Drill rap radio is an alternative to mainstream hip-hop stations that plays tracks from rappers associated with the growing subgenre. Often, drill music features dark lyrics that discuss street violence, drug dealing, and gang culture. Its popularity has spurred controversy, as critics claim it glorifies violence and perpetuates negative stereotypes about urban communities. But supporters of the genre argue that it provides a platform for young artists to tell their own stories and bring light to their neighborhoods.
The origins of drill rap lie in the violent streets of Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. In the early 2010s, teenager rappers like Chief Keef led a burgeoning scene characterized by aggressive beats and a heavy use of trap-style percussion. The young rappers associated with the movement told grim stories of a city struggling to deal with poverty and violence that pervaded its inner-city neighborhoods.
Producers like AXL Beats helped propel the style by adding a new sound to the beats that rappers used for their lyrics. Instead of the typical Chicago drill sound, which features a throbbing bass and drums, AXL’s productions infused the beat with woozy, gliding bass lines. This was a fresh take on the sound, and it remade drill music into a Brooklyn-centric sound that became more melodic than its predecessors.
While many producers continue to work with the original Chicago style, other rappers and artists have taken on a more distinct Brooklyn flavor. These artists, including Fivio Foreign, Sheff G, 22Gz, and Smoove’L, have a clear understanding of their roles as torchbearers for the sound. Their breakout hits and major-label bidding wars have brought the sound to a wider audience than ever before.
In February, they all joined forces for a show at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre that was promoted as a “Brooklyn Drill Show.” Despite the fact that the headliner, Pop Smoke, was shot and killed shortly before the event, it was a huge success and gave the young rappers the exposure they needed to push their careers forward. Victor says that the night also gave him a chance to see how powerful their music could be on its own.
As a result, the upcoming Brooklyn drill generation is poised to make a big impact on the music world. But the biggest change might come from outside the Brooklyn area, as other cities and regions begin to adopt their sound. This trend is already happening in the United Kingdom, where a similar style known as U.K. drill is gaining popularity, with rappers and producers alike drawing inspiration from the style. drill rap radio