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EXPLORING The rise of drill AND ITS CHICAGO ROOTS

With the sounds of UK Drill emerging as a global phenomenon at rapid pace, it’s easy to see its influence; artists like Drake and Kanye have done their take on the London sound. Though the genre is steeped in London culture, its origins start in Chicago. Drill was born in the south side of Chicago amidst an increasing homicide crisis.

Artists like Chief Keef, G Herbo, Young Chop and Lil Bibby grew the drill movement, gaining many local fans and internet presence. Drills characteristics have always been cold and dark, a reflection of societies that have to fend for themselves and are plagued with violence. From here it was communities in South London that could relate to the grittiness of the music and were heavily influenced by it. Drill has been funnelled through London’s unique cultural sounds, and UK producers put their own spin on the Chicago movement.

As the sound grew in popularity, it got the attention of American based artists, most notably Pop Smoke who worked with UK producer 808Melo to make his debut single ‘Welcome to the Party’. In recent years rappers from all over the world have released music that has been heavily influenced by UK Drill; El Patron in Spain, SKG in France, One Four from Australia and even Keith Ape in South Korea. The question is, why is such a young genre, so unmistakably London, become so internationally influential?

Rap in the UK started with heavily imitating American hip hop; grime came along and celebrated London culture and gained some international attention but never impacted the global musical landscape as noticeably as Drill has.

Due to drills subject matter, controversy is a natural bi- product, the question is, does Drill reflect violence in society or drive it? Many promising and talented artists have been victim to gang related murders and some question that the videos put on social media act as glorification of gang violence; New York mayor Eric Adams voiced that he wants to ban drill videos from social media.

The wider genre of hip-hop has always been questioned on this controversy and has never fully shaken it off; though former CEO of Def Jam Russell Simmons says “Hip-hop is a voice for voiceless people.” For better or for worse, UK Drill has given a voice to the youth around the world.

Words by Tim Andrews, Creative Design Lead, The Fitting Room

1 year ago