Censorship, The Grim Reaper of Black Artistry

Minou Itseli

By Minou Itseli

Minou Itseli

13 Jul 2019

Drill is just what they said about grime 10 years ago? 

Whats the difference between the radio ban of Billie Holiday, a 1960s jazz singer and suspension of drill music video on YouTube?

The media agenda against jazz and rock is similar to the medias outrage towards drill?

Dan McOwen Wilson, director of YouTube UK, has stated that drill music will not be removed from the platform.

Previously, the rap duo Krept and Konan released a new single and short film, Ban Drill. Before the release, there were constant teasers such as artist appearances from Headie one, Young adz, Unknown t, Digdat, RV and many more.

The visual is purely about the different outcomes when suppressing the genre drill. The background of ‘Ban drill’ stems from the metropolitan police linking the genre to an increase in knife crime and violence. Actions such as categorising drill as a catalyst of violence, rappers sentenced for performing drill music and the police have consequently directed YouTube to remove over 90 drill music videos which they claim glorifies violence.

Krept and Konan started a petition on http://Change.org, urging the Crown Prosecution Service to end police from using the Serious Crime Act to target drill artists. 

For instance, the group 1011 were assigned with a court order banning them from producing music without police verification. Additionally, Skengdo and AM were sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years, since they are breaching a gang injunction by performing their song. 

However, the culture is no stranger to censorship just like the Grim Reaper it collects souls in this case black music.

Radio ban

Billie Holiday is known as one of the best jazz vocalists of all time, Holiday had a thriving career as a jazz singer for many years. 

We say this now but why did the grim reaper came for Holiday and waited for the last grain of sand to fall to censor her?

During the late 1930s, Holiday faced an unofficial ban from radio stations due to her anti-lynching message on “Strange Fruit’, inspired by the public lynching of two black teenagers. This indicates that black music is a true reflection of both internal and external struggles of the black community as it engages with the will of society in whole.

People around the world have praised the genre jazz as “one of the original art forms”.

Council attempt.

Despite, the Reaper stopped off at the genre, it still evolved to become one of the most respected genres. The DJ Dave Haslam addressed the issue by including several moral guardians as opposed to the ‘negro’ origin of the music. The agenda of jazz was described as ‘morally bad’, kindled by racist, hysterical right-wing press very similar to today’s media. 

This agenda even had the Leyton council driven to shut down any venues hosting jazz functions.

The Daily Mail agenda

In this current climate, rock n roll is one of the most-streamed genres. Nonetheless, the attempt of censorship swung by Rock’s place in the 1950s. The Daily Mail set a negative tone on Rock, they stated “It has something of the African tom tom and voodoo dance. It is deplorable. It is tribal. And it is from America. It follows rag-time, dixie, jazz, hot cha cha, and boogie-woogie, which surely originated in the jungle. We sometimes wonder whether it is the negro’s revenge.”

The FBI vs NWA

NWA considered to be one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of hip hop music. The reaper continued his censorship mission as he stopped by in 1989. The FBI addressed Priority Records in protest of N.W.A.’s song “Fuck Tha Police.” In the letter, they declared that “Advocating violence and assault is wrong, and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action.


British culture is no stranger to censorship, not only genres as a whole have been targeted but specific artists. The reaper has knocked a couple of doors on our beloved artists. 

Giggs was a victim of this as the Police attempt to alarm XL Records furthermore try to stop his record deal. The police frequently ordered the cancellation of his live shows and refer indefinite “potential risks” for their claims they were empowered by Form 696, the risk-assessment document that many have claimed it racially discriminates.

Moreover, Giggs mentioned during his trial, the CPS used songs from his early mixtape to strive to silent him. The pattern of censorship has been based on targetting and silencing the genre or musicians despite the right of freedom of speech. In this case, the police tried to silence Giggs of making a career in rap music. 


The strategy of the Met risk-assessment form 696 restricted grime in the club scene. Quite similar to Leyton’s council attempts to shut down jazz clubs. It has been published police positions to racial profiling, implying: “Is there a particular ethnic group attending? If ‘yes’, please state group.” 

Police officers vocally spoke against the grime. The agenda of grime being violent, and news outlets objecting “Grime should clean up its act?”. We previously have seen this issue with the Daily Mail’s agenda against rock ‘n’ roll. Although the show must go on, this reflects on the importance of pirate radio and channels such as channel u which help launched the careers of Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, and Skepta.


But what brings us here?

The grim reaper is now tapping on Drill’s door. 

The genre drill arose in the 2010s, the genre has internet platforms to distribute their music, particularly such as Link up TV, GRM Daily, http://SB.TV, Mixtape Madness, PacMan TV and Pressplay Media. 

History is continuously repeating itself, the lack of concern towards our reality, culture, sound, freedom of speech and our progress has been overwhelming.

The media furthers this agenda that drill encourage knife crime and violence within the youth rather than the genre is a reflection on the reality and it’s a form of expression. Also, we have noticed some drill artists have taken more of mainstream approach with their sound due to the negative stigma. 

Krept & Konan’s Ban Drill triggered a discussion of this constant issue. The rap duo took part in a parliamentary debate on the criminalisation of drill rappers and stated “there is a long history of suffering in black music. That collective expression is important, particularly for a deprived and otherwise voiceless community.” 

What if drill shifted their content into something socially appropriate – would it be much matter? 

What if the controversial lyrics quieted down, but their reality didnt? 

What if drill never grabbed it’s place in the music scene – would it matter, after all?

Dan McOwen Wilson stated YouTube is ‘a place for those who do not have a voice’. Tell us your thoughts ?