Drill music developed in Chicago in the early 2010s, a subgenre of rap exemplified by extreme violence and topics of street life and gang warfare. Initially confined to Chicago, it has since taken a foothold in New York and London. These 35 drill songs show the appeal of this music around the world.
1. Hazards — Loski
It’s quite a compliment to inspire a major rapper like Drake, but British drill artist Loski can put that on his resume. Widely known for his work as a member of the Harlem Spartans, he also made it on his own for the 2019 single, Hazards. The track proved once and for all that, as a solo artist or a part of an ensemble, he is a fixture in the UK drill scene.
Next: The top UK rappers
2. Wassup — Lil Reese Feat. Fredo Santana And Lil Durk
Lil Reese came onto the drill scene early in the 2010s, first becoming known for his collaborations with Chief Keef and then, in 2012, his single, Us. The following year saw him release Wassup, an over-the-top aggressive, in-your-face rant about not being able to trust people due to being stung too many times before.
3. Dis Ain’t What U Want — Lil Durk
A key part of drill music is its aggression, but Lil Durk made waves by taking it in a smoother, more purely musical direction. In a combination that may as well be called drill pop, he introduced Dis Ain’t What U Want, a song that propelled him to the top of the Chicago drill scene. For all its more universal appeal, the track retains the intensity that is key in drill music.
4. Kennington Where It Started — Harlem Spartans
There is no doubt that Harlem Spartans were one of the biggest drivers in bringing drill to the UK. The London group is responsible for popularizing drill through songs such as Kennington Where It Started, which not only explored the genre but also adapted it to UK culture in a way that was related, yet totally distinct, from its Chicago ancestor.
5. Slide — FBG Duck
Drill music is defined in large part by its stripped-down violence, but few songs have been as aggressively deranged as FBG Duck’s Slide. The track is a frankly terrifying battle cry urging anyone who wants to come challenge him. He is widely credited with revitalizing the momentum of the Chicago drill scene in the 2010s.
6. Welcome To The Party — Pop Smoke
Drill’s journey in the early 2010s was impressive; starting in Chicago, it traveled across the Atlantic to the UK only to double back in its spread and arrive in New York. One of the most influential voices in the New York drill scene was rapper Pop Smoke, who drew on inspiration from UK drill to develop singles like Welcome To The Party. The song wasn’t just a success in the drill scene; it also made its way into popular music and inspired a remix with Nicki Minaj.
7. Treeshin’ — Rah Swish
Rah Swish hails from Brooklyn and has become a keystone in the drill scene there. His 2019 single Treeshin’ is a sexually-fueled anthem about promiscuity. It might not be a new topic for hip hop in general, but it is a unique direction for drill music, which tends to focus more on violence and less on more intimate topics.
8. I Don’t Like — Chief Keef feat. Lil Reese
Back in 2012, Chief Keef dropped one of the biggest diss tracks of all time—and the song that would kickstart the spread of drill music around the world. It was a meteoric rise from a largely insulated music scene to an international phenomenon, all thanks to a collaborative remix by Kanye West, Pusha T, Big Sean, and Jadakiss. The result was the world’s collective eye turned on Chicago and its culture.
9. Live Corn — 67 LD
Rapper LD, a member of the rap group 67, has been dubbed the Godfather of UK Drill. It was his influence that helped shape the UK’s own style, distinct from Chicago drill. Live Corn, his debut single released in 2014, is clearly derivative of Chicago’s rap scene but at the same time, totally distinct as a part of the culture of the UK.
10. Chi-Raq — Nicki Minaj feat. G-Herbo
Nicki Minaj has no connection to Chicago, so what was she doing recording a drill rap about the city with a Chicago native? Her 2016 song Chi-Raq, a collaboration with drill musician G-Herbo, was instrumental in popularizing drill beyond the borders of Chicago and proving that it had a place in mainstream hip hop.
The title comes from a slang term for Chicago referencing its high murder rate.
11. Us — Lil Reese
Lil Reese had long been a rising star, mostly as a sideman working with other major rappers, when he released the 2012 track, Us. Now considered a classic of the Chicago drill industry, it also cemented him as an expert in his craft. The song not only got him a record deal but later returned to the charts after receiving a remix courtesy of Drake and Rick Ross.
