Andre Johnson is a 21-year-old from South London with a passion to impact his surroundings. A budding journalist, presenter and documentary maker Andre is an emerging talent in the media industry.
With two YouTube channels (Mr Mongomery / Afrochop) he recently released his first ever documentary on UK Drill Music, receiving 100k views in just one day. Exploring the genre’s origins and touch base with UK artist in the UK Andre connected the dots for an audience who either liked or disliked Drill music.
We sat down in Costa Coffee and had a chat about Drill music, the documentary making process and the advice he had for other young people.
What is Drill Music?
Drill is music is an emulation of US Drill music. It’s young people, predominately the demographic of back people, explaining or expressing their environment, or expressing what goes on in their communities. The majority of Drill music artists come from council estates or environments with less resources.
What’s your interest in Drill music?
I am Drill. Not because I listen to it, not because I’m necessarily a part of the lifestyle, I am Drill because I live in it. I’ve grown up seeing Drill, Drill is more than just music.
I’ve grown up in one of the toughest parts of London Angell Town estate Brixton and it’s a culture, Drill is everything in the environment I’m from.
What made you want to make this documentary?
The reason why I wanted to do the documentary is because there are black men cry out and don’t know how to get help so the only they cry out is though rapping about their environment on a track.
Sadik Khan said there are some songs on youtube that are glorifying gang culture and violence. I believed 50% of that statement and another 50% of me thought it’s not necessarily that.
Just because I rap about something it doesn’t necessarily mean I believe it. Some rappers make music not because they enjoy the lifestyle or enjoy what’s happening around them, they’re just telling you this is what’s going on in their world. This might seem violent or negative but all they are trying to do is to get you to understand this is what’s going on in my environment.
How did you get everyone to feature?
A lot of people ask me and assume that this was the hardest part of the documentary and to get all those groups to feature. But this was the easiest part of the documentary, getting all these groups to feature, everyone cooperated so well.
80% of the people I interviewed I actually knew before or I had some form of mutual link with.
What was the most difficult part of making the documentary?
If I had to say there was any difficult part I would have to say the production side. I personally knew the majority of the artists but my camera man didn’t. I had to make him socially aware of the environments he was going into.
We were trying to show the realities of these environments and the truth is it’s not fun or safe environment at times.
How many people in your production team?
Two. My producer, who is my best friend, and the camera man who’s his cousin. Because we knew each other work together was good it was very fluid.
If I said to myself I want to make a documentary, how do I go about that?
First of all you need to know what question you’re trying to answer. If someone is watching the documentary they need to have a question at the beginning and an answer at the end.
After that get a team of people, delegate roles and give yourself a deadline. Making a documentary is easier than you think you just need to have a plan and not deviate from that.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently in the process of making another documentary about producers. It’s called “A Producers World” and the question is why are producers unappreciated – so when we are done we will have a an answer to that.
And just being the face of journalism, changing the way information is present to people because we are in a new era everything now is quick and fast. I’m trying to change communication with young people and everyone
What advice would you give to young people?
Three words. You Are BROKE! There’s been times I’ve looked at my bank account and it’s made me revolted, times I’ve had -£5 in my account it’s all mad.
Maybe you’re not broke but you need to look at something that makes you angry and you need to be able to learn how to change that situation through what you want to do.
Find yourself, know who you are. What makes you happy, what’s your source of happiness because in life things are going to get repetitive, but you need to find that thing that’s gonna get you out of bed. Whether it’s your passion, your family or I don’t know jellof rice, find it!
Make sure you follow Andre on social media and check out his documentary on UK DRILL MUSIC.