An unanswered question is still looming over the music industry today, “How did this group of South Side Chicago youth garner fame and national media attention with uninventive and generic rap music?”
In this particular case, drill music’s success lies within simplicity and complexity, the simplicity being the generic nature of the lyrics, speaking to a broader audience, and the complexity being the uniqueness each artist and producer brings to the movement. From Young Chop instrumentals to Chief Keef vocals, Chicago’s latest musical phenomenon has taken the world by storm, and no one with any interest in modern day hip hop wants them to stop.
Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Lil Herb, Lil Bibby, they’ve all played a part in drill music’s national rise to prominence. Each young man, by using their own unique style, seems to depict the same thing in each and every song, their love of money, their loyalty to the streets, and their preference in women. Chief Keef’s hit single, “I Don’t Like”, gave the music scene their first taste of national publicity, and they’ve hardly looked back. Keef has already dropped his first studio album, and much to the disappointment of suburban parents throughout the country, Finally Rich experienced commercial success.
Lil Durk, Herb, and Bibby have each released nationally renowned mixtapes, with the first linking up with French Montana’s “Coke Boys” imprint, and the second recently collaborating with international superstar Nicki Minaj. Their success is somewhat unexpected, their style refreshing.
Each rapper possesses his own delivery of the lyrics that many people in America find terrifying. The lyrics depict what daily life in south side Chicago can really be like, which is more terrifying than the actual music itself. The scene brings a little bit of everything.
Chief Keef has released songs played in clubs throughout the world, Lil Durk uses his unique voice and slight use of auto tune to flow his words in a more melodic tempo, and Lil Herb is a poet in every sense of the word, using witty word play and proper annunciation in his raps. To gain national attention is impressive enough, but due to youthfulness in the genre, it’s hard to imagine that drill won’t get any bigger. Rap has only been introduced to drill’s new found popularity, and its takeover is inevitable.
Rags to riches, as cliche as it sounds, is an expression that perfectly describes the lives of Chicago’s young and successful musical talent. Two of the more mainstream artists, Lil Durk and Chief Keef, both hail from Englewood, arguably Chicago’s roughest neighborhood. The lifestyles of these two men growing up could not have been desirable, but it is that lifestyle that has propelled them into mainstream success.
Their route there is looked down upon by many, but that dissatisfaction with the music they make can be disputed by the fact that growing up in that environment causes them to use music as an outlet for their negative energy, which can be seen as truly remarkable.
The music they make is seen as violent and vulgar, but to truly understand the lyrics they portray, the critic would first have to live in the environment all rappers in the drill movement grew up in. To not like the music due to its style and delivery is one thing, but refusal to recognize the effort, originality, and art form acting as the driving force behind drill is narrow minded.
Diversity is the most appealing factor turning drill music into a mainstream staple in hip hop. Earlier stated, it has a little bit of everything so the masses can enjoy the movement. Chief Keef made his name off of hardcore instrumentals, violent lyrics, and a unique chop delivery that earned him a recording contract with Interscope Records.
As many people copied this style, the second artist finding his way into the national spotlight was Lil Durk, whose style completely differs Keef. Lil Durk “wooves” in his songs, meaning he sings and raps at the same time. He was signed by Def Jam and French Montana’s “Coke Boys” label, and his latest mixtape “Signed to the Streets” was ranked the eighth best mixtape of 2013 by the Rolling Stone. Both rappers have accumulated millions of views on YouTube and the recording contracts have guaranteed them the opportunity to achieve lifelong success.
For much of the rap community, their styles can become redundant and people will grow tired of their music sooner rather than later, a point I disagree with, but the argument should be respected. This is where Lil Herb resurrects the movement. His delivery is one of a true spitter. He raps in a more traditional manner and his verses vividly depict the life of an aspiring rapper whose gang ties make him the man he’s becoming.
His counterpart Lil Bibby raps in the same manner and both of their debut mixtapes were very well received and they are both, along with Lil Durk, seen as the leading artists for the future. Collaborations with major artists are paving the way for their commercial success and people can hardly wait to see what the trio have to offer in the future.
Drill is the most fascinating music movement the twenty first century has seen. Its background, ascension, diversity, durability, and future have not been mirrored by any other genre, debatable, but most would put their money on that statement. The lifestyles portrayed in the music sell, and the competition to get out of the violent neighborhoods in Chicago is stiff, and that competition is bringing the best out of the artists in the area.
Whenever progression is halted, a new artist with a new style enters the scene, reigniting the flame Chief Keef first lit. The future isn’t certain, but the development of drill music is a force to be reckoned with, and it seems as if the genre will loom over American music culture for some time.
Popular drill artists include: Chief Keef, Lil Durk, King Louie, Lil Herb, Lil Bibby, S.Dot, Lil Reese, Edai