Drill (music genre)

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Drill music (usually drill, also referred to as the drill scene or drill-hop[1]) is a hip hop subgenre originating from young, South Side Chicago rappers and producers. The genre is one of the most prominent contemporary facets of Chicago hip hop. Drill is defined by its grim, violent lyrical content and trap-influenced beats.

After accruing a loyal following in Chicago, drill broke into the mainstream in mid-2012 with the success of rappers like Chief Keef, predicated on their strong local followings and Internet presence. A burst of media attention and a slew of major label signings to drill musicians followed. Chief Keef and other drill rappers attracted controversy for their graphic lyrical content, and the scene was spotlighted for its association with crime in Chicago.


Chief Keef's "Love Sosa", produced by Young Chop, is an example of the genre's dark, trap-inflected beats and grim vocal delivery.

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The lyrics of drill rap tend to focus on gritty daily life in Chicago. The Guardian's Lucy Stehlik said "nihilistic drill reflects real life where its squeaky-clean hip-hop counterparts have failed."[2] Drill lyrics strongly contrast with the subject matter of earlier Chicago rappers, which slanted toward conscious hip hop,[3] and contemporary mainstream hip hop, which at the time of drill's rise tends to glorify and celebrate a rise to wealth.[4] Drill lyrics typically reflect life on the streets, and tend to be gritty, violent, realistic and nihilistic. Drill rappers use a grim, deadpan delivery,[5] often filtered through Auto-Tune influenced by the "stoned, aimless warbling of Soulja Boy (one of the earliest non-local Keef collaborators) and Lil Wayne before him."[6] Atlanta-based rappers Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame were important influences on the drill scene.[7]

The age of drillers skews young; many prominent musicians in the scene started getting attention while still in their teens.[8] For instance, Chief Keef was 17 when he signed a multi-million dollar record contract with Interscope,[9] and in an extreme example Lil Wayne co-signed the 13-year-old driller Lil Mouse.[10] 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."[11] said Keef's songs are "lyrically, rhymically [sic], 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."[12] A profile on the scene in 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.[4]

Female artists have been represented in the scene since its origins.[13] Pitchfork's Miles Raymer said "instead of rapping about being a "hitta" — the local term for an ass-kicker — they rapped about being in love with hittas. Otherwise, they rode the same kind of icily sociopathic beats from the same producers as any other drill rappers, and came across as equally tough."[13] Female drillers mix themes of violence and love in their songs, and Katie Got Bandz said, "It's different because males wouldn't expect a female to rap about drilling. They used to females selling themselves."[14]

Stehlik called drill production style the "sonic cousin to skittish footwork, southern-fried hip-hop and the 808 trigger-finger of trap."[2] Young Chop is frequently identified by critics as the genre's most characteristic producer.[15][16][17] The sound of trap producer Lex Luger's music is a major influence on drill,[7][16][18] and Young Chop identified Shawty Redd, Drumma Boy and Zaytoven as important precursors to drill.[17]


David Drake of Complex 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 the Woodlawn neighborhood of Dro City."[19] "Drill" is a slang term that means to retaliate or fight, but "can be used for anything from females getting dolled up to all out war in the streets."[20] Dro City rapper Pacman, considered the stylistic originator of the genre, is credited as the first to apply the term to the local hip hop music.[19][20]

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 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."[7] Drill developed in South Side, Chicago, in the midst of escalating violence and a homicide crisis. Mark Guarino wrote for Salon 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."[21] In the drill scene, rap conflict and gang conflict overlap, and many of the young rappers come from backgrounds with experience of violence.[4][22] The Independent'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."[10]

By late 2012, rappers from other scenes and hip hop stars like Kanye West, Drake and Rick Ross were collaborating with drill musicians.[23]

Older Chicago rappers have been mixed in their reaction to drill's popularity and violence. In a radio interview, conscious hip hop 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."[3] After Chief Keef threatened Fiasco on Twitter, Fiasco said he was considering quitting the music scene.[3] Rhymefest tweeted that drill is "the theme music to murder."[24] Kanye West remixed "I Don't Like" for the 2012 GOOD Music compilation Cruel Summer as "Don't Like", with features from West, Chief Keef, Pusha T, Big Sean, and Jadakiss. West cited drill as an influence on his 2013 album Yeezus,[25] and Chief Keef and King L had vocals featured on the album.[26]

==Prominent musicians== 

| Title = essayant de comprendre de chef Keef et le chaos à Chicago | first = David | last = Drake | Auteur2 = Turner, David | Le magazine = Complex | date = 17 Septembre 2012 | accessdate = 23 Juin, 2013}} </ ref> * Lil Reese [30] * Pacman [31] * Poo Mack Cite error: A <ref> tag is missing the closing </ref> (see the help page).

