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Drill is a subgenre of hip hop music that originated in
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Chicago
streets in the early 2010s. It is sonically similar to the
trap music Trap is a subgenre of hip hop music that originated in the Southern United States The Southern United States (sometimes Dixie, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, the Southland, or simply the South) is a geograph ...
subgenre and lyrically similar to the
gangsta rap Gangsta rap or gangster rap, initially called reality rap, emerged in the mid- to late 1980s as a controversial hip-hop subgenre whose lyrics assert the culture and values typical of American street gangs and street hustlers. Many gangsta rappe ...
subgenre. Drill music progressed into the American mainstream circa 2012 following the success of rappers like
Chief Keef Keith Farrelle Cozart (born August 15, 1995), better known by his stage name Chief Keef, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. His music first became popular during his teen years in the early 2010s among high school s ...
,
Lil Durk Durk Derrick Banks (born October 19, 1992), known professionally as Lil Durk, is an American rapper and singer. He is the lead member and founder of the collective and record label Only the Family (OTF). Durk garnered a cult following with the ...
,
Lil Reese Tavares Lamont Taylor (born January 6, 1993), known professionally as Lil Reese, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of ...
,
Fredo Santana Derrick Coleman (July 4, 1990 – January 19, 2018), known professionally as Fredo Santana, was an American rapper. The older cousin of Chicago rapper Chief Keef Keith Farrelle Cozart (born August 15, 1995), better known by his stage nam ...
,
G Herbo Herbert Randall Wright III (born October 8, 1995), better known by his stage name G Herbo (formerly Lil Herb), is an American rapper from Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = ...
,
Lil Bibby Brandon George Dickinson (born July 18, 1994), better known by his stage name Lil Bibby, is an American rapper and record executive. Beginning his career in 2011, Bibby released his debut mixtape in 2013, titled ''Free Crack''. After signing wit ...

Lil Bibby
, and
King Louie King Louie is a fictional character introduced in Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American animator, film producer and entrepreneur. A pioneer of the Modern animation in the United States, Am ...
who had many local fans and a significant internet presence alongside producer
Young Chop Tyree Lamar Pittman (born November 14, 1993), better known by his stage name A stage name is a pseudonym A pseudonym (; ) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their or ...
. Media attention and the signing of drill musicians to
major labels A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark of Sound recording and reproduction, music recordings and Music video, music videos, or the company that owns it. Sometimes, a record label is also a Music publisher (popular music), pub ...
followed. Artists within the genre have been noted for their style of lyricism and association with
crime in Chicago In Chicago, crime has been tracked by the Chicago Police Department's Bureau of Records since the beginning of the 20th century. The city's overall crime rate, especially the violent crime rate, is higher than the US average. Chicago was responsi ...
. A regional subgenre
UK drill UK drill is a subgenre of drill music Drill is a subgenre of hip hop music that originated in Chicago streets in the early 2010s. It is sonically similar to the trap music subgenre and lyrically similar to the gangsta rap subgenre. Drill mus ...
emerged in
London London is the capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with a population of just under 9 million. It stands on the River Thames in south-east England at the head of a estuary dow ...

London
particularly in the district of
Brixton Brixton is a district in south London South London is the southern part of London, England, south of the River Thames. The region consists of the Districts of England, boroughs, in whole or in part, of London Borough of Bexley, Bexley, Lond ...
, beginning in 2012. UK drill rose to prominence by mid-2012 and has influenced other regional scenes, such as Australian, Spanish, Irish, Dutch, and
Brooklyn drill Brooklyn drill is a regional subgenre of drill music, centered in Brooklyn Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Kings County is t ...
(re-introduced to Brooklyn in the late 2010s).


Characteristics

The lyrics of drill tend to be violent and gritty. ''
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The Guardian
''s Lucy Stehlik said "nihilistic drill reflects real life where its squeaky-clean hip-hop counterparts have failed." Drill lyrics strongly contrast with the subject matter of earlier Chicago rappers and contemporary mainstream hip hop which at the time of drill's emergence tended to glorify and celebrate a rise to wealth. Drill lyrics typically reflect life on the streets, and tend to be gritty, violent, realistic and nihilistic. Drill rappers use a grim, deadpan delivery, often filtered through
Auto-Tune Auto-Tune (or autotune) is an audio processor introduced in 1996 by American company Antares Audio Technologies. Auto-Tune uses a proprietary device to measure and alter pitch in vocal and instrumental music recording and performances. Auto-T ...
, influenced by the "stoned, aimless warbling of
Soulja Boy DeAndre Cortez Way (born July 28, 1990), known professionally as Soulja Boy (formerly Soulja Boy Tell 'Em), is an American rapper and record producer. He rose to prominence, after his self published debut single "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" peake ...

