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The Guide to UK Drill Music

From the early Peckham Boys era to Zone 2.

Peckham is one of the most legendary ends in London, and probably had the biggest impact on UK Rap music from the 2000s onwards. The history of the Peckham Boys goes back decades, and everything posted here barely scratches the surface of their history.

Context

The Peckham Boys gang originated in the estates of Peckham (SE15), in the borough of Southwark.

A large area of Peckham – between the town centre and Burgess Park – is dominated by council estates (public housing complexes). The main cluster is called the ‘Five Estates’ and consists of the North Peckham Estate, Gloucester Grove Estate, Willowbrook Estate, Camden Estate and Sumner Estate:

Nearby are the Goldsmith Estate, Bells Gardens Estate (Yellow Brick), Acorn Estate, Friary Estate, Ledbury Estate, Southampton Way Estate and several others. The Peckham ‘frontline’ is the area around Peckham High Street, including local landmarks like Peckham Pulse and the Crackerjack store.

The estates of Peckham were notorious and suffered from problems like underinvestment, deprivation, unemployment and crime. The area was termed ‘Vietnam’ due to the level of violence there, which is the origin of the hood nickname ‘Pecknarm’ (Peckham + Vietnam).

1990s

Evolution of the Peckham Boys

Originally, several of the major Peckham estates had their own individual sets: the Peckham Grove Boys, the North Peckham Boys, the Gloucester Boys, the Yellow Brick Massive, the Outlaws and the Acorn Boys. The earliest sets date back to the 1970s, and are the origins of the Peckham Boys gang.

By the 1990s those sets had evolved, and the two main sets in Peckham were the Firehouse Crew and the Younger Peckham Boys – also known as Pecky Man Soldiers. Other groups of Peckham included the yardie sets the Sunrise Crew and the Spanglers. Collectively these sets were known as the ‘Peckham Boys’ . There was sometimes friction between the Peckham sets but it was never deep, and they were united whenever opposition tried to slide on Peckham territory.

Alliances and rivalries

Peckham’s main war was with the Ghetto Boys, a gang headquartered in New Cross and controlling Lewisham borough. Their other major conflict was with Brixton. The decades-long Peckham v Ghetto and Peckham v Brixton conflicts were some of the longest and bloodiest gang wars that London has seen. Peckham’s main allies were Dulwich (Circle Crew) and Walworth (Wooly Road), and they often used to roll as one.

Legendary members

YPB/PMS members included the boss Mad XTipsyTimerSplashJokerTitchTimerRampageRageTempsTwitch and others. Firehouse Crew members included RhymerMixerMajorBeansBreakerPlayerSkipperFame and many others. Peckham yardies included the likes of KirkBigga and a bag of others. The Peckham-Circle linkup included names like Mad Danny and Big Lee, legends in both Peckham and Dulwich. It goes without saying that there’s many more names from that era of Peckham legends.

Early 2000s

In the early 2000s the Peckham Boys had consolidated as a single gang and its sets were structured by age. The most active sets by now were:

  • the Peckham Boys (PB) set – youngins of the PMS/Firehouse generation

  • their youngers, the Younger Peckham Boys (YPB) set

  • their youngers, the Younger Younger Peckham Boys (YYPB) set

Prominent PB members included KnucklesRaverX-FighterCrimerRockerGigglerBreakerGlamour and many others. Prominent YPB members included Killa KiDiamondTimmyTiny RyderYoung SnapMotionTaz and many others. Below are very brief examples of what went down in Peckham during this period.

