Policing Black sound: performing UK Grime and Rap music under routinised surveillance

Summer 2020
DOI: 10.3898/SOUN.75.03.2020

The recent sounds of BLM protests can be thought of as reconstituting George Floyd’s extinguished voice - amplifying his solitary protest against restraint through creating a ruckus that interrupted the wider silencing of Black voices. UK Grime and Rap music is another way in which these silences are being challenged today, in the face of all the attempts to police it and close it down, and to restrict the artistic freedom of young Black musicians, especially as expressed in Drill music. Policing Black sound is part of the wider policing of the black body - and restrictions on Black music are discussed in relation to the many laws on anti-social behaviour that have been enacted since New Labour’s first creation of ASBOs. David Starkey’s fear about whites becoming black is linked to a long-held fear on the right about the potentially corrupting effect of Black music on white listeners, and its perceived threat to the status quo - the spread of a ‘dub virus’. 

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Soundings 75: System change