What Is Drill Music? ( History & Music Artists )

This guide will explain what is Drill music, examples of Drill music, the history of the music genre, and popular Drill music artists.

  1. What Is Drill Music
  2. Examples Of Drill Music
  3. Who Started Drill Music
  4. Who Are Popular Drill Rappers
  5. Is Drill Considered Trap Music
  6. What Does Drill Music Stand For

What Is Drill Music?

Drill is a form of Trap Music, and the Drill music is characterized by violent and very gritty lyrics.

As per David Drake of Complex, Drill is not defined by any particular production style, but it is about the entirety of the culture: the terminology, the dances, the mentality, and music. A lot of which originated in Dro City, a gang territory of city blocks in the Woodlawn neighborhood.

What Is Drill Music
What Is Drill Music? ( Rappers, History, Music Artists )

Some of the characteristics that define Drill music are as follows:

#1. Flow

Drill artists of Chicago usually deliver their lyrics in a deadpan, almost monotone vocal style, and it evokes the emotionally draining atmosphere of their environment. The influence of Trap music is also echoed in the frequent use of auto-tune.

But it is important to note that both the UK Drill and especially the Brooklyn Drill avoid using auto-tune and prefer more expressive deliveries.

The Drill Rap Formula | How all Drill songs are made

#2. Lyrics

Chicago’s Drill music first wave was notable, mainly because of the violent content in its lyrics and bare bone quality in the language. The artists drop metaphors, and clever word plays in favor of a style that resembles unemotional reportage.

The newer Chicago Drill has expanded the lyrical focus of the sub-genre. On the other hand, the UK and the Brooklyn Drill have always embraced a broader songwriting palette.

#3. Music Production

The Chicago Drill producers, mainly like Young Chop, followed the template similar to Trap music:

  • Heavy use of the 808 drum machine beats
  • Stripped-down production
  • An emphasis on ear-catching melodies embellished with brooding menace

But the UK Drill artists like the Headie One employ:

  • Faster beats
  • Greater focus on melodies

On the other hand, the Brooklyn Drill is distinguished by:

  • Booming delivery
  • Warmer production

Note that drillers generally tend to be young. Many prominent rappers in the scene started getting attention even while still being in their teens.

For example, Chief Keef, one of the genre’s most prominent musicians, was only 16 when he signed a million-dollar record contract with Interscope.

Another extreme example can be given in the case of Lil Wayne co-signed a 13-year-old driller Lil Mouse.

Female artists have also been represented in the scene since its origin. The female drillers mix the themes of violence as well as love in their songs.

Related: What is Trap Music

What Are Some Examples Of Drill Music?

Here are some examples of Drill Music:

  • “Welcome to the Party” Pop Smoke.
  • “Know Better” Headie One and RV.
  • “Crazy Story” King Von.
  • “Big Drip” Fivio Foreign.
  • “Suburban” 22gz.
  • “No Suburban” Sheff G.
  • “Dior” Pop Smoke.
  • “New Apolos” Smoove’L.
Top 15 Best Drill Songs ( US, UK, Europe)

Who Started Drill Music?

The Dro City rapper Pac Man is credited as the first artist to reference “Drill”. His song became a template for future Drill music artists such as Chief Keef, whose 2012 single “I Don’t Like,” and a subsequent remix by Kanye West brought Drill music to national attention.

Drill music progressed into the American mainstream in mid-2012 following the success of rappers and music producers like Young Chop, Lil Durk, Chief Keef, King Louie, etc. They had many local fans and a significant Internet presence.

The Evolution Of Drill Music [In Depth]

Some of the popular Drill music artists are:

#1. Chief Keef

He is an American rapper and producer from Chicago, Illinois, and arguably the first superstar of Chicago Drill music. He scored a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart with 2012’s “I Don’t Like.”

He was just 16 when he signed a multi-million dollar record contract with Interscope Records. He is also the CEO of his label imprint, Glory Boyz Entertainment, later renamed Glo Gang.

Top 10 Drill Rappers!

#2. Lil Bibby

He is a young Drill artist from the East Side of Chicago. His style of Hip Hop, Drill, was made famous by Chief Keef, but critics often described him as being more “lyrical.”

