Retrospective: The Drill Music Scene

By @sonywuzhere

Introduction by @TrueGodImmortal 

For some years now, Chicago and their drill music scene have been popular and spawned a group of budding stars in the process. With DAR Midwest Week still going, it would be absolutely impossible to not discuss the drill scene. Without further adieu, let's just get right into it.

"Have you ever heard of No Limit, 3hunna, 6hunna, FollyBoyz, OBlock, Eastside/ where it ain't no conversation, they just let them heats ride?/" - Lil Herb on Common's The Neighborhood

Drill. This product of Chicago's Southside, and the violence which led to the Windy City being called 'Chiraq' by some, is now one of the most prominent subgenres in hip-hop.

It can be said that drill made its first big impact on modern rap with Chief Keef's release of Back From The Dead mixtape in March 2012.

Bang, released the previous year, had generated a lot of interest in the then-16-year-old, but BFTD, in particular the tracks "I Don't Like," "3Hunna," and "Sosa", threw Keef and drill music straight into the limelight.

"I Don't Like" would later be remixed by Kanye West for G.O.O.D. Music's Cruel Summer album.

Afterwards, Keef would sign to Interscope and release Finally Rich, but by no means was Keef the only drill artist in a breakout year. Lil Reese, featured on the original version of "I Don't Like," released Don't Like in July 2012, a 10 track mixtape regarded as a one of the best representations of drill music so far.

It also contained one of the genre's biggest tracks that year in "Us" and a personal favorite of mine, "Beef." Reese would later sign, along with Lil Durk, to Def Jam. King Louie, another emerging drill star, would sign to Epic.

After the success of 2012, drill began to be noticed more, listened to more, and of course, hip-hop began to judge. No concern for lyricism (it is argued that drill music is supposed to tell the Chiraq story as it is), repetitive production, and the timeless phrase "it's trash" were the main labels attached to drill by early 2013. Durk's breakout with the popular "Dis Ain't What U Want" and his Signed to the Streets mixtape didn't help much in terms of breaking those stereotypes. Fredo Santana's 2013 album Trappin' Ain't Dead, did not either. Even with Kendrick Lamar on "Jealous," but they were still solid releases.

Two releases, however, would change some negative opinions in late 2013-early 2014. Lil Bibby's Free Crack and Lil Herb's (a/k/a G Herbo) Welcome to Fazoland showcased drill production and, to the surprise of many, lyricism. Maybe not lyrics on a level which the "certain intelligence" community would embrace, but lyricism nonetheless.

Drill is now an established sub-genre of hip-hop, and while the hype of 2012-13 may have disappeared, its fanbase is still strong. And thanks to recent releases such as Herb's Ballin Like I'm Kobe mixtape, that fanbase is likely to grow more. It remains to be seen how much longer drill survives in today's trend-driven industry, but for now, Almighty Sosa and the rest of drill are here to stay.



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