Soulja Boy
(one of the earliest non-local Keef collaborators) and
Lil Wayne Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. (born September 27, 1982), known professionally as Lil Wayne, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record executive. His career began in 1995, at the age of 12, when he was signed by rapper Birdman (rapper), ...

Lil Wayne
before him." Atlanta-based rappers
Gucci Mane Radric Delantic Davis (born February 12, 1980), known professionally as Gucci Mane, is an American rapper and record executive. He helped pioneer the Hip hop music, hip hop subgenre of Trap music (hip hop), trap music alongside fellow Atlanta- ...
and
Waka Flocka Flame Juaquin James Malphurs (born May 31, 1986), known professionally as Waka Flocka Flame, is an American rapper. Signing to 1017 Brick Squad and Warner Bros. Records in 2009, he became a mainstream artist with the release of his Single (music), si ...
were important influences on the drill scene. Though it bears many similarities to trap music the speed of a drill beat is generally slower with a moderate tempo having about 60 to 70 beats per minute. Some producers work at double tempo such as 120 to 140 beats per minute. Drillers tend to be young; many prominent musicians in the scene started getting attention while still in their teens. One of the genre's most prominent musicians, Chief Keef, was 16 when he signed a multi-million dollar record contract with
Interscope Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. Founded in late 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with ...
, and in an extreme example, Lil Wayne co-signed the 13-year-old driller Lil Mouse. Critics have noted drill rappers' lack of concern with metaphor or wordplay. Chief Keef said that his simplistic flow is a conscious stylistic choice: "I know what I'm doing. I mastered it. And I don't even really use metaphors or punchlines. 'Cause I don't have to. But I could. ... I think that's doing too much. I'd rather just say what's going on right now. ... I don't really like metaphors or punchlines like that." Whet Moser wrote that Keef's songs are "lyrically, rhythmically, and emotionally diminished, which is why they sound so airless and claustrophobic ... It's not even fatalistic, because that would imply a self-consciousness, a moral consideration, that isn't there in the lyrics. It just is, over and over again." A profile on the scene in ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...

The New York Times
'' examined the genre's aggression:
With rare exception this music is unmediated and raw and without bright spots, focused on anger and violence. The instinct is to call this tough, unforgiving and concrete-hard music joyless, but in truth it's exuberant in its darkness. Most of its practitioners are young and coming into their creative own against a backdrop of outrageous violence in Chicago, particularly among young people—dozens of teenagers have been killed in Chicago this year—and often related to gangs. (There's a long history of overlap between Chicago’s gangs and Chicago’s rap.) That their music is a symphony of ill-tempered threats shouldn't be a surprise.
Stehlik called drill production style the "sonic cousin to skittish footwork, southern-fried hip-hop and the trigger-finger of trap."
Young Chop Tyree Lamar Pittman (born November 14, 1993), better known by his stage name A stage name is a pseudonym A pseudonym (; ) or alias () is a fictitious name that a person or group assumes for a particular purpose, which differs from their or ...
is frequently identified by critics as the genre's most characteristic producer. The sound of trap producer
Lex Luger Lawrence Wendell Pfohl (born June 2, 1958), better known by the ring name Lex Luger, is an American retired Professional wrestling, professional wrestler, bodybuilder, and football player. In 2011 he began working with WWE on its wellness policy ...
's music is a major influence on drill, and Young Chop identified Shawty Redd, , and
Zaytoven Xavier Lamar Dotson (born January 12, 1980), professionally known as Zaytoven, is an American trap music record producer, disc jockey, and keyboardist from Atlanta, Georgia. He has released collaborative projects with artists including Gucci Ma ...

Zaytoven
as important precursors to drill.


