Is Drill Music The New Gangsta Rap of Hip-Hop?

Drill Music in its 10-year life span, can it be the new Gangsta Rap? Drill’s cultural impact has definitely made a Shamu sized splash in places like Chicago, New York. One could argue that Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like,” is a classic Drill song. And I feel if Pop Smoke was still with us and continuing to make Drill hits, he’d be hailed as a classic Drill artist.

Hip hop has always been an evolving genre. From the sounds to the fashion, to the slang, hip hop is always changing. Over its 40-year life span, it has gone through many phases. Some rappers stay, some go. Some samples get used forever, some get used once.

Gangsta Rap came along 30 years ago but will it stay? With a new subgenre like Drill Music making its wave, we may be witnessing a new evolution in hop hop. Drill Music was born in Chicago in 2010 and its godfather is Chief Keef. But after years of evolution, Drill became the biggest subgenre of hip hop in the UK and is now taking over the world.

With its distinct staccato drums and offbeat bass, darkness is the only word to describe the feeling of Drill. You can thank its hyper-violent and realistic lyrics for that. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a new sub-genre of hip hop take over the world. In the late 80s, the world was introduced to Gangsta Rap. And after years of popularization, it became the most dominant subgenre in hip hop.

But what made gangsta rap so dominant? Well, it made an impact on the culture, it reached a mainstream audience and created classic albums/artists. In Drill Music’s 10-year life span, can it be the new Gangsta Rap?

Drill’s cultural impact has definitely made a Shamu sized splash. With places like Chicago, New York, U.K., Ireland, and Australia, Drill has inspired artists all around the globe to create Drill that represents their own lives. With each location sprouting its own version, the theme among them is the same: To create raw music out of darkness.

With artists like Fivio Foreign from Brooklyn NY and Ink from Ireland expressing their own cultures, it’s safe to say that Drill has definitely made a cultural impact. Drill has had some mainstream moments but nothing compared to Gangsta Rap’s mainstream reach.

Every suburban teen knew who N.W.A was after “Fuck Tha Police,” released, but Drill hasn’t quite hit the suburbs yet. Of course, the suburbs aren’t the gatekeepers for mainstream music. Top 40 radio plays and television appearances turn our beloved songs and artists mainstream.

Drake and Kid Cudi both have Drill tracks in their discographies and Pop Smoke’s “Dior,” made it on hip hop radio stations, but it’s still not enough to reach the entire masses. Drill is approaching mainstream status, but it still has a long way to go.

Unlike Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ or Dr. Dre’s 30+ year career, Drill Music hasn’t been around long enough to boast any classics. One could argue that Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like,” is a classic Drill song depending on who you ask. And I feel if Pop Smoke was still with us and continuing to make Drill hits, he’d be hailed as a classic Drill artist. But give it some time and I think this box will be checked off in years to come.

So, is Drill Music the new Gangsta Rap of Hip Hop? My humble opinion believes that it is…not yet. But with its 10-year stride, its cultural impact so far, and its small mainstream drops, Drill Music might just be the most dominant subgenre in Hip Hop history…just give it some time.


Author: Grant Boyer
Grant Boyer is a hip hop head at heart from Chicago, IL. Some of his all-time favorite artists are J. Cole, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, and Biggie. When he’s not writing, he’s playing his Nintendo Switch, watching Seinfeld reruns, and collecting vinyl and cool hip hop collectibles. The coolest hip hop collectible he owns is an original Jay-Z Dead Presidents cassette from 1995. He’s also wondering if anybody has a working cassette player he can borrow.