A Very Necessary Recap of Law & Order: SVU’s Bizarre Brooklyn Drill Episode

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Plus more highs and lows from the world of rap this week, including three highlights from Young Dolph’s catalog and a surprising new track from Manhattan underground stalwart YL.

A Very Necessary Recap of Law  Order SVUs Bizarre Brooklyn Drill Episode
 Ice-T on the set of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images. Graphic by Calum Abbott.

Pitchfork writer Alphonse Pierre’s rap column covers songs, mixtapes, albums, Instagram freestyles, memes, weird tweets, fashion trendsand anything else that catches his attention.

Law & Order: SVU is propagating dangerous rap stereotypes

Currently in its 23rd season, Law & Order: SVU is an essential part of producer Dick Wolf’s respect-the-uniform multiverse, a mostly mindless cop procedural made to be binged by people who are on a sick day from work. For a while now, they’ve been trying to inject more progressive conversations into the show, but they haven’t quite figured it out. This was made especially clear on last week’s episode “Nightmares in Drill City,” where the detectives piece together a crime using lyrics by made-up Brooklyn drill rappers.

The idea of the police and courts using a rapper’s lyrics against them is nothing new, and recent cases against Drakeo the Ruler, YoungBoy, and YNW Melly show it’s still a common practice. SVU follows this trend by flattening drill rap for dramatic effect, ignoring the idea that the genre, like most other types of art, often involves blurring the lines between reality and fiction. Taking every lyric at face value doesn’t make sense, but they don’t care.

“Nightmares in Drill City” opens with a white high school honor student named Tori hanging out with Gutta, a Brooklyn drill rapper looking to settle a beef. Gutta wants to rob rival rapper Milly2k because he apparently called out Gutta and his crew on a track by saying they’re “nobodies trying to be somebodies.” On the scale of drill disses, that is relatively minor. Gutta is pretty sensitive.

We get to see clips of Milly2k rapping. It’s not good, but I’m not sure the show knows that. He sounds like a worse version of 2019 Fivio Foreign, down to the “bow” ad-libs and stop-start flow. If Gutta were smarter, he just would have laid down a diss record of his own pointing out how shitty Milly2k is. I bet everyone would have agreed. But no, he would rather get himself implicated in a crime. It’s set up by Tori and goes wrong when Milly2k is killed by Gutta. Later, a frazzled Tori points the SVU detectives in the direction of Gutta’s popping YouTube channel.

Now Ice-T is on the case. (Side note: Does anybody actually know Ice-T’s character’s name? I petition that the show start calling him “Ice-T.” I doubt viewers would even notice.) “The music’s called drill. It’s made famous by Chief Keef out of Chicago. It spread everywhere,” Ice-T explains to the assistant district attorney, like he’s been binge-watching the Melz TV YouTube channel. In disgust, they watch Gutta’s videos together. They really hate it, and I can’t blame them. Gutta’s music might be worse than Milly2k’s, even though he’s also a 2019 Fivio Foreign ripoff.

(Why does everyone in Law & Order: SVU’s Brooklyn drill scene sound like Fivio? I have some theories: 1) Dick Wolf rides for Donda and ordered an episode be made about the dude on “Off the Grid,” 2) SVU takes place in an alternate universe where Earth is overrun by Fivio clones, or, most realistically, 3) Fivio’s flow was the easiest to recreate .)

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