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2020 has been a breakthrough year for UK Drill in terms of commercial success as the genre has cemented its place in mainstream British pop culture.

However, that success has necessitated a shift away from the grittier, ruder, more violent lyrical style that hardcore fans clamour for, towards more radio-friendly content.

(Active Gang) Suspect - Test My Temper

Block 6

Based in Catford, in the South London Borough of Lewisham, gang/rap group Block 6 has been doing UK Drill for a while now.

The first of their members to put Block 6 on the map musically was A6, with tracks like Skeng 4 Skeng in 2016 (a track credited as A6 featuring himself as his alter ego, Mad A, who wears a balaclava — yes it’s a bit confusing) and his now infamous Bla@ckbox session in 2017.

A6 - Skeng 4 Skeng

Photo by Ben Lim

Oftentimes I find myself lying perfectly comfortably in bed at the exact time I need to sleep in order to be a productive human being the next day, only to find myself sitting at my desk five hours later, fully burrowed into an internet rabbit hole about a random topic.

I then drag myself to bed with no uncertain amount of dread and self-loathing as I imagine what’s going to happen when I’m forced to rejoin society in three hours time.

This is far from a novel experience for me. I — and my mother as she’s oft to tell…

Dark, sundering, sliding 808s, complex, syncopated hi-hat structures, foreboding minor scale melodies and violent lyrics are the hallmarks of the British rap subgenre known as UK Drill. A sound that has cemented its place in UK popular culture as the sound of the streets, the youth and, increasingly, the UK top 40 charts.

A Brief History

Nascent UK Drill emerged from the UK Road Rap (The UK’s own brand of gangster rap which took off in the 2000s) scene and was inspired by its namesake Chicago Drill, as gang members-turned rappers found kindred spirits in their peers on the other side of the…

Ben Lim

Ben is a half-Northern Irish, half-Chinese, Fourth Culture Kid based in Singapore, who has written for Discovery Channel, WWF and Asian Food Network.

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