History

David Drake of ''
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'' said drill is not defined by any particular production style, but "is about the entirety of the culture: the lingo, the dances, the mentality, and the music, much of which originated in 'Dro City', a gang-defined territory of city blocks in the Woodlawn neighborhood." In street slang, "drill" means to fight or retaliate, and "can be used for anything from females getting dolled up to all out war in the streets." Dro City rapper Pac Man, considered the stylistic originator of the genre, is credited as the first to apply the term to the local hip hop music. Drake described the drill scene as a major vehicle of the early 2010s rise of Chicago hip hop, and described the scene as a
grassroots A grassroots movement is one that uses the people in a given district, region or community as the basis for a political or economic movement. Grassroots movements and organizations use collective action from the local level to effect change at t ...

grassroots
movement that had incubated in a closed, interlocking system: on the streets and through social media in a network of clubs and parties and amongst high schools. Drill developed on the South Side of Chicago, in the midst of escalating violence and a homicide crisis. Mark Guarino wrote for
Salon Salon may refer to: Common meanings * Beauty salon, a venue for cosmetic treatments * French term for a drawing room, an architectural space in a home * Salon (gathering), a meeting for learning or enjoyment Arts and entertainment * Salon (Pa ...
that the music grew during "a shift from historic feuding between monolithic crime organizations controlling thousands of members each to intrapersonal squabbling and retaliatory conflicts among smaller hybrid groups whose control extends just a few blocks... The toughened reality of living in these neighborhoods is what shaped Drill music." In the drill scene, rap conflict and gang conflict overlap, and many of the young rappers come from backgrounds with experience of violence. ''
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''s Sam Gould wrote that Chief Keef "represents both a scary strain of current hip hop culture and a seriously alienated group within American society."
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YouTube
was a platform for many drill rappers to release their music videos on, and ultimately significantly contributed to the genre's popularity. Chief Keef is considered the primary progenitor and popularizer of drill music, responsible for bringing it to the mainstream. In 2011 and 2012, he recorded multiple singles, including "Love Sosa", "I Dont Like" and "Bang", which became viral hits, and was subsequently offered a deal from
Interscope Records Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. Founded in late 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with ...

Interscope Records
. Around the same time,
King Louie King Louie is a fictional character introduced in Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American animator, film producer and entrepreneur. A pioneer of the Modern animation in the United States, Am ...
, another drill rapper, was given a record deal from
Epic Records Epic Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese Conglomerate (company), conglomerate Sony. The label was founded predominantly as ...

Epic Records
. By late 2012, rappers from other scenes and hip hop stars like
Kanye West Ye ( ; born Kanye Omari West ; June 8, 1977) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and fashion designer. Born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago, West gained recognition as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records in the ear ...

Kanye West
,
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and
Rick Ross William Leonard Roberts II (born January 28, 1976), known professionally as Rick Ross, is an American rapper. Prior to releasing his debut single, " Hustlin'", in 2006, Ross was the subject of a bidding war, receiving offers from Diddy's Ba ...

Rick Ross
were collaborating with drill musicians. Kanye West remixed " I Don't Like" for the 2012
GOOD Music GOOD Music (also known simply as GOOD, stylized as G.O.O.D. Music; a backronym for Getting Out Our Dreams) is an American record label founded by rapper Kanye West in 2004. The label signed an exclusive long-term worldwide label agreement with t ...
compilation '' Cruel Summer'' as "Don't Like", with features from West, Chief Keef,
Pusha T Terrence LeVarr Thornton (born May 13, 1977), better known by his stage name Pusha T, is an American rapper, songwriter and record executive. He rose to prominence as one-half of the hip hop duo Clipse, which was mainly active from 1994 to 201 ...

Pusha T
,
Big Sean Sean Michael Leonard Anderson (born March 25, 1988), known professionally as Big Sean, is an American rapper. Anderson began his music career in 2007 and gained popularity in 2010 with his third mixtape ''Finally Famous Vol. 3: Big''. He then si ...

Big Sean
and
Jadakiss Jason Terrance Phillips (born May 27, 1975), better known by his stage name Jadakiss, is an American rapper from Yonkers, New York. He began his career in the 1990s as a member of the rap trio The Lox, managed by Ruff Ryders and signed with Bad ...

Jadakiss
. West cited drill as an influence on his 2013 album '' Yeezus'', and Chief Keef and
King Louie King Louie is a fictional character introduced in Walt Disney Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901December 15, 1966) was an American animator, film producer and entrepreneur. A pioneer of the Modern animation in the United States, Am ...
had vocals featured on the album. Drill's subject matter strongly contrasts with that of earlier Chicago rappers such as ,
Lupe Fiasco Wasalu Muhammad Jaco (born February 16, 1982), better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco ( ), is an American rapper, singer, record producer, and entrepreneur. He rose to fame in 2006 following the success of his debut album, '' Lupe Fiasco's ...
, Psalm One, Rhymefest and . Older Chicago rappers have been mixed in their reaction to drill's popularity and violence. In a radio interview, rapper Lupe Fiasco said "Chief Keef scares me. Not him specifically, but just the culture that he represents ... The murder rate in Chicago is skyrocketing, and you see who's doing it and perpetrating it—they all look like Chief Keef." After Chief Keef threatened Fiasco on Twitter, Fiasco said he was considering quitting the music scene. Rhymefest tweeted that drill is "the theme music to murder." Chief Keef's debut album, " Finally Rich", released on
Interscope Records Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. Founded in late 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with ...

