Drill rap speak bluntly about drugs and violence in a rap style that lacks wordplay and clever metaphors. Their beats are slower than trap music and include classic sliding basslines that make NYC drill distinct from its UK forerunner.
Chicago rapper Chief Keef is the biggest star in the genre and was the first to bring it into the mainstream hip hop scene. His singles Love Sosa and I Don’t Like It helped him get record deals with major labels.
The “Godfather of Drill” is back with a banger titled “Tesla.” The track features a marriage of catchy hooks and impressive wordplay over clattering 808 drums.
While Chief Keef is often credited with bringing drill to the mainstream, King Louie is the true originator of the genre. He started rapping seriously at age 16 and draws on his experiences with gang violence in his lyrics. His mixtapes Love Sosa, I Don’t Like, and Bang became viral hits, propelling him to national fame.
Eventually, New York rappers like 22Gz and Sheff G flipped the script on drill rap by dropping diss tracks. These retaliation songs ignited rivalries between rap crews, sparking sprees of violence that ended in the deaths of artists like Tdott Woo and Pop Smoke.
Young Pappy is a Chicago rapper who got his start in drill rap, the subgenre of hip-hop that originated in Southside Chicago streets in the early ’10s. He is among the first generation of rappers influenced by pre-MAGA Kanye’s inclusive, pro-black content, spoken-word lyricism and experiential songwriting.
While the beats were reminiscent of the grimy, menacing Chicago drill style, Pappy incorporated a more pop-driven delivery and catchy melodies. This made his songs more palatable to a larger audience, and he soon became a rising star in his own right.
The New York Times reported that three New York-based rappers associated with the booming drill scene were removed from this weekend’s Rolling Loud NYC festival at the request of the NYPD. The trio included Bronx artists Sha Ek and Ron Suno and Brooklyn artist 22Gz. The NYPD criticized the subgenre for glorifying guns and violence and linking it to gang affiliations.
Fredo Santana was a fundamental member of Chicago’s drill scene alongside his cousin and co-founder of the movement, Chief Keef. He paved the way for rappers from the city’s south side with his raw portrayal of life in the hood.
His songs ran for up to seven minutes but never felt long or boring, as they were packed with multiple features. Moreover, his music had a creeping dread vibe that anchored it in the ominous.
Despite his death, Playboi Carti honoured the late rapper by dedicating his performance to him. In a recent concert, he rapped “Long Time” on the intro track of his Die Lit album while crouching down and wiping his tears. The tribute caught the attention of many, including Fredo’s family.
Eminem is still a force to be reckoned with in hip-hop. His rise in the early 2000s coincided with (and helped fuel) Hip-Hop’s mainstream takeover. And his obnoxious, peroxide-blond persona made him seem more crazy than most thought possible.
Drill rappers’ lyrics often reflect their life on the streets and can be gritty, violent and realistic or nihilistic. The style was popularized by Chicago rappers like Chief Keef and Lil Durk and Kanye West, who cited drill as an influence on his 2013 album Yeezus.
But the trend has not gone unnoticed by the local police department. The New York Times reports that NYPD asked Rolling Loud organizers to remove Bronx artists Sha Ek and Ron Suno as well as Brooklyn rapper 22Gz from this weekend’s lineup.
Originally from Chicago’s “Dro City” neighborhood, Tay-K brought a different style of drill music to the mainstream. His songs were raw and nihilistic, yet he still managed to attract a large audience. His sonic influences include OG Maco, Bricksquad and 300.
Hip-hop has long exposed the brutality of African-American communities to over-policing, poverty and mass incarceration. The early drill era was no exception. Rappers like Lil Jo Jo used their music to provoke rivals and elevate their status in gang-defined neighborhoods.
FBG Duck’s 2018 banger “Slide” showcased his ferocity and confident cadence. The song quickly became a Drill classic and was an instant hit in his hometown. Sadly, Duck was killed in 2020. His loss was a blow to the growing scene. However, he left behind a legacy that will inspire generations of rappers to come.