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In just over a decade, drill has become a global phenomenon. Originating on the South Side of Chicago in 2010, it represented the changing tides of rap music as a whole. Less a testament to your wordplay, and more to your confidence to tell it how it is. The early drill music of pioneers like Chief Keef, Lil Durk, Lil Bibby, and more was dark and in-your-face, narrating the tales of their adverse realities without restraint. It was at times nihilistic, but also hopeful, as their art became a vehicle to propel out of struggle, and speed onto a road of greener pastures.
Flashing forward to now, the drill blueprint is a creation device all around the world, with each subculture of hip-hop adding its flavour. In South London, rap group 67 helped shape the sound of UK Drill, which took the framework of the genre and amplified it with wobbling 808s and a sped-up tempo influenced by the city’s sounds of grime and garage. This formula then hopped back over to the states with the bubbling sounds of New York drill, as artists like the late Pop Smoke, Fivio Foreign, and Sheff G polymerised the blistering 808s of the UK, with the eeriness of the genre’s Chicago origins. It has become such a phenomenon, that it would be hard to find an area in the world without a grassroots movement embedded in the sound.
This leads us to our home turf; Australia. In a sense, drill has reinvigorated our national rap scene. Traditionally, it’s been hard for Australian rappers to make a dent across the pond, from the glossy, pop-sprinkled sounds of radio-heavy Australian hip-hop you’d hear at family barbecues, to the grimy, R-rated lyricism of the ‘gutter rap’ scene that was simply too localised to make the leap. But with the sounds of drill becoming universal, Australian creatives are blossoming beyond a best-kept local secret. In this piece, we’ll break down the 5 quintessential Australian drill acts you need to know, and instantly add to your personal playlist.