Words By: Blossom Maduafokwa
Just over a year ago, the phrase “African Drill” wouldn’t have made any sort of sense, but as we all know, a lot can change in a year.
Where before Drill was reserved mainly to its homeland of Chicago, the UK, and later Brooklyn, New York City, there are now huge scenes spread all over the world. Drill is blooming everywhere from Ireland to France to India and beyond. What created a renewed excitement for most of us, was hearing that the genre had reached Africa. Of course, the world was shocked to hear Drill spearheaded by Australia’s ONEFOUR or Italy’s Rondo, but the fact that the genre had reached the continent, specifically for Africans, felt like something else entirely.
Most prominently springing from “Kumerica,” a moniker for the major Ghanaian city Kumasi, Ghana Drill often features a mesh of English, Ghanaian pidgin, and Twi. While the genre is relatively fresh, it has already received plenty of international nods, cosigns, and features. Look no further than Stormzy’s remix of rapper Yaw Tog’s “Sore”, the G4 Boyz’ song featuring Ghanaian rappers Jay Bahd and O’Kenneth, or the fresh new track from Smallgod featuring Headie One.
What’s more, is that other African countries – even without scenes as concentrated as the Kumerica scene – have been steadily following in its wake. Here are some essential Drill tracks and artists to keep track of from Africa, presented in no particular order:
SENEGAL → “Weredi” by Akatsuki SN
Spoken in hard-hitting Wolof, the Senegalese rap group’s first track makes history as one of the first big Drill tracks out of the country. Their recently released second track “Drill Galsen”, literally meaning “Senegalese Drill”, only solidifies their role in Rap as early pioneers of the subgenre in Senegal. It also doesn’t hurt that their track record is basically spotless: both “Weredi” and “Drill Galsen” sport immaculate flows, beats, and visuals.
More Senegal Drill: Rap Wolof Cypher
NIGERIA → “Looseguard” by Legendary Styles
While the first version of the song (which, unfortunately, was the best version) was taken down for copyright reasons, Legendary Styles’ debut single still remains unforgettable. This breakout track, rapped in the rolling Igbo of Southeastern Nigeria along with English, recently burst through the scene as though out of nowhere. It prompted online challenges and received cosigns from the likes of Nigerian artists DaVido and DJ Kaywise and recently, Falz jumped on the track’s remix. While “Looseguard” is by no means the first Nigerian Drill song, it is the first one to take Nigerians within the country by storm and signal what Nigerian Drill might sound like for the future.
More Nigerian Drill: “Apology” by Jeriq
KENYA → “Nairobi” by Buruklyn Boyz
After Kumerica, the Kenyan Drill scene might be the most robust one out of the continent, and the Buruklyn Boyz are some of the undisputed leaders of it. Their track “Nairobi”, while heavily influenced by UK Drill flow and production, still authentically speaks to the group’s everyday life in Kenya’s capital. Upon release, the track catapulted the group to underground Rap fame. What’s more, is that this is nowhere near their only banger – every song from their track “Ki Dejavu” to their most recent release “Piga Lean” will be sure to leave you wondering why you hadn’t listened to the Kenyan rap group earlier.
More Kenyan Drill: “NyaraNyara” by Wakadinali
COTE D’IVOIRE → “Yakro City” by Drill Ivory Coast
“Yakro City” is a fiery ode to Cote d’Ivoire’s capital Yamoussoukro as well as the lives of the boys who inhabit it. It continues the Drill tradition of speaking to the “street” at the same time that it expands the genre to new international heights. The song has no single artist but instead was created by Drill Ivory Coast, a platform that promotes Drill in the country amongst both newcomers and seasoned artists. “Yakro City” is its first and only song to date, but solidifies the creation of Ivorian Drill and a place for it to call home for any tracks that might drop in the future.
More Ivorian Drill: “Secteur” by Tripa Gninnin ft. Lm
AFROFUSION DRILL → “AFRO DRILL” by JIMKAY
“Afro Drill”, track one in a series of 3 songs, is the brainchild of Jimkay, a Parisian artist from the Central African Republic who has made it his mission to routinely mesh French African music with Drill. Sure enough, the song features both a classic Francophone African guitar instrumental as well as the beats that make Drill what we know it to be. With this song, Jimkay gives us a joyful view of Black Parisian life while making a tribute to the permanent role of African culture in that life – highlighting the very essence of fusion.
More Afrofusion Drill: “Opor” by Offica