Two of the UK’s biggest drill artists have been handed suspended jail sentences for breaching a gang injunction imposed to prevent them from performing music that police said incited violence against rivals.
Terrell Doyley and Joshua Malinga, known as Skengdo and AM respectively, have appeared on BBC Radio 1, performed at the Reading and Leeds festivals and received a four-star review in the Guardian.
Scotland Yard said the pair, who are both 21, were sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Croydon County Court after breaching an interim gang injunction.
Their manager, TK, told the Press Association the musicians were not involved in gang violence, but pleaded guilty after a video of one of their live performances was uploaded to the internet without their knowledge.
The injunction was made against the men after the court found they were members of a south London gang, and linked with rising violence in the Lambeth borough on August 14, according to the Metropolitan Police.
The force said they breached it by performing “drill music that incited and encouraged violence against rival gang members and then posted it on social media”.
Detective Inspector Luke Williams, of Lambeth and Southwark’s gangs unit, said: “Gang injunctions are a great way to enable officers to tackle those involved in gangs and serious violence.
“Where intelligence identifies somebody is a member of a gang and the requirements of the Policing and Crime Act are met, we will seek to obtain gang injunctions to suppress serious violence across the Capital.
“I am pleased with the sentences passed in these cases, which reflect that the police and courts are unwilling to accept behaviour leading to serious violence. The court found that violence in drill music can, and did in this case, amount to gang-related violence.”
Skengdo and AM, who are linked to Brixton’s 410 group, are one of the country’s most well-known drill acts, selling out two tours last year.
Their YouTube videos, including a Radio1Xtra session uploaded this week, have racked up hundreds of thousands of views.
TK, the director of Finesse Foreva, said they were served with an injunction last year, banning them from going to certain areas, associating with named individuals, and placing restrictions on them making music and performing.
He said police at a hearing in January tried to link Skengdo and AM to the history of Brixton crime.
“They didn’t find nothing on them in terms of violence because they don’t have nothing on them,” he said.
“Last time they might have had any run-ins with the law was when they were 16 and 17.
“They started deciphering slang terms in court, it was all a bit weird.
“Deciphering slang terms to an old-head white woman who probably lives in the countryside or something.”
TK said they “basically beat the case”, but had to plead guilty over a clip from a recent live performance of their track Attempted.
A music video entitled Attempted 1.0 on YouTube has repeated references to associates being “cheffed”, or stabbed, and the rappers make suggestions for alternatives to avoid violent situations.
In the song, one associate is attacked buying chicken wings, which prompts the lyrics: “Don’t nobody know about UberEats?” When another is stabbed on the bus the lyrics ask: “Don’t nobody know about Addison Lee?”
The chorus goes: “Attempted? Should’ve been a murder. How you gonna run with your burner? We’re active. Let’s go halves on a burger. Big Mac-10, can I get fries?”
TK said the rappers are still allowed to associate with each other and other 410 members, but cannot go to Kennington – the home of rivals Harlem Spartans, or mention their name.
TK also denied they had to pay for the Met’s costs, as the force has claimed.
“Why the Met’s probably done that is because they want to affect their lives, scare big venue owners off,” he added.