Peckham nightclub shootings

Peckham had been notorious for gang violence for decades, and this reputation continued into 2000s. National headlines were made in July 2000 when up to 9 people were shot outside the Chicago’s nightclub on Peckham High Street:

Six months later, a man was shot dead in a double shooting outside the same nightclub:

The nightclub was shut down soon afterwards. Giggs refers to this nightclub in the 2007 track Greaziest Freestyle“Don’t think I’m coming here to rave if you see me ’round the back, big strap inside Chicagos”

Death of Damilola Taylor

Peckham made international headlines in November 2000 with the murder of Damilola Taylor, a 10-year old boy that lived on the North Peckham Estate. He was stabbed to death by two 16-year old brothers & members of the Untouchables, a small but old set within Peckham:

Nine days before Damilola’s murder, a 17-year old guy was also stabbed to death on the North Peckham Estate:

The schoolboy murder, plus the general level of gang activity in the area, put a hard media focus on the amount of senseless violence in Peckham:

2003 Peckham Civil War

Even though the Peckham Boys and Ghetto Boys were involved in a multi-generational war, there were some instances of Peckham and Ghetto members that fw each other. The most prominent example at that time was Spender from Peckham (a younger brother of Giggler) and Younger Kraver from Ghetto (a younger brother of Kraver) – they used to roll together and make money. That type of association was rare though, as the two gangs remained at war with each other.

In 2003 the first ‘civil war’ in Peckham kicked off because the Peckham Boys were divided over the presence of Mender. Mender was from Lewisham sides but defected from the Ghetto Boys and started rolling with Peckham. Some YPB members trusted him and some didn’t – claiming that he was still rolling with the Ghetto Boys and even robbed a Peckham member. This caused tension between Peckham members, including stabbings. In September 2003, Mender was stabbed to death while posted outside the Old Kent Road McDonald’s by some YPB members:

Death of Tipsy

Peckham legend Tipsy was released from prison after doing 3 years of a 10 year sentence for firearms offences. Soon afterwards in July 2004 he was rammed off his motorcycle by gunmen on Camberwell High Street, who then stood over him and gave him five headshots. His murder remains unsolved to this day:

Shootout in the financial district

In October 2004 the Urban Music Awards was held at the Barbican Centre. Peckham Boys and Ghetto Boys members were local and had a shootout outside the venue, in which 18 shots were fired. This was the first ever shootout within London’s ‘Square Mile’ financial district, one of the world’s financial centres:

2005

The Peckham Boys were also known as Black Gang due to the gang’s association with the colour black. From the mid-2000s, the main Peckham sets also began going by other aliases:

  • the Peckham Boys (PB) โ†’ Spare No 1 (SN1)

  • the Younger Peckham Boys (YPB) โ†’ Shoot Instant (SI)

  • the Younger Younger Peckham Boys (YYPB) โ†’ Pecknarm Young Gunners (PYG)

Giggs release from prison & first SN1 mixtape

In early 2005, SN1 member Giggler – now shortened to Giggs – was released from Brixton Prison after serving a couple years for firearm possession. He had dabbled in music in the past, but his jailtime made him determined to take music seriously. Not long afterwards, SN1 released their first project: the ‘Bloody Raw’ mixtape.

At this time Giggs took part in an SN1 block freestyle in Peckham for the Rap DVD. During the clip Giggs raps verses from the ‘Bloody Raw’ mixtape. The footage is famous for handguns being shown, and for Giggs not flinching when a handgun is fired:

In this era Giggs also released tracks on other people’s mixtapes, a couple examples:

At a time when Grime was the dominant sound of music on the streets, Giggs’s style was very different for its time.

Death of Ruthless

In August 2005, four YPB members aged between 14 and 16 – BertzTiny RyderTimmy and Diamond – stormed a christening on the Wood Dene Estate in order to rob the attendees (and pay back a debt to Big Larry, a Peckham older). During the robbery Bertz shot his gun in the air, and a ricochet bullet hit a woman in the head killing her:

A couple of weeks later, Bertz ambushed Ruthless (an 18-year old high ranking female in Peckham) and stabbed her to death for disrespecting him. Bertz was given a 30-year prison sentence for the two murders. Ryder, Timmy and Diamond were given indeterminate manslaughter sentences for the christening incident, and were deported after their sentences:

Ruthless was a loved person in Peckham. In this 2006 cameraphone footage you can see young Peckham members pay their respects at her grave. In early 2008, Giggs released the ‘Ruthless Freestyle‘ titled in her honour (but more on that track later).