  1. ^ Markman, Rob; Mangum, Ade (December 3, 2012), "King L Reigns Over Chicago's Drill Scene With Drilluminati", MTV.com, retrieved June 21, 2013 
  2. ^ a b c d Stehlik, Lucy (November 16, 2012), "Chief Keef takes Chicago's drill sound overground", The Guardian, retrieved June 21, 2013 
  3. ^ a b c DeRogatis, Jim (September 25, 2012). "The battle for the soul of Chicago hip hop". wbez.org. WBEZ. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Caramanica, Jon (October 4, 2012). "Chicago Hip-Hop’s Raw Burst of Change". The New York Times. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  5. ^ Drake, David (May 4, 2012). "Katie Got Bandz, "Ridin Round and We Drillin" MP3". The Fader. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  6. ^ Sargent, Jordan (May 4, 2012). "Lil Durk: Life Ain't No Joke". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c Drake, David (June 25, 2012). "Chicago Rap Blazes Up From the Streets". Spin. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c Sargent, Jordan (December 12, 2012), "Drum Majors: Four Producers to Watch: Paris Beuller", The Fader, retrieved June 23, 2013 
  9. ^ Markman, Rob (January 23, 2013). "Chief Keef's Interscope Deal Revealed To Be Worth $6 Million". MTV.com. MTV. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Gould, Sam (September 6, 2012). "Chief Keef, Chicago and violence in hip hop". The Independent. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  11. ^ Kramer, Kyle (April 28, 2012). "Exclusive interview: 16-year-old Chicago rapper Chief Keef". RedEye. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  12. ^ Moser, Whet (September 6, 2012). "Coming to Terms with Chief Keef". Chicago. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Raymer, Miles (February 13, 2013). "Sasha Go Hard: Round 3: The Knockout". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  14. ^ Schwartzberg, Lauren (May 2013). "Drill or Be Drilled". Dazed & Confused. Retrieved June 23, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "Hip-Hop in 2013… for Dummies (Part 2: The Producers)". Fact. April 19, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Battan, Carrie (December 28, 2012). "One Nation Under Drill". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Cho, Jaeki (February 7, 2013). "Young Chop Talks Lex Luger, Chief Keef, and Studio Habits". XXL. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  18. ^ Delerme, Felipe (August 21, 2012). "Chief Keef: Lost Boys". The Fader. Retrieved June 21, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b c Drake, David (December 17, 2012), "Chief Keef: Hail To The Chief (2012 Online Cover Story)", Complex, retrieved June 23, 2013 
  20. ^ a b Meara, Paul (August 23, 2012), "It's a Drill!: The Sound That Has Music Labels Flocking to the Windy City", AllHipHop, retrieved June 24, 2013 
  21. ^ Guarino, Mark (December 18, 2012), "Rap's killer new rhymes", Salon, retrieved June 23, 2013 
  22. ^ Cite error: The named reference complex_chaos was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  23. ^ Drake, David (October 12, 2012), "Industry or In These Streets: When Superstars Meet Chicago's New Rap Scene", Complex, retrieved June 23, 2013 
  24. ^ Galil, Leor (September 26, 2012), "Chief Keef: Chicago's most promising antihero", Chicago Reader, retrieved June 23, 2013 
  25. ^ Caramanica, Jon (June 11, 2013), "Behind Kanye's Mask", The New York Times, retrieved June 17, 2013 
  26. ^ Drake, David (June 12, 2013), "King Louie Guide", Complex, retrieved June 17, 2013 
  27. ^ "Lil Bibby Offers His Street Tales In 'Free Crack' Mixtape". XXL. Dec 9th, '13. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  28. ^ Eric Diep (Oct 23rd, '13). "The Break Presents: SD". http://www.xxlmag.com/rap-music/the-break/2013/10/the-break-presents-sd. XXL. 
  29. ^ Miles Raymer (Dec 3, 2012). "Katie Got Bandz Explains What it Means to Call A Fool an "Opp"". Vice. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  30. ^ Cite error: The named reference foret_pfork was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  31. ^ Cite error: The named reference Keef_complexe was invoked but never defined (see the help page).