He is a Chicago rapper and was cited on numerous media lists as a performer to watch almost immediately after the release of his 2013 mixtape.

In many of his songs, he claims ‘EBK’, which stands for ‘EveryBody Killer’. In 2017, he stepped away from performing to focus on running his record label.

#3. King Louie

He is an American hip-hop artist from Chicago, Illinois, USA. After his friend Pac-Man, Chicago rapper King Louie was one of the earliest proponents of Drill music. He has released several mixtapes, including Drilluminati, Jeep Music, Drilluminati 2, and Tony.

He was attributed by Spin Magazine as being one of the Chicago rappers who made Chicago the “hottest hip-hop” scene in 2012. In September 2007, he released his debut mixtape entitled Boss Sh*t.

His career was put on hold after being hit by a car, but later, he returned to the music industry, releasing a series of mixtapes that he made available online.

#4. Fredo Santana

He was an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois, and the older cousin of Chicago rapper Chief Keef. He was co-CEO of Chief Keef’s record label Glory Boyz Entertainment and his debut studio album Trappin’ Ain’t Dead was released on November 20, 2013.

He was generally known amongst fans for his Trap music and also for his facial tattoos, including the cross on his forehead.

#5. Pop Smoke

He was a rapper from Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York. His April 2019 single “Welcome To The Party,” which was boosted by support from A$AP Ferg, started getting him popularity. He also used a signature and distinguishable Drill-style rap in his music.

Is Drill Considered Trap Music?

Although there are similarities between Drill and Trap music, it can also be said that Drill is a subset of Trap music. But still, some differences separate the two.

Drill is a subgenre of hip hop that originates from Chicago, and it is led by Chief Keef, Lil Bibby, Lil Herb & King Louie. It emphasizes violence, material success, and daily life in Chicago.

Drill Music Vs. Trap Music

On the other hand, Trap music is also a subgenre of Hip Hop music, but it originates from Atlanta, Georgia. Led by rappers such as Gucci Mane, Young Jeezy, etc., Trap music mainly focuses on drug dealing, women, and material success.

What Does Drill Music Stand For?

In Chicago street slang, “Drill” means to fight or retaliate. It is a prominent part of Chicago Hip Hop, and the lyrics of Drill reflect life on the streets. The beats of Drill tend to be of a slow tempo and usually of 60 or 70 beats per minute.

Drill Music: Is It Right to Blame the Genre for Violence

Drawing from the vibrant world of UK drill music, young rappers from the South London district are expressing their own distinct style, striking an intriguing balance between gangsta rap and the term drill music.

UK drill producers, many of whom themselves are part of the younger generations, are shaping this rap style with ominous beats that echo the concrete-hard, music-joyless environment often depicted in drill lyrics.

Brooklyn and UK drill have found common ground in their music, yet they maintain unique characteristics that set them apart from Chicago’s rap scene, the birthplace of drill.

Despite the raw, sometimes grim narratives, many drill rappers have successfully garnered attention from the mainstream media, which has helped propel the genre onto a larger stage. Their music videos, often as gritty and real as their lyrics, have become a significant part of this ascent, attracting music influencers and audiences alike.

The influence of drill music is undeniable. Its journey from the streets of Chicago to the heart of South London, and its evolution from the ominous beats of the UK to the warmer tones of Brooklyn, reflect the genre’s adaptability and the passion of its artists.

This concrete hard music may be joyless at times, but its powerful narrative and unique style resonate with many, especially the younger generations. It’s a testament to the talent and resilience of these young artists that their music continues to impact and inspire, even in the face of adversity.

I hope you now have a better understanding of what Drill music is.

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Mark V.

Written By Mark V.

Mark Valenzuela is a professional blogger, entrepreneur, and educator with more than 15 years of experience in music production. In 2008, Mark founded Hip Hop Makers, a top resource for aspiring music producers and beatmakers. He specializes in content on music production, software, gear, and free music resources. Committed to empowering creators of all levels, Mark continues to inspire and help music creators pursue their dreams.

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