2006

SN1 drop ‘The Beginning’ mixtape

In early 2006, Giggs and other SN1 members dropped the ‘SN1: The Beginning‘ mixtape. This is the first mixtape in which production was handled by their in-house production team at Unit 10 Studios. Their dark sound would go on to have a large impact on the future of UK Rap. A few classics:

Another classic SN1/Unit 10 track from the same period:

Hot September for Ghetto v Peckham

In September 2006, a group of up to 40 Shoot Instant (YPB) members went on a rideout to the Woodpecker Estate in New Cross – the main Ghetto Boys block. A brother of Ghetto members Smiley and Kraver ended up getting shot and stabbed to death. Another man was attacked in nearby Deptford but survived:

That murder on Woodpecker remains unsolved, as did five other murders on the Woodpecker Estate within the past 5 years at the time (5 unsolved murders in 5 years on a single block – when people say the 2000s in London was hot, they aren’t lying):

Ghetto v Peckham war causes Peckham schools to be evacuated

Later in September 2006, police received ‘specific intelligence’ that the Ghetto Boys would carry out drive-by shootings at Peckham schools at the end of the school day (in order to smoke YPB members as they left). Police decided to immediately evacuate Peckham Academy and Harris Girls Academy in the middle of the school day, before the plot could be carried out. The schools reopened in the following week:

Giggs drops the ‘Hollow Grind’ mixtape

In 2006, Giggs and brother Joe Grind dropped the ‘Hollow Grind‘ mixtape. This is the first of four collaborative mixtapes that Giggs dropped between 2006 and 2009. The mixtape includes several classics:

SN1 and OTB (Wooly Road) collaborated on the track ‘Up In The Shoobz’, and released a music video for the song. The video was shown on Channel U (a channel for underground music videos) but was blocked from the mainstream channels like MTV Base:

By this time, Giggs and the SN1 movement had a buzz in the streets of London. Giggs was trying to make moves in the music industry but he was blackballed by radio and television (thanks to the police) because of his gang ties/content. He refused to water-down his content in order to blow. Giggs released his frustration on Hollow Grind in ‘Fuck Da Industry’:

  • Audio: Giggs – F Da Industry | Track 11 – “Ima give it to ’em raw, so fuck the industry. They won’t let us in? We’ll be kicking in the door”

Peckham Boys acknowledged by Time Out Magazine

In November 2006, Time Out magazine named the Peckham Boys as one of the 100 most influential people or organisations in London: Time Out Magazine – London’s 100 top movers and shakers 2006

Time Out magazine is a major international publication, with a circulation of millions, so their inclusion of the Peckham Boys was a big deal. A good demonstration of how ‘big’ the Peckham Boys were, even in mainstream society.

2007

At this point, prominent members of Shoot Instant (YPB) included Snap CaponeKilla KiNuttieButchBlacksBilly Da KidTazProverTemCapo, Ross etc.

Prominent members of PYG (YYPB) included ShocksTiny BoostYoung SpendYoung LapJim JonesYoung KillaYoung Butch etc.

PYG members looked up to SI, and both sets looked up to the SN1 bosses. From 2007 onwards, SI and PYG started to become very active in music.