Interscope Records
in late 2012, was subsequently described as a "classic" album in the genre. Despite the warm critique, "Finally Rich" only sold 50 000 units and became a flop record which resulted in record labels subsequently losing interest in drill, deeming it a "fad". While drill music of Chicago fizzled out of mainstream popularity, a new scene was emerging in the UK and by the late-2010s was gaining mainstream popularity, spreading across Europe, influencing the creation of drill scenes around the continent.
UK drill UK drill is a subgenre of drill music Drill is a subgenre of hip hop music that originated in Chicago streets in the early 2010s. It is sonically similar to the trap music subgenre and lyrically similar to the gangsta rap subgenre. Drill mus ...
music evolved its own distinct style of production compared to Chicago drill with UK drill group 67 often credited for shifting the sound away from the Chicago influences it seemed to heavily draw inspiration from in its early days and foundation and for forming a more homegrown sound, with LD - a member of 67 - being named as the godfather of UK drill. The mid-2010s saw the emergence of Chicago-influenced
Brooklyn drill Brooklyn drill is a regional subgenre of drill music, centered in Brooklyn Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Kings County is t ...
artists such as
Bobby Shmurda Ackquille Jean Pollard (born August 4, 1994), known professionally as Bobby Shmurda, is an American rapper. Along with Rowdy Rebel, Shmurda is considered a pioneer of Brooklyn drill music. He rose to international fame in 2014 when his song "Hot ...
and
Rowdy Rebel Chad Marshall (born November 24, 1991), known professionally as Rowdy Rebel, is an American rapper from Brooklyn who is signed to GS9 and Epic Records. He is a member of the Brooklyn-based GS9 crew alongside rapper Bobby Shmurda. Rowdy Rebel appe ...
, while the late 2010s saw the emergence of new prominent drill artists from Brooklyn such as Pop Smoke,
Sheff G Michael Kyle Williams (born September 23, 1998), known professionally as Sheff G, is an American rapper from the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. He rose to fame with his single "No Suburban" in 2017 which was a response to the song "Subu ...

Sheff G
,
Fivio Foreign Maxie Lee Ryles III (born March 29, 1990), known by his stage name Fivio Foreign, is an American rapper from New York. He rose to fame in 2019 with his single "Big Drip", which spawned a remix with rappers Lil Baby and Quavo. He is signed to f ...
, Sleepy Hallow and
22Gz Jeffrey Mark Alexander (born November 29, 1997), known professionally as 22Gz ( ), is an American rapper credited as a pioneer of the Brooklyn drill scene. 22Gz released his first major mixtape, ''The Blixky Tape'', through Atlantic Records ...
. Later Brooklyn drill production is heavily influenced by UK drill (the latter of which brings production influences from
grime Grime may refer to: * Dirt, in the form of black, ingrained dust * Grime (music genre), a genre of music * Grime (album), ''Grime'' (album), a 2001 album by Iniquity * Grime (video game), ''Grime'' (video game), a 2021 Metroidvania video game * "G ...
and
UK garage UK garage, abbreviated as UKG, is a genre of electronic dance music which originated in England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and ...
) with artists such as Fivio Foreign, Sheff G, Smoove’L, Bizzy Banks, 22Gz, and Pop Smoke collaborating with UK drill producers such as 808Melo, Yamaica Productions, Yoz Beats, Tommyprime and AXL Beats. Pop Smoke's song " Welcome to the Party", produced by 808Melo was a prominent release in 2019 and saw remixes from
Nicki Minaj Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty (; born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Nicki Minaj ( ), is a Trinidadian-born rapper based in the United States. She is known for her musical versatility, animated Flow (rapping), flow in her rapping, alter e ...

Nicki Minaj
,
Meek Mill Robert Rihmeek Williams (born May 6, 1987), known professionally as Meek Mill, is an American rapper. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he embarked on his music career as a battle rapper, and later formed a short-lived rap group, ...
and British MC
Skepta Chieftain, Chief Joseph Olaitan Adenuga Jr. (born 19 September 1982), known professionally as Skepta, is a British-Nigerian Grime (music genre), grime MC (hip hop), MC, rapper and record producer. Alongside his younger brother Jme (musician), J ...

