Drill rappers, including those who incite gang violence, are given free clothes by major sportswear firms to promote them in videos on YouTube.
Members of Moscow17 claim they were paid £350 each to wear Adidas and other brands.
Friends and family of murdered rapper Rhyhiem Barton allege the firms ‘have blood on their hands’ because they exploit the groups’ often violent reputations to market their products.
Adidas have been paying drill rap artists as must as £350 to wear their sportswear on videos
Father-of-one Sidique Kamara, 23, was knifed to death in Camberwell on Wednesday night
One friend said: ‘They get sponsored by Adidas and Nike to post things on social media, on YouTube and Snapchat. The boys get invited into the office or warehouse, and Adidas just say “take what you want” in the hope that they wear it in a video.’
Rhyhiem’s godmother Lacey Main said: ‘These companies know this has gone too far, they know kids are killing one another with the purpose of boosting their credibility, and yet [by sponsoring the music] they encourage it.’
She urged YouTube to take responsibility and remove the videos.
One Moscow17 member, who did not want to be named, said that while the rappers did not have individual contracts with the sportswear brands, they could be paid if they wore their clothes in a social media post or music video.
‘If you wear Adidas… you can make £350. We don’t have a direct contract with them but get paid through the production company,’ he said.
Link Up TV and Press Play Media, the production companies behind many tracks by Moscow17 and Zone2, did not reply to requests for comment. Adidas confirmed it has given merchandise to drill artists but said it ‘condemns all forms of violence and in no way condones gang culture’. Nike did not respond to requests for comment.
Drill rapper is knifed to death in ‘revenge’ after he was cleared of street murder
By JOSH WHITE, REBECCA CAMBER AND CHRISTIAN GYSIN
A ‘drill’ rapper was stabbed to death yards from his home – after being cleared of murder himself.
Sidique Kamara, 23, was knifed by bike-riding thugs in a suspected targeted killing in London on Wednesday.
Sidique Kamara, 23, was knifed by bike-riding thugs in a suspected targeted killing in London on Wednesday
Local MP Harriet Harman last night blamed the internet for the surge in violence
As his local MP Harriet Harman last night blamed the internet for the violent crimewave gripping the capital, it emerged that Mr Kamara had been dubbed a ‘marked man’ after being charged with another knife murder earlier this year.
Drill music is an aggressive form of rap which often features masked young men brandishing guns and knives.
Mr Kamara, known as ‘Incognito’ among South London’s drill scene, was accused of killing 17-year-old Abdirahman Mohamed and described by prosecutors as an ‘elder’ of a violent gang. He was found not guilty at the Old Bailey.
Father-of-one Mr Kamara rapped about his acquittal by a jury over the death of the teenager, who police believed was executed outside a fried chicken shop for ‘disrespecting’ another youth.
In one track, the rapper boasted: ‘Every day I pray to God, won the trial, I’m really blessed, could’ve got life.’
Friends left floral tributes yesterday near the murder scene in Camberwell
But in an apparent revenge killing on Wednesday night, Mr Kamara was stabbed in Camberwell, South-East London, a stone’s throw away from where Rhyhiem Barton, 17, a member of the same rap music collective as him, was shot dead in May.
Two other males, aged 16 and 31 suffered injuries. Two teenagers, aged 18 and 19, were arrested on suspicion of murder.
Mr Kamara was a prominent member of the South London-based Moscow17 collective.
After his death, fans of Moscow17’s bitter rivals, Peckham-based Zone2, gleefully noted on social media how the group had been all but wiped out.
On Instagram, ghoulish users called his death ‘karma’ and implied his death was revenge for the killing he had been cleared of.
Moscow17 and Zone2, which have both benefited from the patronage of former BBC Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood, have constantly traded barbs on social media and via the lyrics of their raps on YouTube.
In one track, Moscow17 told Zone2 to ‘check the scoreboard’. A Zone2 lyric told their rivals they would ‘roll up and burst them’.
As the Metropolitan Police last night appealed for witnesses, Labour MP Miss Harman called for internet companies to ‘take responsibility’ if their platforms are being used to incite crime. She told a community meeting: ‘We cannot have the internet to plan and organise crime.
‘The internet companies have got to step up on that. I’m going to be asking the Home Affairs committee to look into if we have enough powers to make sure the internet is not used for criminal activity for gangs.’
Asked if she thought drill music was contributing to violence, she said: ‘We need the freedom for creativity in art but no one’s got the freedom to plan and incite crime.’
In a recent interview, Mr Kamara spoke about the effect of London’s drill music on crime in the city. ‘You’ve got to put your hands up and say drill music does influence it,’ he admitted. Yesterday, his family were too distraught to speak. Neighbours said that apart from Mr Kamara, the family were friendly and well-liked in the area. After Rhyhiem’s death, his mother Pretana Morgan made an emotional call to end the violence.
She said: ‘Let my son be the last and be an example to everyone. Just let it stop.’ Detective Chief Inspector Richard Leonard, of Scotland Yard, said: ‘Another young man has tragically and needlessly lost his life through violence.’ Mr Kamara’s death is the 88th killing in London so far this year, compared with 118 in the whole of last year. He was killed a day after Scotland Yard boss Cressida Dick claimed the surge in violent crime had begun to ‘stabilise’.