Deaths of Javarie Crighton and Michael Dosunmu

In February 2007, 21-year old Javarie Crighton and 15-year old Michael Dosunmu were murdered in internal Peckham dispute over money. Members of a group that had successfully pulled off bank robberies were arguing about the split of the proceeds. Michael Dosunmu was shot dead in his bed in a case of mistaken identity, the gunmen had meant to get his older brother (who they believe didn’t give them their fair share):

Giggs drops the ‘Hollowman Meetz Blade’ mixtape

In early 2007, Giggs dropped the ‘Hollowman Meetz Blade‘ mixtape in collaboration with Blade Brown. This mixtape continued to advance Giggs’ buzz in the streets, and included several classic UK gang/rap tracks. The mixtape is considered a classic in the UK scene:

Sidebar: ‘Hollow Meetz Blade’ and ‘Sink A Boat’ were referenced by 67 in their 2016 track ‘Lets Lurk‘: “Like Hollow Meetz Blade, manaman got guns that’ll sink down a boat”.

Peckham boss Raver jailed

In July 2007, Raver (SN1) was caught in possession of a Mac-10 submachine gun, 3 handguns, 2 silencers, 379 rounds of ammunition and thousands of pounds worth of drugs. Raver was a Peckham boss and very close to Giggs. Raver is referred to as “Carlton” in Giggs’ lyrics. He received a minimum 10-year sentence:

Young Spend jailed for shooting

In October 2007, 14-year old member Young Spend (PYG) shot a man in Peckham for disrespecting him. He was convicted of attempted murder the following year and jailed on an indeterminate sentence:

Young Spend appeared in one track in 2007 before being arrested:

New Cross shootout changes UK legal history

In October 2007 there was a shootout widely reported involve Ghetto Boys and Peckham Boys members. During the shootout, a Polish nurse was hit by a stray bullet and died:

The police caught Ghetto member Toner – one participant in the shootout – but they didn’t catch the person who actually fired the fatal shot. Toner did not snitch on the person he was having a shootout with. The Supreme Court of decided to convict Toner of murder as if he fired the fatal shot, even though he didn’t. In English law, this landmark ruling is known as Regina v Armel Gnango

At the same time in SE London, the Woolwich Boys shot dead a man in his car – because he answered “Peckham” when they asked him where he’s from:

In Greenwich Borough, Woolwich were beefing heavily with Thamesmead (allies of Peckham).

Shoot Instant & PYG drop the ‘Blackgang Broadway Vol.1’ mixtape

In 2007, Shoot Instant and their youngers PYG dropped their first project together: the ‘Blackgang Broadway Vol.1’ mixtape. With SN1 (Peckham bosses) making noise in the music game, this is the first time that their youngins made their mark. Two tracks from the mixtape:

Giggs drops the ‘Ard Bodied’ mixtape

In December 2007, Giggs (SN1) dropped the ‘Ard Bodied‘ mixtape in collaboration with Dubz. The mixtape included ‘Talking The Hardest’ and ‘Pain is the Essence’, which are considered all-time UK anthems, alongside multiple hood classics. A selection of classic Ard Bodied tracks:

Ard Bodied is generally considered the most influential mixtape to drop in the UK scene. It was the first time that UK ‘gang’ rap (Road Rap) broke into the mainstream, and marked the shift in general popularity from Grime to UK Rap:

  • Ed Sheeran tweet in June 2010“ard bodied, it’s emotional right now”

  • Chip tweet in May 2011“Sheeze! ARD BODIED was a moment for UK RAP!!!”

  • Skepta tweet in March 2012“Still… Till today, Giggs & Dubz’s #ArdBodied mixtape is a uk classic.”

  • Don Strapzy tweet in May 2012“Free Giggs. Listenin 2 Ard Bodied. I remember this tape shit inspired me to start Rappin. SN1 n dat whole movement der done a lot for UK Rap”

  • Megaman (So Solid Crew) tweet in November 2012“All day today i had ARD-BODIED mixtape pushing… GIGGs shut down UK quickly sssh #GameChanger

  • Burna Boy tweet in June 2014“Dubz/Giggs – Pain is the Essence. This is a song that saw me through the darkest nd hardest times of my life.”

