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How the Brooklyn Drill movement is NY's most unique contribution to rap

After being inspired by their "cousins" in Chicago and London, NYC has elevated the drill movement in today's rap scene!

By ArdenPublished 4 years ago 3 min read

Would it be crazy for me to say, out of all of New York’s contributions to rap — and trust me there’s A LOT of them — what I’m going to share is it most unique ever? Now keep in mind, what I said: Unique. Not greatest. Not the biggest. Heck, I didn’t even say most influential. All I plan on doing is explaining how a sub-genre within New York’s huge rap scene became its most important sound, during this rapidly-growing time in our culture.

My friend AK, who serves as one of my co-hosts on the 4$IDE Podcast, was with me last December at SOB’s. We were given two media passes to cover HOT 97’s “Who’s Got Next?” event, a platform that highlights emerging artists who actually got next. While each show is slightly different, “Who’s Got Next?” has become a viable platform for acts — especially those from New York — who are on the cusp of blowing up. When you also consider the fact, it’s held at SOB’s, a place where Drake, J. Cole, and other famous acts once performed, you soon understand its importance.

But as the night went on and the headliners were performing, AK tapped me on the shoulder and said six words: “This is that Brooklyn Drill sound.” At first, it confused me because when I thought of drill in rap, I quickly thought of Chief Keef, Lil Durk, and others from Chicago who created that sound five or six years ago. Don’t you remember the first time, you saw their videos and how in shock you were? If you’re under 30-years-old, there aren’t many memories as a rap fan, that’ll rival those moments.

Yet, as the term “Brooklyn Drill Sound” rang in my head, I immediately witnessed it in the flesh. As Ether Da Connect performed with the energy of a million people, on and off stage, so were his people on stage. With each rapid drum pattern, beat drop, and flow which is now distinct amongst all sounds in American rap, I realized AK’s statement was correct.

In recent years, whether we’re talking about A Boogie with Da Hoodie, Bobby Shmurda, or the several up and coming artists (Flip Dinero, Sheff G, Pop Smoke, Max Demon, etc) who are catching fire in their respective boroughs, New York’s reemergence on the national scene is all because of these guys and this sound.

I remember saying on my podcast, several months ago, that if hip-hop was baseball, then New York currently has the best group of prospects. Despite our lack of superstars, New York’s reemergence in hip-hop has been because of the young kids and savvy veterans, who either created or expanded upon a new sound.

When we look at the sub-genre known as “Brooklyn Drill”, it’s not filled with so-called superstars and crews. This collection of artists, vibes, and visuals is home-grown, as the home base is literally Brooklyn. Now is BK the only place doing it? Of course, not, as other parts of the Tri-State area are immersed in the sound and created some heat. Yet, as we always say, “there’s no place like home.”

The energy which comes from those guys, even when they’re 20, 30, or even 40 people deep on stage hits DIFFERENTLY. With each song performed, I watched Ether along with Mr. Swipey and Fivio Foreign — whose “Big Drip” record rang off this past summer — effortlessly trade roles in relation to who is leading, dancing, and interacting with the crowd. What made it crazier, was how their own crew, yes those same 20, 30, or even 40 folks on stage, also readjusted with ease!

Energy and a pure expression of yourself are what ultimately define Brooklyn Drill. In case you didn’t know, but a lot of these guys, including Bobby & GS9, come from island-based families who originated in Africa, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Tobago, and other places. As someone who comes from that kind of family, I quickly understood the value of dancing, having rhythm, and setting the tone with your music.

Between my own experience of listening to this sub-genre along with witnessing it in person, I finally realized what is New York’s most unique contribution to rap; and you know what? It felt good knowing it wasn’t made by the industry or will die down anytime soon. Why? Because its purpose is constantly reconfirmed by the people, whose music/actions are fueled by their real lives. That was clearly shown on that faithful night in December, as New York City loudly rapped and danced the night away.


About the Creator


Soon to be 27 | NY born and raised | I've been lucky enough to establish a sports and music writing/podcasting career | Bylines include USA Today, SB Nation, SLAM Magazine, and Zagsblog.

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    ArdenWritten by Arden

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