Police continued to search for evidence at the murder scene yesterday
She added: ‘In the first five months of 2018 we saw on average around 15 homicides per month. For June and July the average was around six a month.’
However, other calculations suggested the murder rate in London had reached a high of 18 in a month for February and March – overtaking New York for the first time.
YouTube has been criticised for failing to remove drill music videos inciting violence and drug use.
It profits by running adverts on the videos and passes some of the cash on to the video creators.
YouTube says the revenue it makes from these videos is ‘very small’, and says it works to stop its site being used to ‘incite violence’.
Detective Superintendent Helen Lyons said last night: ‘Initial inquiries are indicating that it may have begun with a robbery.’
Detective Inspector Luke Williams said: ‘The issue we have in terms in arresting and prosecuting people is we need evidence and we need evidence from witnesses or the community and it’s not forthcoming.’
Ex-Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood backs feuding rap gangs after promoting drill videos that end in bloodshed
By REBECCA CAMBER
Standing with two murdered drill rappers, former Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood is again drawn into a deadly gang feud.
The 60-year-old son of a bishop has become caught up in violent gang music, with several drill videos he promotes ending in bloodshed.
The DJ was pictured with Sidique Kamara, 23, also known as Incognito, and Rhyhiem Barton, 17, when their group Moscow17 appeared on his YouTube TV channel.
Tim Westwood, pictured with members of the Moscow17 Drill rap group including Sidique Kamara, circled left, and Rhyhiem Barton, circled right, who have both been murdered
Mr Kamara was stabbed to death in Camberwell, south-east London, on Wednesday, just weeks after releasing a tribute song to Mr Barton, who died on the same street after a shooting in May.
At the time, Mr Westwood was hundreds of miles away from the scene of the murder, in which he played no part.
But the latest death of a rapper he promoted has again thrown into question his role in feting drill videos that provoke violence. Drill music – a form of rap with violent lyrics – is associated with gangs, and many drill videos feature masked rappers threatening violence and bragging about drugs, knives and guns.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has linked its videos to an increase in knife and gun crime.
Once one of the country’s best- known DJs, Mr Westwood has been criticised for featuring rap videos ‘inciting violence’ on his YouTube channel.
In June, a judge at Kingston Crown Court in west London singled him out for criticism as five members of the 1011 gang were jailed for a total of more than ten years for plotting a machete attack on the rival 12 World gang.
Both men were murdered only yards from each other on Warham Street, Camberwell
Judge Ann Mulligan, who also banned the rap group from making their music, said: ‘The defendants made an appearance on the TimWestwoodTV channel, introduced as the 1011 gang.
‘It is fortunate that video is no longer publicly available. These are high-profile videos taunting and ridiculing the 12 World gang and referring to actual fights.
‘They reference murders, stabbings, drug deals, as well as appalling attitude to women. The videos incite violence.’
A month earlier, Mr Westwood was mentioned at the Old Bailey by Judge Nicholas Cooke QC, who said drill music was putting innocent people in ‘harm’s way’ as two gang members were convicted of murdering an innocent music producer following a feud played out in rap videos featured by the DJ.
Dean Pascal-Modeste, 21, was stabbed 14 times by Devone Pusey, 20, and Kai Stewart, 18, as he was on his way to a recording session on February 24 last year.
He was hunted down in south-east London by members of the B Side gang from Lewisham because he was friends with their rivals the Splash gang, who were locked in a ‘poisonous’ YouTube rap feud, exchanging barbs in their online videos on TimWestwoodTV. A Met Police database that tracks more than 600 suspected gangsters across 1,100 YouTube clips, names 32 videos on his channel that potentially incite violence.
The DJ, who hosted the BBC Radio 1 Rap Show for 20 years until 2013, earns money from advertising on the channel.
It has amassed 388million views by broadcasting clips including hundreds of rap videos from mainstream stars and suspected gang members.
Many that show suspected gang members in balaclavas making threats against rivals are still on YouTube.
This year, the family of a murdered teenager accused Mr Westwood of glamorising knife crime after he recorded a video with a gang celebrating the killing. Abdullahi Tarabi, 19, was stabbed after being chased through a west London estate in daylight on April 11 last year.
Two 17-year-olds defendants were cleared following an Old Bailey trial last October. Around the same time, Mr Westwood posted a music video he had recorded with a rap gang when they boasted that the victim ‘got splashed and I don’t feel sorry for his mum’.
The victim’s mother, Fawziya Ahmed, said: ‘This is hurtful. I can’t believe someone would say that.’
It is no longer on TimWestwoodTV, but the song, Pray For The Pagans, is still on YouTube.
The victim’s sister, Muna Tarabi, added: ‘How have these boys been allowed to go on with Tim Westwood, who is promoting them on his TV channel? It’s wrong. It is glamorising knife crime. They are actively celebrating it in this video and there is nothing we can do.’
Mr Westwood was hurt in a shooting in 1999 after a dispute with a south London gang that was trying to extort money from him.
A spokesman for the DJ, whose late father William was the Anglican Bishop of Peterborough, said he was unavailable to comment.
But Mr Westwood’s spokesman has previously said: ‘TimWestwoodTV gives up-and-coming artists a platform to be heard by a wider audience. The YouTube channel provides a non-profit outlet for young artists to express their talent and help provide them with an opportunity to get into the music industry.’
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