It all started back in 2012 in Chicago with producers DJ L, Smylez, and Young Chop. They began turning trap music beats into something new and original. To clarify, they started adding psychoacoustic elements to their instrumentals – church bells and muffled gunfire – as well as making distinct arrangement choices with organs and string stabs.
During subsequent years drill became popular on the Internet, and it quickly outgrew the Chicago borders. Producers from other parts of the world uploaded their own takes on the genre to YouTube and other streaming platforms. Drill’s sonic palette and proud localism resonated well with the London rap scene across the ocean. However, UK drill hasn’t become a simple copy-and-paste of its American counterpart: with influences from garage, grime, and road rap, the British version of street rap, it stands on its own. Sliding 808s, heavy bass, rattling drums, and various ambient noises like machine whirring are now genre’s trademarks.
Today, in 2020, drill is becoming more relevant than ever as more and more famous rappers take interest in the genre. Artists like Stormzy and Dave are releasing drill songs and even rap stars Travis Scott and Drake are dabbling in the genre. Let’s take a look at the hottest contemporary drill producers:
- Chris Rich Beats.
The producer from East London 808Melo became known for his collaboration with Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke. The products of their work include two biggest drill hits to date – ‘Dior’ and ‘Welcome to the Party’ with its hectic drum parts bolting from side to side. In this duo, a member of Trap House Mob collective Melo acts as a link between London sound and Brooklyn street lyricism.
Another East Londoner Ghosty is so productive that they say he doesn’t sleep at all. He got a Serato Mixtrack Pro for his twelfth birthday and used it to mix drum and bass and jungle music. It was not until his first rap trap instrumental which he made years later that he started developing his personal style. His beats on tracks like Digga D’s ‘No Diet’ and Chuks’ ‘Profit’ feature characteristic punchy kicks and enormous bass.
HARGO became known through his YouTube channel posting instrumentals mimicking popular artists' styles. This way he earned his early placements, for example, ‘Splash and Cash’ by Harlem Spartans. You can really hear HARGO’s professional growth when you compare this track to one of his latest works like Poundz’s ‘Opp Thot’, one of the biggest drill hits to date. With heavy bass, crispy drums, and guitar samples, it captures the gritty energy of drill.
Chris Rich Beats
While living in Cardiff and retaining a significant distance from London’s drill scene, a 17-year-old student definitely has a spiritual connection to it. Like many young producers, he started making trap beats, but soon his interests started to take a more concrete shape. His drill music instrumentals, like the one he made for a top-10 charting DigDat and Aitch’s song ‘Ei8ht Mile’, are full of elaborate details accompanying usual staples of the genre.