Book Spotlight: Ballad of the Bullet

Ballad of the Bullet: Gangs, Drill Music, and the Power of Online Infamy (Princeton University Press)

By Forrest Stuart CEF ’15

The Internet has provided a powerful tool for those looking for a way to build influence and profit. But what happens when digital natives born into poverty turn to social media as a way to try and make money?

In his second book, Forrest Stuart, follows a group of young men from Chicago’s South Side using platforms like YouTube and Instagram to share their original “drill music.” The Corner Boys “disseminate this competitive genre of hyperviolent, hyperlocal, DIY-style gangsta rap digitally.” The music generates downloads and likes that can translate to real-life money and benefits. But at what cost? While drillers can capitalize on urban images, many of them often wind up behind bars or in serious trouble after the public display of “superior criminality” over other gangs.

Dr. Stuart “blends classic ethnographic reporting on gangs and urban violence with cutting-edge observations of how actions in social media reverberate in real life,” said Eric Klinenberg of NYU in his review. “Ballad of the Bullet is the single best study we have on the interplay between the street and the screen, and an unforgettable account of culture and conflict in the 21st century city.”


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