Skepta
. Sheff G's "No Suburban" (released in 2017) and 22Gz's "Suburban" (released in 2016) have been credited for bringing attention to later
Brooklyn drill Brooklyn drill is a regional subgenre of drill music, centered in Brooklyn Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Kings County is t ...
.


Controversy

In 2022, some connected the pro-gun content of the genre to real world gun violence on the streets of New York and other major cities, given the violence surrounding a number of drill artists like the late Tdott Woo, the late Pop Smoke, the late Chii Wvttz, and gun violence victim Nas Blixky. A shooting by alleged attempted murderer C Blu, who is signed to
Interscope Records Interscope Records is an American record label owned by Universal Music Group through its Interscope Geffen A&M Records, Interscope Geffen A&M imprint. Founded in late 1990 by Jimmy Iovine and Ted Field as a $20 million joint venture with ...

Interscope Records
, also gave rise to concerns, echoing the 1990s era gangsta rap controversy. In response to the epidemic of death arising out of the diss elements in the scene, in early 2022 a number of prominent New York DJs and music influencers, including DJ Drewski at ,
Joe Budden Joseph Anthony Budden II (born August 31, 1980) is an American media personality and former rapper. He first gained recognition as a rapper with his 2003 top 40 single "Pump It Up (Joe Budden song), Pump It Up" and as a member of the hip hop Su ...
,
Ebro Darden Ibrahim Jamil "Ebro" Darden (born March 17, 1975) is an American radio personality A radio personality (American English) or radio presenter (British English) is a person who has an on-air position in radio broadcasting. A radio personality wh ...
of " Ebro in the Morning" on , D Teck, and Power 105.1's DJ Gabe P either vowed to stop playing gang/ diss records or re-iterated their refusal to play such content. DJ Drewski told ''Complex'' that several young artists had told him they themselves did not want to include inflammatory disses in their drill work, being concerned about fueling neighborhood violence, but that such tracks were ultimately what got attention on
YouTube YouTube is a global online video sharing and social media platform headquartered in San Bruno, California. It was launched on February 14, 2005, by Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim. It is owned by Google, and is the second mo ...

YouTube
. On February 12, 2022, NYC mayor
Eric Adams Eric Leroy Adams (born September 1, 1960) is an American politician and retired police captain serving as the 110th Mayor of New York City, mayor of New York City since January 1, 2022. Adams was an officer in the New York City Transit Police ...

Eric Adams
staunchly criticized drill music arguing that it is instigating violence. Days later, he met with drill rappers in attempt to come to an agreement about the music.


Influence

UK drill UK drill is a subgenre of drill music Drill is a subgenre of hip hop music that originated in Chicago streets in the early 2010s. It is sonically similar to the trap music subgenre and lyrically similar to the gangsta rap subgenre. Drill mus ...
is a subgenre of drill music and
road rap British hip hop, also known as UK hip hop or UK rap, is a music genre, genre of music, and a culture that covers a variety of styles of hip hop music made in the United Kingdom. It is generally classified as one of a number of styles of urban mu ...
that originated in the South London district of
Brixton Brixton is a district in south London South London is the southern part of London, England, south of the River Thames. The region consists of the Districts of England, boroughs, in whole or in part, of London Borough of Bexley, Bexley, Lond ...
from 2012 onwards. Borrowing heavily from the style of
Chicago (''City in a Garden''); I Will , image_map = , map_caption = Interactive Map of Chicago , coordinates = , coordinates_footnotes = , subdivision_type = List of sovereign states, Count ...

Chicago
drill music, UK drill artists often rap about violent and hedonistic criminal lifestyles. Typically, those who create this style of music are affiliated with gangs or come from socioeconomically deprived neighborhoods where crime is a way of life for many. UK drill music is closely related to road rap, a British style of gangsta rap that became popular in the years prior to the existence of drill. Musically, UK drill often exhibits violent language and provocative lyrics.


References

{{Hip hop 2010s in American music 2010s in British music 2010s in Australian music 2010s in London
Drill music Drill is a subgenre of hip hop music that originated in Chicago streets in the early 2010s. It is sonically similar to the trap music subgenre and lyrically similar to the gangsta rap subgenre. Drill music progressed into the American mainstrea ...
Criticism of hip-hop Music of Chicago Music of New York City Music in London African-American music Hip hop genres Trap music