Accelerated by the digital age, drill music is evolving at rapid speed. From the UK origins of drill from South London to early Chicago drill songs to ‘soul drill’... Sample drill is yet another development. This time it's a subgenre built around catchy, nostalgia-driven pop, R&B, and hip-hop—the power of recognizability, oftentimes with viral appeal. Even source material like the Scooby-Doo theme song (TikTokker LLD) and the ice cream truck jingle (MTA Shifty) found its way into sample drill nostalgia.
Examples of rap sampling rap are XXXTentacion's "Changes" on Kay Flock's "Being Honest," or how one of the most in-demand drill producers, Cash Cobain (self-proclaimed “Sample God”), reworks early 90s hip-hop classics in his productions for the likes of Shawny Binladen, Big Yaya, and Lucki.
“They just flow good,” drill artist B Lovee told Okayplayer about drill beats that sample older songs. “They be old throwback songs… Majority of the time I just hear samples I recognize. Sometimes, I don’t know what the song is, but somebody in the room [is] gonna know.”
Even as a subgenre by itself, New York sample drill can be dissected and defined in different ways—the style finds roots in both the Bronx and Brooklyn. “The difference between Bronx drill and Brooklyn drill is, when Pop Smoke came, he made that shit more swaggy,” producer Cash Cobain explains to Complex Magazine. “He had a different approach to it. It was calmer. These little kids from the Bronx are wild. They on demon time. They’re angrier with their shit.”
Upon the release of "Whoopty" by Staten Island rapper CJ, Pitchfork wrote that it "may be the biggest drill record of the last several months." Even more so when the likes of Cardi B and Wiz Khalifa hopped on the beat and shared videos of their versions on social media.
The song, produced by Pxcoyo, was inspired by the passing of Pop Smoke, the ‘face of Brooklyn drill.’ “We had lost Pop [Smoke], may he rest in peace, and I felt that we were missing that energy,” CJ said in an interview with HipHopDX. “That New York bop, that New York swag. You know what I’m saying? We were missing that whole lane.”
The production for “Whoopty” wasn’t built around a nostalgia-focused sample, so the exact definition of whether or not the 2020 song classifies as sample drill is up for debate. The same goes for “Off The Yak” by Young M.A, for which producer U-Dub sampled a prog-rock composition titled “Aria For Italy.” "I liked the dark cinematic feel to it,” he told Tracklib last year. “I thought the unique analog Arp effect was a good ‘ear candy element’ to punctuate the end of each bar.”
Both of these songs don't classify as sample drill in the sense of a nostalgic and viral-grabbing choice of sampling, which is the biggest attribute to the subgenre of drill music.
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