The Road, In Court: How UK Drill Music Became a Criminal Offence

Lambros Fatsis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


UK Drill music routinely features in the nation’s courtrooms as evidence of criminal wrongdoing, owing to the graphic imagery of the genre’s lyrical and video content. Such a response may seem justified, due to fatal incidents associated with drill music, but it remains difficult to prove a direct link between drill lyrics or videos and the evidential facts of criminal offences. Beyond speculation and interpretation, relying on drill music to bring criminal charges against individuals not only turns music-making into a criminal offence. It also exposes prosecutorial tactics that fail to uphold high standards of evidence and reproduce racist stereotypes about Black music genres and “criminality”. Drawing on my ongoing involvement as an expert witness in court cases that translate drill lyrics and videos into incriminating evidence, this chapter challenges the admissibility of such evidence as factually inaccurate to prove guilt — arguing that putting drill on trial conflates the literary and the literal, risking prejudicial assumptions about an art form, its producers and audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUnderstanding Gender On Road
EditorsJade Levell, Tara Young, Rod Earle
PublisherBristol University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


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