12. Faneto — Chief Keef
Chief Keef was one of the most central figures in spreading the Chicago drill around the world. Drill fans will immediately think of Faneto, his unashamed diss track on the state of New Jersey. The song caused riots in the state, leading to its banning from radio replays and live performances. It also caused fans in the state to boycott him altogether.
13. Computers — Rowdy Rebel feat. Bobby Shmurda
Computers signaled one of the most definitive moments in the history of New York drill and proved that it was there to stay. The 2015 track saw Rowdy Rebel teaming up with Bobby Shmurda in a collaboration that brought drill neatly into New York street culture—and sparked a viral meme on the way.
The song is about stepping out from social media and proving you’re as tough as you claim to be.
14. Suburban — 22Gz
Beefs between rappers is a tale as old as hip hop, and it’s no surprise that the trend has made its way into the drill scene. One of these disagreements helped establish drill music in New York, thanks to two diss tracks. It started with Suburban by 22Gz, a violent callout about gang warfare that soon erupted into an all-out rap war between him and Sheff G.
15. Dior — Pop Smoke
The late rapper Pop Smoke released two tracks during his short career that have come to be considered core staples of modern drill music. Yet some people claim that his second hit, Dior, doesn’t qualify as an authentic drill track, instead swerving into other genres such as trap or club rap. But there’s no denying the influence of UK drill on the song; he was simply the one who nailed the formula to give the genre a more universal appeal.
16. When I See You — Foolio
Drill music follows the classic hip hop tradition of sampling music from other genres, but in some ways, it has become a challenge for artists to see how far they can push the envelope. After a collaboration that sampled Vanessa Carlton’s A Thousand Miles, drill artist Foolio responded with a song built on top of Fantasia’s When I See U. But the lightness of the sample doesn’t hide the sheer intensity of the diss track, which veers into an over-the-top rant that laid the groundwork for the emerging genre of Florida drill.
Recommended: Top Florida rappers
17. New Apolos — Smoove’L
Smoove’L’s 2019 song New Apolos was originally intended for rapper Pop Smoke. When plans changed, he turned it into a drill song that swaps out the genre’s usual focus on street violence for an upbeat track about hooking up with a series of women in a single weekend. The rapper blithely admits that he may be a sex addict, but it seems to be a label he doesn’t mind embracing.
18. War — Drake
As a new genre, drill rarely involves already-established hip hop artists. But it had a major moment when Drake took an interest in it, exploring the genre with his 2019 track, War. The song features a freestyle diss track over a UK-inspired drill cadence. It would make significant inroads in helping popularize drill and spread it into mainstream hip hop.
19. Kill Shit — G Herbo And Lil Bibby
In 2012, the rapper who would become known as G Herbo teamed up with Lil Bibby to create one of the rawest and most definitive drill tracks of the genre’s earliest years. An essential part of drill music is its plainspoken violence, and it doesn’t get much plainer than the two rappers breezily suggesting “Let’s kill shit” as though they are planning a fun afternoon activity.
20. AMBUSH — OFB
OFB has become one of the biggest names on the UK drill scene, but the trio marks a slightly different direction in the future of the genre. Their 2019 track AMBUSH is clearly rooted in the drill genre but dives into a complexity beyond sheer aggression. The song made waves in the UK and signaled that—in that country at least—there may be a gentler future for the genre.
21. B.O.N. — King Louie
In 2014, drill was still an up-and-coming genre in mainstream music. However, in Chicago, King Louie’s birthplace, the drill scene was already thriving, and he was a major player there. He has long been credited as a pioneer of drill music, with early hits such as B.O.N. becoming standards of the genre.
22. Homerton B — Unknown T
Drill music has now gotten a foothold in the UK, but it wasn’t until 2018’s Homerton B that it became widely accepted. Before that, it had a niche in the Brixton neighborhood but was largely vilified. But Unknown T managed to bring it into the mainstream with his single, revitalizing the charts and earning a silver certification. After that, it seemed that drill had found a home in the UK.
