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Music Trends: UK Drill Origins & Evolution

UK Drill Music Evolution

To understand Drill as a pop culture phenomenon of the present, one has to look ten years into the past and (as so often) to Atlanta Trap. It is the beginning of what can now be called the Trap era of Hip-Hop when most of your favorite US rappers listened to Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame. Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka are at least pioneers of what will be defined as a drill one or two years later in Chicago in terms of the musical on the one hand and the artistic output on the other.

Drill, Drill Music or Drill Rap is a sub-genre of Trap and Rap, the origins of which can be dated back to the early 2010s in Chicago. A little later in England, especially London, a scene called the UK Drill formed. It draws its influences from the Chicago drill and the British grime. Well-known representatives of the scene are 67, 1011, Zone2, the Harlem Spartans, Moscow17, CGM, OFB, and Young Dizz.

In UK Drill there is also a strong association with gang crime and a high proportion of underage artists, as well as clearly expressed identification with districts or territories. Despite some similarities with the Chicago Drill, there are also differences: There are hardly any weapons presented in the music videos and the texts are focused on stabbing, not firearms. This can potentially be explained by the different legal situations in both countries. The protagonists are often masked and the focus is not on individuals, but on the collective, the gang, whose name is appended to the name of the individual rapper in brackets.

Chicago and UK Drill each have their own distinctive sound. What is striking is the shared socio-cultural background, which, as it were, separates drill from other genres of violence-associated rap: in Chicago and London, drill is strongly linked to active gang crime and territorial power struggles. Politicians blame Drill Music because of its lyrics glorifying violence. Drill music is actually a way for young people to say: Hey, we’re pretty dirty here. And that is the real problem that politicians should tackle: give young people a perspective – instead of blaming a musical genre.

As expected, behind all these new artists on the Drill stage are music producers like Mazza, Ras, LA Beats, Quiet Pack which have quickly adapted their arsenal of 808s drums, sonics hi-hats, crispy snares, hard kicks, and deep basses to bring to light all the shortcomings and illegalities from the streets.

UK Drill is influenced by other musical genres so you can hear even echoes from house music, techno, and tribal percussion can be heard underneath and between the drums and bass sounds. Ambient hums, machine whirring, and woodblock knocks appear throughout productions; a general feeling, of rave culture, lurks.


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