Born in Chicago and raised in south London, drill has recently made the move to New York. Despite its beginnings in the US, the rap sub-genre is now often thought of as a very British prospect – all understated, icy synths and lyrical reflections on the grittier side of London life. But it seems we’ve now sold drill back to America – so of course it made a beeline for the original home of hip-hop. Here are some of the best drill songs coming out of New York right now.
Fivio Foreign, ‘Wetty’
The boisterous Brooklyn bandit strikes again with ‘Wetty’, the third and final single from his debut mixtape, which coming out in April. Fivio is New York drill’s current champion – and he keeps up momentum on this fun, catchy track.
Best bit: The opening couplet is catchy AF: “I met lil’ mama in the deli / She was a wetty”.
Sheff G, ‘No Suburban’
Flatbush’s own Sheff G – aka the founding father of New York drill – comes out all guns blazing on this clashing, Chicago drill-like anthem. Overloaded with braggadocio, he bigs up himself and his city. Yet this menacing tune isn’t just all talk: there was speculation that ‘No Suburban’ is a diss track towards 22Gz, another New Yorker who believes they started NY drill.
Best bit: The beat drop: listen to you that racing 808 and those skippy hit-hats and try to stay still.
22Gz, ‘Suburban Pt.2’
Now one of New Yorker’s most consistent drillers, 22Gz even achieved attention overseas with this crashing track. After viral meme pages such as @ImJustBait posted his song onto the blog, countless UK rap fans fell in love with its charged-up energy. O22Gz was one of the first to mix his Brooklyn swag with the UK’s distinct drill sound – and it paid off.
Best bit: When you hear him rap, “Bust your piñata, open your māthā / Shoot up the party”, all hell breaks loose.
Pop Smoke, ‘Welcome To The Party’
The biggest name to emerge from Brooklyn in 2019, the late, great Pop Smoke – who tragically died last month – broke the system with this club banger. This was only his second single, but he exploded across the world. It was subversive, too, the feel-good vibe at odds with drill’s typically dour, masculine approach.
Best bit: One line: “I’m a slut – get me lit!”
Sheff G and Sleepy Hollow, ‘Light Work Freestyle’
Sleepy Hollow’s erratic, clever rhyme style and Sheff G’s cold-as-ice cadence make them a unique proposition. They were the first of their kind and this freestyle – thanks to the UK’s biggest drill YouTube channel PressPlay – shows off their unbeatable chemistry.
Best bit: The aggression throughout.
G4 Boyz, ‘Local Scammer’
The Staten Island group appeared at the Camden Assembly in London earlier this month – it cost only a quid to get in – and brought the likes of A$AP Rocky and north London’s Tion Wayne with them. No wonder they’re bubbling in the worldwide drill scene.
Best bit: The G4 Boyz flex their rapping muscles over a generic drill beat, but G4 Choppa’s killer hook makes this one of the best drill songs around.
Max ThaDemon and Ciggy Black, ‘Knoccers’
In rap, it’s important to have is a distinctive sound; Luckily MaxThaDemon Ciggy Black have two of the most eerie vocals in drill. Their husky voices rattle with demonic energy, ready to convert you to the dark side with this raging banger.
Best bit: The transition between Max and Ciggy’s verses; the latter’s skippy flow comes out of nowhere.
Pop Smoke, ‘Dior’
Everyone knows that when you hear a Pop Smoke song, you’re in for a treat. Like Smoke’s signature tune ‘Welcome To The Party’, ‘Dior’ is a Brooklyn classic with a breath-taking opening line.
Best bit: That opener: “Said I’m never lackin’, always pistol packing / With them automatics, we gon’ send him to heaven”. How did he say that in one breath?