Over the weekend The Times ran a piece with the headline "Top DJ Tim Westwood profits from gangs," in what appeared to be an attempt to link UK drill music to the wave of violence currently being reported in London. The article claims that Westwood's YouTube channel – where he hosts freestyle videos by a wide range of artists – encourages gang activity, and profits (via advertisements) from featuring gang members.
The Times states that it has seen a police report which says that Westwood's channel hosts 32 videos which "potentially incite violence."
While there are plenty of things to call Westwood out on, it's pretty clear that this isn't really about him, and is more to do with right-wing media continuing to fallaciously link UK urban music, particularly drill, with violence. Speaking on BBC Radio 4 earlier today, 67's DJ Bempah discussed this tendency, noting that drill is made up of "real life content. You talk about things that happen from day to day, what happened down the road from your house." He added, "A lot of people are relating drill music to the crime that's going on on these roads, which I don't understand at all, I don't really see the correlation. Music can affect your emotions, but it can't affect what you do outside it."
Meanwhile, Tim Westwood responded to the accusations listed in The Times via a spokesperson, who stated:
These artists featured on TimWestwoodTV are rap groups not gangs. There is no payment or fee to be featured on TimWestwoodTV. The freestyle sessions operate at a loss, as they do not even cover the production cost of making the video. We have a compliance process of all videos being approved before release by an executive producer in charge of content and editorial guidelines. Any threats of violence would be removed from the video.
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