- Drill Rapper Abra Cadabra Stars in Gritty British Drama ‘Trapping’ Depicting County Lines Drug Trafficking
- Film Shifts Focus from Glamorization to Reality of County Lines and Drug Addiction
- Bringing the Debate to Parliament: Tackling Youth Involvement in Gangs and Drug Trade
It only takes minutes for the scenes to become bleak: a filthy trap house, a drug addict injecting his scabbed feet, and a tiny infant crawling through the grime.
Trapping is a new British film starring MOBO-winning drill rapper Abra Cadabra and produced by grime pioneers and filmmakers Femi Oyeniran and Nicky “Slimting” Walker.
According to the Children’s Society, vulnerable adults and children as young as six are recruited to transport and distribute narcotics as part of the UK’s county lines problem. This will be discussed in parliament this evening.
While the glamorization of the drug-dealing lifestyle has long been criticized in depictions of drug dealing on film, this cannot be said of Trapping. Penny Woolcock, the film’s writer, and director, says that instead of focusing on “girls, money, and cars,” the film explores the world of “going county” and those on the frontlines, as well as the hopelessness of the addicts they feed.
Abra Cadabra, whose actual name is Aaron Philips and who was raised on the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, stated that he drew on his personal experiences to portray county lines gang leader Magic.
“It’s reality,” he stated. “This is what some children in London experience as they grow up. It’s important to demonstrate what’s happening… Several of my acquaintances have experienced a similar circumstance. It struck home.”
Louis Ede, who portrays the main character Daz, a young boy who wants to earn money to assist his struggling mother, is now 20 but was only 18 when production began.
“I learned many things I did not know previously. It was simple for me to portray the character because I was able to draw from my own past experiences. However, until I filmed the film, I had no idea how gritty that lifestyle is.”
This is not only a black issue, but also a white problem.
It’s a huge deal for the film’s stars and creators to bring the debate to parliament. Oyeniran and Abra Cadabra will participate in a panel alongside L’myah Sherae, campaigner and chief executive officer of Enact Equality; Ben Lindsay, author and activist and founder of Power The Fight; Amani Simpson, filmmaker and youth mentor; and Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham.
Statistics from the Children’s Society indicate that 46,000 children in England are believed to be involved in gangs, with 4,000 teenagers in London alone being exploited criminally. They are calling on the government to launch a creative grants program to aid young people in need.
They say the surge in school absences and child poverty has worsened the problem.
Oyeniran, who began his career starring in the cult classic Kidulthood and went on to produce films such as It’s A Lot, The Intent, and The 12, believes that broadening the debate is just as essential as the film itself.
“[Trapping] provides a holistic view of drug dealing,” he says. “Sometimes, when you view films about drugs, they are either a critique of drug use or about drug traffickers. This exposes the truth, humanises drug users, and shows that it affects both working-class and middle-class people. In addition to being a black problem, it is also a white problem.”
Too often in the media, among politicians, and on film and television, the focus is on groups, he argues. “It’s titillating, the concept of a gang is terrifying, and all of that other nonsense. But let’s talk about the middle-class people that reside in counties that consume drugs… who are these drugs being sold to?”
Walker, his production partner, hopes the video will deter kids and teens from following the promoted lifestyle. “There is only one consequence for being a drug dealer: a lengthy prison sentence.” Or, you will perish.
“A film such as Trapping will reveal the darkness. To be the next Pablo Escobar is not a glamorous endeavor. It’s not showing you about the flashy clothing and all these things… it’s showing that you’re in this sh*tty, horrible flat, that it smells, and you’re around dirty people.”
This pertains to the protection of minors
Woolcock stated that she desired to create something genuine that vulnerable youth could relate to. Some children queue to sell narcotics because they believe it will be fun. Our goal was to demonstrate that this is the case.”
Woolcock urges members of parliament to address the issue. “Youth service has been slashed to tatters, and there is almost no youth provision. Poverty and inequality have increased, and these are the root causes of people’s desire to participate.
A neighbourhood child thinks they can only be a drug seller, footballer, or rapper.
Ms. Sherae states, “Politicians have a responsibility to resolve this issue.” “To protect future generations, they must do more and pass drug abuse prevention laws over zero-tolerance policies. When viewed as a matter of child protection, this is about protecting minors.”
The Trapping movie panel discussion takes place this evening, with the film’s release on The Drop on Friday. The Drop is a new streaming network celebrating minority and marginalised viewers and British independent and emerging talent.