  • Afro B tweet in February 2015“Giggs – talking the hardest will never die. He don’t even need to make another tune. UK Rap general”

It’s hard to underestimate the impact Ard Bodied had on the culture. It had youngins in every block wanting to rap that gang shit and rep their block through music. From this point, UK ‘gang’ rap (Road Rap) – the foundation of the UK Drill scene – started to take off in London.

2008

In 2008 the Shoot Instant set split into two branches:

  • The S.I. members based on the Aylesbury Estate (Snap Capone etc) remained as S.I

  • The S.I. members based in the Peckham blocks (Killa Ki etc) formed OPB

S.I. and OPB moved as two different sets within the Peckham Boys, but they were all still brothers.

End of the Peckham Boys v Ghetto Boys war

For a few years the Ghetto Boys had undergone major internal divisions, including the murder of leader Sparkz in 2006 by another Ghetto member. These events caused a big shift in the street politics of South London, with Lewisham dividing and fighting amongst itself.

By 2008 the decades-long beef between the Peckham Boys and Ghetto Boys was over. The end of the beef was publicly ‘announced’ by Giggs when he dropped the ‘Ruthless Freestyle’ in early 2008:

  • Video: Giggs – Ruthless Freestyle – “Ghetto v Peckham? I ain’t on that dead beef… so I holla at my motherfucking nigga Smiley”

That was a major moment in South London street history, with maybe the bloodiest gang war London has seen officially coming to a close. From that moment, it became safe to play Giggs’s music publicly in Lewisham ๐Ÿ˜‚

  • Young Adz (DBE) tweet in April 2012“When Giggs sed ‘Ghetto vs Peckham I aint on dat dead beef’ everybody in da hood starting banging Giggs in public lol”

  • Rapman tweet in November 2013“Ghetto v Peckham I aint on that dead beef”

Giggs drops the ‘Best of Giggs 2’ compilation mixtape

In early 2008, Giggs released the ‘Best of Giggs 2’ mixtape. The mixtape is a compilation of classic Giggs verses from 2005-2007, alongside some new releases. The last track is one of Giggs’ best freestyles:

Giggs is banned by police from Lil Wayne concert

The Metropolitan Police were determined to stop Giggs career in music. Despite being the hottest artist in the streets, venues weren’t allowed to book him, and television & radio were pressured not to play his music.

In early 2008, Lil Wayne was arguably the hottest rapper in the world, and in March he had a headline concert in London. Giggs was booked as the opening act for Lil Wayne, and the sold-out crowd were there to see Giggs as much as they were to see Wayne. At the last minute, the police blocked Giggs from performing. The crowd was so angry that they started moving unruly. Lil Wayne was hit with a bottle and stormed off stage, cancelling the show. This footage making shockwaves around the rap world:

Giggs then addressed these incidents by releasing the freestyle ‘Banned from Lil Wayne’:

SI, OPB and PYG drop the ‘Blackgang Broadway Vol.2’ mixtape

In 2008, SI/OPB and PYG continued making movements in music, releasing the ‘Blackgang Broadway Vol.2’ mixtape. The mixtape included the classic track ‘Gunshot Riddim’, which included 8 Bar verses from 10 different members:

Two other music videos were made for tracks on the project:

In the summer Shoot Instant members released classic music video filmed on their block (Aylesbury Estate):

Peckham ‘Gunshot Riddim’ v Brixton ‘Bullet Riddim’

With the war between Ghetto and Peckham over, the war between Brixton (OC/GAS) and Peckham (SI/PYG) started cracking in 2008.

That summer there were back-and-forth shootings between OC and SI members. In one incident, OC rode out on Walworth Road and caught Snap Capone (SI) and Butch (SI) slipping. Snap and Butch ran into the Costcutter store and OC shot at them from the outside, but ended up killing a civilian. That made big media headlines:

Not long afterwards, OC/GAS released a response track to SI/PYG – Gunshot Riddim in which OC members mocked Snap and Butch for running in the above incident: “remember what we flew in Wooly Road” … “had you running in the shop like you’re buying suttin” … “my dargs only run when they see the riot van” (etc): OC/GAS – Bullet Riddim

Gunshot Riddim v Bullet Riddim was the start of the back-and-forth diss music videos between Brixton (OC/GAS) and Peckham (SI/PYG). Cracking on the streets and over Youtube. As I stated before, this era was the origins of what we now call the UK Drill scene.

