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A Tortoise File

Policing black music

How Drill – the sound of Chicago’s streets – rewrote the rules of the music business

Policing black music

First published
Monday 5 October 2020

Last updated
Tuesday 17 November 2020

Why this story?

Drill music is not ignored, far from it, but it gets covered in a particular way; too often as an agent of violence, too rarely as a form of music in its own right.

Drill sits where cutting-edge black music has always sat, at an uncomfortable crossroads between Black cultural expression and oppressive policing. It’s part of the long history of Black artists struggling to make their voices heard. What it tells us about life in poor communities is important. What it’s done to the music industry is fascinating. Ceri Thomas, editor