Read this thought-provoking article on music journalism and the Drill scene

12.11.12

Jordan Pedersen, an American comedy writer and self-described hip-hop obsessive, has written an article at Hyper Vocal that exposes some uncomfortable truths about how Chicago hip hop has been reported on in 2012. The Chicago “Drill” scene has been considerably hyped this year, spurred on by the breakout success of Chief Keef’s ‘I Don’t Like’, leading to Kanye West reworking it for his G.O.O.D Music album sampler this summer.

Pedersen begins his piece by noting that while a clip showing Drill MC and recent Def Jam recruit Lil Reese brutally attacking a young woman was reported by several hip hop specialist sites, much of the wider North American online music press – many of the same places championing the Drill scene – remained silent. He then charts Chicago’s spiralling murder figures for this year, while observing a dearth of reporting on the uglier events surrounding the scene, despite a continued championing of the frequently violent-minded music.

The article is not aimed to unnecessarily vilify or point the finger, but rather is driven by genuine concern for the writer’s city and the effects of unbalanced coverage:

“Don’t hide behind your status as a music blog. Start earning the “journalist” half of what you call yourselves: I depend on you guys to tell me what’s going on in the hip-hop world — good and bad — and you let me down. But more importantly, you’re letting this city down by reporting with blinders on.”

Pedersen also flags up the adolescence of the likes of Chief Keef (17) and Lil Reese (19), questioning how violence is handled in their teenage hands:

“These kids are the product of a system that leaves them without the schooling, parental guidance and social safety net that would prevent them from growing into the monsters they’re already becoming. There’s a fine line between documentary realism and straight-up promotion of violence, and I don’t expect these kids to walk it with anything approaching the subtlety of Jay-Z or, more recently, Schoolboy Q.”

The piece has been drawing widespread reactions on Twitter, and can be read in full here.