Western Sydney hip-hop has a huge following, and has garnered millions of fans both locally and overseas.
The popularity of Drill music, and Western Sydney hip hop in general is potentially set to take a hit, with the announcement of a new initiative by the NSW Police.
Despite the positive messages of hope and inspiration, that the artists themselves have actively sought in representing a positive portrayal of Western Sydney, the scene is set to suffer some setbacks due to the NSW police intervening and banning shows, and targeting the streaming platforms that support local music.
The NSW Police stand by their decision, taking aim at the music for glorifying postcode gang wars. To date, they have managed to effectively ban OneFour, an all-Pasifika four-piece from Mount Druitt from performing live, over fears of violence and “antisocial behaviour” at their gigs. OneFour did state at the time of the ban there had been no arrests or violence at any of their previous concerts. Ay Huncho (a member of OneFour) recently told Spectrum. “I have a story. I’ve lived through an alleged [gang] war. I’m here to tell my side of the story,”
Sydney rapper, A Girl, has weighed in on the topic, sharing in a recent interview with SMH, that there is violence in the Western Sydney “Stabbings have been real. There have even been shootings. It happens’ But she hopes to bypass such distractions and use her art to piece together the broken pieces of the place she calls home, the “area”. “I don’t glorify what goes on in the area, I’m wanting to be like, this is my truth: a bunch of kids hanging out at the shops, in my housing commission home, on a basketball court, because this is me and this is where I’m from.”
The initiative has led to questions of censorship, and what is seen as keeping marginalised voices outside the national conversation. Music industry figures and legal experts have heavily criticised a proposal floated by NSW Police that would censor certain forms of hip-hop music in Australia, in particular Drill.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Monday, NSW Police acting assistant commissioner Jason Weinstein said that the police would contact streaming platforms and ask them to remove music police believe incites violence or criminal activity.
“Drill music and songs (in some cases) are being weaponised to basically inflame a conflict with another side. We don’t have the power to stop anything such as concerts or songs or what people post. So it goes back to the moderators like YouTube, Snapchat and those social media platforms.”
In terms of moderation, the NSW Police have said that they will take the initiative in relation to any content that contains material inciting violence or criminal activity.
The NSW Police are a sickening cancer on Australian music. Between this and the racist, fearmongering shit they crowbarred onto the front page of the Tele around Western Sydney rap yesterday, they need to be held to account. https://t.co/MEoO2YrJBz
— nic kelly (@nicwkelly) July 12, 2022