23. Gumbo Mobsters — King Louie And Bo$$ Woo
Call it proto-drill if you like, released in the earliest years of the genre: Gumbo Mobsters dropped a year before King Louie made waves with his track, I Don’t Like. The collaboration between him and Bo$$ Woo shows just how far drill has come, missing many of the elements of the later decade’s more mature sound; nevertheless, it clearly appears as a forerunner of the genre and a sign of things to come.
24. No Suburban — Sheff G
A slick response to 22Gz’s diss track Suburban, Sheff G sparked a musical feud that would take the New York hip hop scene by force. The back-and-forth was a key moment in the development of New York drill, helping to cement the sound in a way that was distinct from the signature Chicago sound. In Suburban and No Suburban, New York officially adopted drill and gave the genre a home there.
25. Lets Get It — Stickz
Like other early drill songs, Stickz’ Lets Get It is a bit sparse in comparison to the drill of the later 2010s. Nevertheless, it remains an essential track of the newborn drill scene in the UK, showing the beginnings of a genre that would later spread from the neighborhood of Brixton to the wider British hip hop scene as a whole.
26. Deep End Freestyle — Sleepy Hallow Feat. Fousheé
The 2020 track Deep End Freestyle uses samples of Fousheé’s song Be Kind To Your Ears with a harder-hitting drill beat. Sleepy Hallow combines stories of gang life with sexually explicit lyrics and reflections on his rap career.
This points to a future in drill music that may be lyrically deeper than it was in the 2010s.
27. Whoopty — CJ
Rapper CJ entered the drill scene in 2020 with his debut single, Whoopty. The song was partially inspired by the music of the late drill artist Pop Smoke. However, it showed a musical complexity that isn’t typical in the genre, sampling King Von’s Exposing Me and Arijit Singh’s Sanam Re.
28. Look Like You — Grizzy Feat. M Dargg
Grizzy’s 2014 track Look Like You is an anthem about living in a rough part of town, where gang warfare is common and arming yourself is just a part of life. It was this experience that led to the development of drill music, particularly in the early days—a life of violence, danger, and aggression.
29. No Rules — Section Boyz
Section Boyz’ No Rules begins with a monologue from the movie, American Gangster. The song goes on to explain the rules of street life in a track that is typical of the early drill scene in the UK, typified by violence, gang warfare, and drug use.
30. Lemme Get Dat — Giggs And Waka Flocka Flame
Waka Flocka Flame was a hip hop star long before the birth of drill music, but his career took a fascinating new turn when he began experimenting with this new subgenre.
In a move that was, frankly, history-making, the Atlanta rapper reached out to UK artist Giggs. His goal? To remix his song Lemme Get Dat as a drill track in a gesture that crossed both cultures and genres.
31. Big Drip — Fivio Foreign
By the turn of the 2020s, drill music had spread beyond Chicago. In Brooklyn, the genre was headed by rappers such as Fivio Foreign, whose 2020 track Big Drip took him from stardom to icon status. It became a massive hit, particularly in clubs.
32. Go In — Shady
A historical moment in the development of drill music came in 2019 when female rapper Shady dropped Go In. Up until then, drill, like many other hip hop genres before it, was dominated by male voices. She made a defining foothold in the drill scene for female artists, one that would pave the way for other female rappers such as Katie Got Bandz.
33. Lets Lurk — 67 Feat. Giggs
Ask any UK drill fan to name their top drill group and they’ll probably say 67. By the mid-2010s, drill music was spreading outside Chicago and increasingly becoming more influential on the London hip hop scene. Right in the middle was 67, whose 2016 hit Lets Lurk proved that this genre had a home in Brixton in a way that was totally distinct from its roots in Chicago.
34. Crazy Story — King Von
King Von might not have been extremely active throughout the 2010s due to several stints in prison, but what he lacked in recent industry experience he made up for in real-life experience. The Chicago native was uniquely positioned to write about experiences with street life in the city, and his lived encounters made his music stand out on the drill scene.
35. My Everything — B-Lovee
South Bronx native B-Lovee was already establishing himself as a fixture of the New York drill scene, but it wasn’t until his 2021 track My Everything that he was propelled to the forefront of the industry. In typical fashion, the song, which samples Everything by Mary J. Blige, became a hit on TikTok. Later, the track would get a remix courtesy of G Herbo, placing it firmly in the vision of major drill artists.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
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