How Different Are Drill and House?
Upon Drake releasing a house inspired album and Beyoncé dropping a traditional house single, the overall sound of hip-hop is looking to change course. For the last few years the dominant sound of hip-hop has been driven by the sounds of drill, which is sonically the exact opposite of house music.
Drill circulated from Chicago to London and then exploded in Brooklyn throughout the 2010’s. The subgenre often served as a means for up-and-coming artists from underserved communities to tell their stories and start a rap career. Through time drill has earned a reputation for its graphic lyrics and harsh sounds, yet the sound has persisted for about a decade.
House on the other hand has been around since the 70’s and has proven to be an incredibly resilient subcategory of both pop and R&B, but now is rearing its head into the hip-hop avenue. The overall sound of house music is the antithesis of drill. House is fun and light, drill is heavy and harsh.
What Do They Have In Common?
Believe it or not, there are a fair amount of similarities between these two subgenres of music. Drill grew out of the projects of Chicago and served as a means of expression for artists who otherwise would not have had a voice. House served as a similar means of expression for gay Black men in the post-disco era in Chicago. Both styles of music served stigmatized groups and allowed for communities to come together.
House and drill music are both sample heavy. In the past, house music relied on manually looping and manipulating pieces of disco tracks. Now all of that work is done digitally, and artists like Beyoncé can sample established house records like “Show Me Love” by Robin S.
Drill can adapt and remix nearly any style of music, in fact the Destiny’s Child song “Say My Name” has been used in at least two popular drill songs in this year. British rapper ArrDee sampled Beyoncé’s vocals on his hit song “Flowers” and Fivio Foreign used the same hook for “What’s My Name.” Both styles of music have the ability to swallow up other types of music and create something new out of it.
Another similarity between the two subsects of music is the international aspect. Drill is wildly popular in the UK. After Drill’s original influence in America faded in the mid-2010’s, it took off throughout Europe and emerged as the dominant sound in UK hip-hop. Similarly house music grew and expanded throughout Europe in the 80’s and 90’s evolving into the signature dance music that’s associated with that part of the world. From house grew acid house, Eurohouse, and the techno sounds that are considered staples in places like Ibiza, Berlin, and many international cities. Meaning that both Drill and House have roots in Chicago, New York, and Europe.
House & Club Music In 2022
Although House has made a monumental comeback in the last week or so, it’s had a consistent push from artists like Rye Rye, Cookiee Kawaii, Azealia Banks and other artists from the Jersey, Baltimore, and various cities club scenes. Much of this music has found a home on TikTok and gone viral with fast paced edits and dances.
Some artists like Philadelphia rapper D4M $loan have found success combining Drill and House music, in songs like “Drive Who Crazy” and “Chewbopland.” Both of these songs had viral success on TikTok and Instagram.
However, this organic push from artists like Cookiee Kawaii and D4M $loan is different from the recent popularity that house has gained from Drake and Beyoncé.
The Future of Drill and House
The future of house music will not be built on the backs of Drake and Beyoncé. If house music becomes a mainstay in hip-hop it will be on the backs of artists that have been working on that sound for years. If anything, the emergence of house music in the mainstream is a direct response from older A-List celebrities who would seem inauthentic hopping on the recent drill wave.
Drake attempted to hop on the UK drill sound in 2016 with songs like “No Long Talk” and by working with Skepta, but now the current drill scene does not match the Drizzy brand. Drake’s entire career has been made by hopping on other sounds and styles, so his co-opting of house music is far from surprising. As for Beyoncé, her whole album is yet to be released, so it’s unknown whether the entire project is going to be house-inspired or not.
What Beyoncé and Drake have done for the house genre is give it another life cycle. Artists like Daft Punk and Alice Deejay helped to resurrect the sound in the early 2000’s, EDM gave it another life cycle in the 2010’s, and now here comes the 2020’s iteration of house. Frankly, house has been relevant in every decade since its inception and has been utilized by the likes of Madonna, Janet Jackson, Calvin Harris, and now Beyoncé and Drake. The house sound is reliable and always rears its head into the mainstream.
However, the future and growth of a genre is not dictated from the top-down. A-List pop artists who dip their toes into a sound ultimately do not control the trajectory of that sound. The difference between popular house music and drill is that drill music is bottom-up, and house music is top-down. Meaning that drill is authentically coming from the artists who are growing and telling new stories, whereas Drake and Beyoncé’s house music is being produced by millionaires and billionaires.
The same top-down argument is true for drill. Drill is dictated by the artists that created the sound. A-List artists can hop on a drill record whenever they wants, but ultimately will remain tourist in that lane.
Say what you want about drill, but drill music brought artists out of poverty and made stars out of working-class people. Similarly, drill is reflecting the reality of neighborhoods that are underserved by their local governments and telling the stories of violence that exist in those neighborhoods. Drake and Beyoncé’s house tracks are doing the opposite, they’re telling stories of the rich and famous, and attempting to alleviate and distract from those same issues that drill artists are speaking about.
House has a home in the Jersey, Baltimore, DC, Philly, Detroit, Bay Area and Chicago club scenes that the sounds grew out of. Versions of house will persist throughout Europe and remain relevant in the EDM circles they’ve always thrived in, but do not expect this wave of pop-house to carry on. Drill and house were starting to fuse before “Honestly, Nevermind” dropped and the two subgenres will continue to mold.
The growth of both sounds will be dictated by artists who are coming up, not by the artists who are borrowing the sound. House is having its moment, but don’t expect your favorite rapper to hop on this wave past the Summer of 2022.