“All I know is ‘drill drill drill!’ on my Pac’ shit.” You can find this on “52 Bars Pt. 2” by Lil Durk from the first installment of Signed to the Streets. If you were in high school during the rise of Chief Keef and Lil Durk, you appreciate everything that came after that. It was truly a time to be alive.
Drill music is today’s standard of what media critics of the 90’s refer to as “gangster rap.” It is the rawest recorded stories of tragedy amongst Black youth in the inner city of Chicago, Illinois. A beautiful city known as “the Windy City” has had a gang and organized crime problem since the days of Al Capone and prohibition. These stories would change the landscape of Hip-Hop and the world itself as the genre and its culture spread globally for generations to come to look back on and take note of one of the first music revolutions of the 21st century.
Chicago MCs, PacMan (“It’s a Drill”), and King Louie founded the sound where the content includes stories of violence, murder, gang beef, neighborhood rivalries, and revenge at the forefront in the early 2010s. Chicago’s in-house gang culture, which has cost the lives of many in the Black Disciples and Gangster Disciples gangs, introduced the world to an entirely different lifestyle that CNN had to spread awareness of.
Most of the artists in the Chicago Drill scene are gang-related and relaying the nature of neighborhood pride and brotherhood amongst the gritty corners of Chicago. The beats have hard-hitting snares, 808s, and booming bass.
Young Chop and Chief Keef would elevate the sound that led to a 16-year-old Chief Keef penning a deal with Interscope and pioneering the genre’s mainstream appeal. With the success of “I Don’t Like,” which got picked up for a remix with GOOD Music and Jadakiss, drill music was catapulted into the public lens and it just could not be ignored.
The Chicago sound would later transcend to the UK as UK Drill became the UK version of stories told in Chicago. As prevalent as smoking on an opp pack and shooting 30s like Curry is in Chicago Drill, you most certainly can find these same elements in UK drill.
We went from the saga of Southside Chicago to South London. Carns Hill and MKthePlug are the producers that pushed the sound. South London’s 67 and 150’s rivalry, like Chicago’s Black Disciple and Gangster Disciple rivalry, became part of pioneering UK drill.
Drill would be further popularized in Brooklyn. Artists such as Pop Smoke (RIP), Fivio Foreign, and 22Gz, brought Brooklyn in the circle of Drill with a NY spin to it that reinvented the Brooklyn rap scene.
The Drill movement that PacMan and King Louie opened the world to clearly has moved beyond the borders of Chicago. Italian Drill has been the newest sensation that has been going viral on Twitter. Vale Pain’s “Louboutin” has surfaced on the timeline shocking the world with just how far the genre has come since launching from the 300 block on Chicago’s southside.
Makes you wonder just how deep the influence is and how much longer will it keep expanding. Thank you Chicago for turning the mic on and drilling the industry.