.R (Healing, Empowerment and Resilience) through 1:1 sessions and group projects.