Drill Music

By: Maya Reynolds & Olivia Bruce 

What is Drill Music?

Drill music originated in early 2010’s in Chicago. Artist Chief Keef is known as the “God Father” of drill music because he was one of the artist to help put drill out there with the song “I Don’t Like”. The song gained so much attention that Kanye west decided to do a remix of the song with Chief Keef. Drill sound is comprised of three main components flow, lyrics, and production. 


3 Components


Chicago drill artists tend to deliver their lyrics in a deadpan, almost monotone vocal style that evokes the emotionally draining atmosphere of their environment. The influence of trap music is echoed in the frequent use of auto-tune to lend a cold, emotionless quality to drill artists’ rapping. However, both UK drill and especially Brooklyn drill avoid auto-tune and favor more expressive deliveries. 


The first wave of Chicago drill music was notable for its lyrics’ violent content and the bare-bones quality of its language. Artist dropped metaphors and clever wordplay in favor of a style that resembled unemotional reportage or recollection, which underscored the song’s often ominous subject matter. Newer Chicago drill artists have expanded the subgenre’s lyrical focus, while both UK and Brooklyn drill have always embraced a broader songwriting palette. 


Chicago drill producers like Young Chop, who oversaw many of Chief Keef’s hits, followed a template similar to trap music:  heavy use of the 808 drum machine beats (typically 60 to 70 beats per minute, or BPM), stripped-down production, and an emphasis on ear catching melodies embellished with brooding menace. UK drill artists like Headie One, employ faster beats and a greater focus on melody, while Brooklyn drill is distinguished by booming delivery and warmer production. 

Drill Music Family Tree

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