Although drill music has become a popular subgenre of hip-hop, its success has generated enormous controversy. This was exemplified by a Thursday report that at least three drill music rappers were pulled from this weekend’s Rolling Loud festival in New York City.
The New York Times reported that reps for rappers Sha Ek, Ron Suno and 22Gz said the artists were removed from the hip-hop festival lineup at the request of police. No official announcement has been made regarding which performers would have been disinvited from the event, although a similar situation occurred in 2019 after the New York Police Department (NYPD) informed organizers that it wanted several artists removed from Rolling Loud’s lineup that year. 22Gz was among those removed in 2019, along with popular rappers Pop Smoke (who died in 2020), Casanova and Sheff G.
Drill music has also come under scrutiny from officials such as New York City Mayor Eric Adams and law enforcement in the UK, who have cracked down on online platforms sharing this type of music.
However, despite its appearance in the headlines, many people may not be too familiar with drill music.
Drill’s origins can be traced back to Chicago in the early 2010s. Lyrically, the hip-hop subgenre is most closely aligned with gangsta rap and frequently contains violent allusions. The musical accompaniment is similar to trap music, although often played at slower tempos.
In 2012, AllHipHop wrote that the term “drill” was first used in relation to the new musical style by the late Chicago rapper Pacman. The website said veteran Chicago hip-hop duo LEP Bogus Boyz explained that “drill” is a slang term “that can be used for everything from women getting dolled up to all-out war in the streets”.
Chief Keef and Lil Durk were among the first Chicago artists to break into the mainstream with major label deals. Kanye West was an early proponent of the exercise, saying it influenced his 2013 album Yeezuswhich featured vocals from Chief Keef.
Drilling quickly spread eastward, and rappers of the genre became popular in New York.
Brooklyn rappers Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel were the first to take notice in the city. Other borough artists who went on to find success include Sheff G, 22Gz and Fivio Foreign. Among the most famous Brooklyn drill rappers was Pop Smoke, who was murdered by a group of men in 2020.
Pop Smoke’s first posthumous studio album—Aim for the stars, aim for the moon—was produced by 50 Cent and spawned the top 10 single “For the Night”, featuring DaBaby and Lil Baby.
Despite the genre’s success, drill music became extremely controversial due to high-profile acts of violence like the murder of Pop Smoke, and many popular hip-hop DJs quit playing it.
Pleasemynews contacted the NYPD for comment regarding Rolling Loud.
Earlier this year, CHII drill rappers WVTTZ and TDott Woo were killed off within days of each other. Mayor Adams responded by condemning exercise music and linking it to gun violence.
“Violent people who use drill rap to post who they killed and then antagonize the people they’re going to kill, that’s the problem,” the mayor told reporters in February.
A few days later, however, Adams encountered a group of drill rappers. Subsequently, the parties involved described the meeting as a positive discussion about music and its relationship to violence in the city.
However, drill music didn’t just find an audience in the United States. Drill’s music has been shared online by artists in Russia, Spain and Australia.
In the UK, the exercise has become so popular that Amazon Prime will soon launch a six-part scripted series chronicling the scene in London. Entitled junglethe show begins on September 30.