You have to be living under a rock not to have heard (or heard of) Odumodublvck’s Declan Rice. Less than a week since the song was released, the Abuja-based rapper has gotten co-signs from both Wizkid and the footballer the song was named after. But before Declan Rice became a smash hit, Odumodu had been kicking it in a rap subgenre everyone needs to get into — drill music.
Influenced by the UK and Chicago drill scene, Afro-Drill is the table all the cool kids are currently seated at. How do you get a seat at the cool table? Start by getting into these eight mind-blowing drillers who are grabbing the industry by the jugular.
Whether you call him Big T or The Wickedest, one thing is for sure, Tomi Obanure‘s music (and black and white visuals) demands your attention and respect — and it’s not hard to understand why. One of the most eclectic drillers in the game right now, Tomi is at the forefront of Abuja’s rap movement. This, thanks to Kinfolk — the record label he co-owns with fellow rapper, Nvthy — and his menacing flow on projects like No Rest for the Wicked and I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.
With Odumodublvck transitioning from underrated Abuja rap hero to global superstar, Tomi is getting ready to take the next spot — lookout for the Kinfolk EP dropping in 2023 — proving that you don’t have to be in Lagos to make an impact on the music scene.
If EESKAY decides to retire today, he can do so confident that he’s already made two Afro-Drill classics: his 2020 Odumodublvck-assisted banger, Agbalagba, and his 2021 album, Drill.Or.Nah. But best believe the drill scene will be at a loss if he makes that move.
The energy and cadence with which EESKAY delivers his music can turn even the most composed audience into a mosh pit of overzealous drill lovers. One minute, you’re trying to figure out his sound. Before you know it, you’re spreading the EESKAY gospel far and wide.
Whether you consider Zilla Oaks a driller or not — because of all the other subgenres of rap he’s ventured into — it’s still impossible to deny his mastery of drill music on songs like Still Up, Bussdown and Psycho YP’s 2022 standout, IC3 with Backroad Gee.
Zilla’s dabble into different sounds makes his delivery of drill music unique. He’s not coming at the sound as someone hyper-focused on being the best driller. Instead, his attack of the beat hints at an artiste who’s hell-bent on being the best, regardless of subgenre. Zilla said it best on Still Up, “Is it grime or drill? Anything Zilly Z touches, he kills.”
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It’s hard to talk about the #EndSARS protest of 2020 without touching on the role music played in gingering protesters across the country. From Davido’s FEM to Ajebo Hustlers’ Barawo, music was everywhere during that period. However, one song that accurately described what everyone was protesting happens to be Droxx and Mo’gunz’ Officer.
Combining the urgency of drill music with Yoruba, Officer talks about navigating police culture as young Nigerians who get harassed, abused and killed by the people employed to protect them. The Lagos-based rapper has continued to swing between expressing the complex and hedonistic sides of life in Nigeria, across collaborations with Slimsyxx (fellow D.S.6 member) and Emmanuel Best.
KVV might be new to the game, but it’ll be in your best interest to not underestimate him. While the rapper’s bars might be jarring to a first-time listener, a specific potency to how he narrates his experiences and dreams makes for an exciting story, whether you believe it or not. In the face of a willingness among most rappers to make their version of drill palatable for a Nigerian audience, KVV stands out with an uncompromising sound reminiscent of the type of music your parents probably warned you about.
Outside of killer verses on Kinfolk’s upcoming EP, word on the street has it that KVV might be dropping a project soon.
It’s safe to say Jaiye was on this drill thing before the subgenre found its Nigerian audience. Itchin, his 2018 single, came first, and by the time Jaiye dropped his first EP, Foreign, in 2019, he’d quickly built a cult following of curious rap lovers ready to follow him off the edge. A combination of the hard-hitting UK drill flow and that Lagos “main character” energy distinguishes Jaiye from the new pack of drillers in Nigeria.
His 2022 EP, Disappointed But Not Surprised, with songs like Enemies and Kweng It, shows that Jaiye’s done trying to prove himself or get Nigerians on board with his music. If you don’t fuck with Jaiye’s music at this point, it’s quite honestly your loss.
If there’s one drill artiste who shouldn’t need mainstream introduction, it should be Legendary Styles. While his name might result in some head-scratching here and there, his 2021 viral hit, I See I Saw, is one of Nigeria’s most popular drill songs, even if most people can’t tell it’s drill.
Unlike most drill rappers who tilt towards intimidating lyrics and British slang, Legendary’s drill style creatively merges funny Nigerian slang with Igbo bars — think Nigga Raw, but drill. If you thought I See I Saw was a one-time thing, you clearly haven’t listened to Legendary’s other gems, like Selfish (Papa Peter) and Old Roger.
Reeplay’s The Jig Is Up is one of the hottest projects of 2023, and we’re not even halfway into the year. Making drill as Nigerian as possible, Reeplay’s music leans on Pidgin English and a rap-sung delivery that removes the foreign barrier between the imported sound and a Nigerian audience.
Since grabbing our attention alongside Odumodublvck on the 2018 track, Finesse, Reeplay has grown as a rapper, keeping his bars tight and maintaining the commanding presence that made him stand out.
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