Streaming has allowed the genre, sometimes sung by people with ties to the mafia, to become a national craze. Is a crackdown on violent lyrics necessary, or merely kneejerk censorship?

It is also alleged that part of his fortune comes from laundering money for the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia , made famous through its depiction in Roberto Saviano’s book Gomorrah and its TV adaptation. On 21 December, the Italian police confiscated goods from Colombo including an apartment, two cars and €80,000 (£66,000). In 2019, Colombo married the widow of a Camorra boss and he has reportedly been seen at parties thrown by the Camorra; prosecutors believe he has received dirty money from his wife’s clan and attempted to pass them as proceeds from his music career. He has always denied any involvement with organised crime.

It isn’t an isolated case. Neomelodica singers are often accused of colluding with the Camorra – sometimes by their actions, sometimes through their music. And, as the authorities circle around Colombo, the Italian parliament is also discussing a law criminalising the glorification of the mob that seems specifically drafted to target some neomelodici.

It somewhat mirrors other disputes across the globe. London drill rappers, for example, are censored by police fearful that their songs could instigate gang violence; Spanish rapper Pablo Hasel was arrested for glorifying terrorism and insulting the monarchy in his lyrics, while musicians led by Jay-Z argued this month for a change in New York law to mean lyrics cannot be used as criminal evidence. “These days, you go on TikTok and it’s all guns and money,” says Gianni Fiorellino, another popular neomelodici – who has no links to organised crime, but is dismayed at the idea his style could be censored. “I don’t see why that should be allowed and lyrics about organised crime should not.”

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