Brooklyn-based drill rapper Ice Spice (Isis Gaston) has taken the world by storm. In the age of an internet-dominated music industry, with apps facilitating the rise of dozens of pop and hip-hop artists, Ice Spice’s internet relevancy is more poignant than ever. Her fame is largely thanks to TikTok. Ice Spice’s whispery, unconventional flow, unique sample choice, and arguably comical bars make her a prime player for internet fame. Songs like “Munch (Feelin’ U),” “In Ha Mood” and “Boys a Liar Pt. 2” (featuring pop sensation Pink Pantheress) are prime choices to play and have a laugh. Besides Ice Spice’s signature vocals and inspiringly blunt lyricism, her status as a New York drill rapper has greatly contributed to her rise to fame. Drill is a hugely influential subgenre of hip-hop which is currently moving into the mainstream, and becoming one of the most innovative, ear-catching subgenres in hip-hop in the 2020s.
“Drill music shares similar characteristics with trap music; its beats are characterised by flighty hi-hats and deep sliding bass lines.”
Drill music shares similar characteristics with trap music; its beats are characterised by flighty hi-hats and deep sliding bass lines. Mainstream drill artists include Chief Keef, Pop Smoke, Digga D and many more. Now an international movement, the genre started to gain traction in the early 2010s in Chicago, originating in the city’s O-block, a public housing project defined by some of the most influential drill rappers of all time such as Chief Keef and King Von. Hits from Chief Keef such as “Love Sosa,” “I Don’t Like,” “**” and “Hate Bein’ Sober” helped to facilitate the rise of the genre and it quickly spread globally. In 2012, the UK drill genre grew in Brixton, London, and borrowed heavily from Chicago drill’s drum patterns, sliding bass, and violent lyricism. It wasn’t until the 2020s that a unique drill scene emerged in New York.
The New York drill sound is defined by classic drill drum patterns overlayed by looped sampling and is currently being pioneered by producers and artists such as EvilGiane, POLO PERKS and Riot. Now, drill lyrics have diversified to accommodate a mainstream audience, deviating from exclusively gang-related topics. This has allowed artists like Ice Spice to take the stage while still fitting into the New York drill category. Her popularity has infiltrated pop culture everywhere, as it has Dublin.
“Dublin-based rapper and designer TraviS, in collaboration with producer Elzzz, released a straight-shot UK drill album in January this year that blew the Irish iTunes charts up astronomically.”
Ice Spice’s popularity is obvious in Dublin considering the city’s pre-existing appreciation for drill music. The hip-hop music scene in Dublin seems to take inspiration from both UK and American influences — the amount of both UK and American drill that is played during hip-hop DJ sets in Dublin is a testament to that. Drill is so evidently an international movement that has little regard for national borders. Dublin-based rapper and designer TraviS, in collaboration with producer Elzzz, released a straight-shot UK drill album in January this year that blew the Irish iTunes charts up astronomically. The project is unapologetic in its UK drill status, yet dips its toes into experimental sampling and alternative rap trends. Drill influence has also reached Dublin producers. DJ and producer Rory Sweeney’s recent single boasts a lively feature from E the Artist. The song starts with a sample of the introduction to Chief Keef’s “Love Sosa”. Although “Love Sosa” has become very mainstream, the sample speaks for drill’s relevancy everywhere.
However, it’s not just drill that has found a home in the Dublin hip-hop scene. Chamomile Club is a group of creatives aiming to cultivate community through music, fashion, digital arts and dancing. The recently-formed group holds night events at various spaces around Dublin, where hip-hop dominates the aux. Although not all the members of Chamomile create hip-hop music, the genre is a staple of their events, featuring artists like Pop Smoke, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert and Pierre Bourne. Another group by the name of WLIN underground is a Dublin-based underground hip-hop collective who have hosted a handful of events at The Workman’s Club this past academic year. While Chamomile often plays mainstream hip-hop and trap, WLIN features rising sub-genres of hip-hop that haven’t made it to the mainstream, such as pluggnb, tread, surge and rage. To give a simple description of these genres, they harbour ethereal and spacey beats and often emphasise experimental production. More mainstream artists who may be heard at a WLIN event include Yeat, Destroy Lonely, Summrs and Autumn!. The collective also features performances from Dublin-based rappers who are influenced by these subgenres, such as Desires and phatphuq.
“Both Chamomile Club and WLIN Underground are examples of this, as collectives that celebrate and uplift hip-hop.”
There are countless innovative creatives making waves in the underground hip-hop scene in Dublin. Both Chamomile Club and WLIN Underground are examples of this, as collectives that celebrate and uplift hip-hop. Those who appreciate hip-hop and enjoy a creative scene should not miss these Dublin events.