SN1 and Boomblast release ‘Welcome 2 Boomzville’ mixtape

In the run-up to Giggs’ debut album, SN1 released the ‘Welcome 2 Boomzville’ mixtape – entirely produced by SN1 producer Boomblast. The mixtape included various street classics:

SN1’s allies OTB (Wooly Road) released their first project: the ‘Woolyhood’ mixtape:

Giggs releases his debut album

On 4 August 2008, Giggs released his debut album ‘Walk In Da Park’ through his independent label SN1 Records. The album cemented the rise of Giggs within the UK scene after his run of mixtapes (Hollow Grind, Hollow Meets Blade & Ard Bodied) made him king in the streets.

Ghetto Boys and Peckham Boys linkup

In August 2008, Killa Ki (OPB) arranged the linkup of Peckham Boys and Ghetto Boys members for the Notting Hill Carnival. Up to 180 members from both gangs linked up and started making their way to the carnival, but the police stopped them before they could reach it:

Killa Ki addressed the Ghetto-Peckham linkup in the track Krept & Konan feat. SI (Killa Ki, Snap Capone, Nuttie) – Let Em Ave It“I organised Ghetto linking Narm, I made history. Darg I’m a boss in the Narm. It was a South East Link Up, anyhow we got Carni it would’ve been nuts”

The following video includes news reports and footage of the Ghetto-Peckham linkup:

Flying squad detain Peckham robbery members

It was previously mentioned that Javarie Crighton and Michael Dosunmu were murdered in 2007 during a dispute between members of the Peckham armed robbery team. In September 2008, the police arrested seven members of the gang, including the likes of Moaner.

Police suspected them of committing 120 robberies and called their criminal enterprise “prolific”. It took 150 police officers to conduct the raids on the Peckham Boys and arrest 7 members:

Giggs becomes first ever winner of the ‘Best International Act’ at the BET Awards

In Autumn, Giggs was nominated for as ‘Best International Act’ at the BET Hip hop Awards alongside grime artists Skepta, Chip and Ghetts (much more established/mainstream artists):

Fans voted for the winner and Giggs won, becoming the first ever artist to win the ‘Best International Act’. This was a big deal, because despite the police applying serious pressure to stop Giggs, he was still able to rise to the top. It was also another demonstration of the fall of Grime and the rise of UK Rap. Here’s a video of Tim Westwood congratulating Giggs for the win:

Even though Giggs won the BET Award, when he came back to the UK the pressure applied by the police intensified. In frustration, Giggs released the ‘Last Straw’ freestyle in which he directly dissed Ray Paul (BBC executive) and Jasmine Dotwala (MTV executive):

Death of Termz

In October 2008, 20-year old SN1 member Termz was shot dead as he left his house by Brixton olders. This further heated up the Brixton and Peckham beef at the time:

Termz made one music video before his death:

Younger PYG members start releasing music

In late 2008, the younger generation of PYG members started releasing music videos. The young members included Tiny SnapYoung SizeM1StigsCS and others. Most of the bars at this time were disses towards Brixton’s OC (now 410) and GAS (now 150/GBG):

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From 2009 onwards, the beef between Peckham (SI/PYG) and Brixton (OC/GAS) became the biggest story on roads and in the UK Rap scene. For the Brixton perspective, check The History of 410.

Part 1 is a demonstration of how Peckham gained the notorious reputation it has, and the environment that PYG and Zone 2 members grew up in. The next part covering the PYG and Zone 2 eras.


Author – u/KeezyLDN