The specific niche in hip hop, otherwise labeled as Drill Music, has often been recently linked with gang violence and criticism from various figures in music who claim it as a weapon of violence which led to the deaths of multiple notable individuals in music recently with TDott Woo. While I think their concerns are genuine, it might be a bit misguided since beef and death have followed several music genres since the 60s.
The difference between the Drill niche now and, say, the west coast – east coast beef of the 90s between Tupac and Biggie is social media propagating the agenda of beef. I’ll paraphrase a quote rising star emcee of the Bronx B-Lovee recently stated, which holds true, “music doesn’t make you go out and kill someone, it’s just music.” Flavor with TMZ also made claims that Drill music, as in any form of music, helped take black people out of poverty and away from the violence, which is also true.
Now here, does social media play into this? The part of access. Here’s an example, say if a rapper blows up off a drill sampled single in a week, and they post a video of themselves in an area wealthier then where they’re from. Now, what if the comments have individuals from their neighborhood trying to incite beef? What if that provoked the artist to come home and end up a shooting victim? While yes, the main concerns of gang-related hits and personal shots at different neighborhoods have been in Drill, as in every niche of modern hip hop. I’m not saying that it is not an issue, but that issue has been around for years, if not decades, so why now bring it to the surface without plausible situations?
Every single genre of music has had issues, not just the drill niche of hip hop. Rock has been and is still affiliated with “devil worship,” questionable lyrics that also incite violence and rape for decades. We have seen pop stars in domestic case disputes since the dawn of time, and Country music has been criticized for encouraging alcohol abuse along with drug use, so since music is a form of entertainment, it’s naturally going to come with issues. This is nothing new but instead of always looking at it from a negative aspect, look at all the positive ways music has uplifted and nurtured people into being better versions of themselves. While Drill music itself has roots stemming from gang-affiliated ties back from where it started in the UK and popularized by the likes of Chief Keef in Chicago before hitting New York in full force, it has still provided a launching pad for successful, mostly non-controversial careers of several artists in music.
Recent comments came up from NYC DJ and socialite Drewski where he is looking for more creativity from drill music which is understandable. However, as a seasoned media veteran and a figure that the young rappers not only look up to but respect, I think he should’ve given various examples of how they used drill music to give more perspective to his point of view. This inspired me to write this and hopefully offer not only inspiration for artists to procure their music more diverse but also allows the world to see that Drill music is more than just violence.
Drewski named Pop Smoke and CJ are artists who have garnered national success for being more creative with their style of Drill, which to a certain extent is absolutely true. However, that is also a partially misconstrued argument for multiple reasons. First, as much as we all have love and admiration for the story Pop Smoke shared with the world when he was alive, he is still dead. He isn’t dead specifically due to Drill music but for other reasons, which I won’t explain. He never made drill music for radio fame; it just happened naturally. Thus, it has been propagated as a tool for label executives to call for “creativity” from artists who curate Drill music. Pop Smoke Inspired a majority of Drill artists, if not almost all of New York’s newer artists, unintentionally to pursue a craft of artistry that takes you away from the streets.
Second, CJ was still associated with beef in New York and wasn’t respected for various reasons, which I won’t get too deeply into because that’s already been discussed. The real issue is the lack of highlight on the positive and more quieter success stories of several artists who have made Drill music that I find disrespectful that they don’t get more praise, such as Sleepy Hallow, Lil Tjay, Rah Swish, Lola Brooke, Bobby Shmurda, Rowdy Rebel, and many more names whom only apparently get attention when they’re affiliated with only negativity. Regardless of how creative you get with music and how much of a national audience you get, you are still a target.
Sleepy himself has charted on Billboard and went platinum nearly off his own merits, but I nearly don’t hear enough about that. Gabe P. of On The Radar/Power 105.1 has procured a platform that has allowed Drill artists to come on and showcase a level of transparency that I encourage more New York creatives to create that can give artists who make more violent “drill” music. “Drill” music itself is not the reason for the crime; it’s the environment these young men and women come from. So, Fivio has a good point, again in my opinion, about Drill being stigmatized unfairly for circumstances that are deeper than music.
That being said and to conclude my piece, get in these streets, get to know the environment these artists come from to understand their pain, give highlight to everything good they do, not just the bad, and offer credible solutions which can showcase to them that they can live a long, healthy life while still being able to make music. It honestly feels lazy to use Drill music as a scapegoat for issues that have been going on before I was born. I’m 27, that should tell you something.
UPDATE: NYC Mayor Eric Adams in a press conference referenced Drill music, and taking action by having any portrayal of violence pulled from social media after his son brought it to his attention. This also comes on the hills of Brooklyn rapper Pop Smoke’s 2 year anniversary of his passing on February 19, 2020. Stay tuned as MusicXclusives plans on covering the state of drill music in a special segment airing soon!
Source: The Shade Room