Of the newer sub-genres of hip hop, none has been more prolific and recognizable than Drill Music.
Drill is a trap-influenced style of hip hop out of Chicago that focuses on lyrics glorifying guns and gang violence, as well as the sale and use of drugs. The genre saw a significant rise in popularity after the success of the Chief Keef track “Don’t Like.”
Released in spring 2012, the Kanye-backed track had a huge buzz almost instantaneously. Keef’s rambunctious shouted chorus coupled with a sizable bump was instantly recognizable, and he went on to put out a series of tracks in this same style.
Not content to just listen to Keef, the public wanted more, leading to pockets of success for fellow Chicago artists like Fredo Santana. More recently, the buzz behind drill music has died down to some extent, going back to the Chicago-based scene that existed pre-Keef.
Enter Slim Jesus and his song “Drill Time.”
Jesus, an 18 year old native of Hamilton, Ohio, chose to emulate the Chicago drill-style on the song. The video is typical of the sub-genre, lots of people standing around pointing weapons at the camera, some throwing up their set, others covering their faces with shirts and bandannas.
However, the video begins with a disclaimer that none of the weapons used in the video are real. When interviewed, Jesus has reiterated that he himself does not participate in the activities he raps about, and that he is paying homage to a style he enjoys to listen to.
Unfortunately, a large portion of the drill community and hip hop in general doesn’t think Jesus deserves a pass.
The major argument everyone presents is that the rapper is being inauthentic by rapping about drugs and guns while not actually living that lifestyle. They claim that people who live those lives draw from their own pain for those words.
If this is truly the case, why aren’t everyone else’s lyrics examined more closely?
Drake raps regularly about his friends who are killers, but I don’t believe for a second he is out in the streets shooting at people.
Rick Ross used to be a corrections officer, but everyone gave him a pass and let him talk about his drug trafficking that apparently rivals the South American cartels.
I’m certainly not accusing all artists of fabricating important details about their life and times, but I think there’s a certain layer of superficial braggadocio applied to a large majority of hip hop topics. It comes with the territory: you’ve gotta illustrate how much more “real” you are than other people to prove your street cred.
The main mistake Slim Jesus made was admitting that his lyrics are fabricated, coupled with the disclaimer at the beginning of the music video. Everyone buys into the facade of “the real,” the last thing anyone wants is an artist to get successful while also admitting their music is a facade.