Tuesday, July 5

The singers of the ‘drill’: “You don’t know when they want to give you a hand or a fuck”

They met on Instagram. Aya Ayat, 19, traveled last week from Cartagena to Barcelona to record a drill song with Kare, 20, who is from the Catalan capital. He will sleep at home, they already have enough to pay the 400 euros that the video clip and the song costs them, in addition to the train, but it is something that he would not do with the male artists of this subgenre of rap, viral and fashionable in the neighborhoods , with lyrics that extol neighborhood values ​​and violence.

The young people of the neighborhood want to live off the ‘drill’, a new, more violent rap with millions of visits in networks

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“When someone opens you privately for a collaboration, they are immediately praising the song on the one hand and on the other throwing the cane. You never know when they want to give you a hand or a fuck,” Aya laments. “Many times you are valued more for your physique than for your talent,” he adds, although days later he will remember in a story of Instagram that this also happens “in companies, in other genres of music, everywhere.”

“I just trust her,” Kare defends her, to whom more than once they have offered a collaboration from another region of Spain. “Right away they tell you: ‘You stay at my house, here you have everything …’ I pass.” They tell it with the same rawness and roundness with which the songs of drill they generally express the harshest contexts of the neighborhoods. Without fear.

In a humble studio in Cornellà, Bason and Pau lay the foundations, the mike and the cameras, and recorded a video clip of the living room, with neon lights staining the premises red or green, while another friend, a little oblivious to everything, smokes shisha on a sofa accompanied by two cats even more indifferent to this scene. Small neighborhood music and audiovisual producers, with their beats and its cameras are a whole new industry of emerging entrepreneurs that has been formed around this rap that moves the masses, especially in the new digital broadcast platforms.

Much higher in this universe, Rosalía’s own producer in Evil Willing and from many of Bad Gyal’s hits, El Guincho, has produced one of the leading names in the world. drill, Beny Jr., with whom he has released a couple of songs recently, in what can be a giant step for this genre to expand audiences. Something that Morad undoubtedly already did, although with a musical style less close to this genre and with more nods to French rap and a very personal stamp.

The drill, a subgenre of rap with inflated bass, its own aesthetic and nihilistic, violent lyrics that exalt the imaginary of the most humble neighborhoods, is a viral phenomenon that reaches the networks from the most disadvantaged urban areas of Spain, two years after some of his songs were banned in London to coincide with a wave of violence. In Chicago, its emergence ten years ago also coincided with stronger gangs. In the Anglo-Saxon versions, the use of real or dummy pistols in videos and explicit threats is much harder than in Spain.

Here, Morad – with few explicit allusions to violence and much ode to the neighborhood, friends and family – has made the genre explode and hundreds of kids want to live off it in the first boom culture that is not predominantly white in Spain: voices of children of Moroccans, sub-Saharan Africans, Latin Americans predominate … On YouTube, new topics appear every day under the hashtag #spanishdrill, which currently has 7,500 videos, the vast majority made by men . Some young people are beginning to monetize listening with this unique crossroads between music from below and digital marketing.

Questioning which neighborhood is the harshest or “spicy”, accusing the rest of the musicians of not being authentic in their tough-guy façade and claiming that authenticity as their own are some of the recurring elements of these rappers’ piques, in an infinite loop. from performance and tough guy theatricality. “You are tough in the videos, but in person you are not, I am”, I would summarize this feeling.

“In this of the drill Everything is lies / The one who says he does is the one who messes it up the least / In the urges the most macho head-on doesn’t even look / If he looks and I hook him, he doesn’t breathe, “Aya Ayat sings in her new song, yet to be released with a turn to that common place of questioning that the hardness of the other is real. In his case, directly, he attacks that inflated masculinity and often based on violence and threat (although not always, also on loyalty, friendship , care for the family and humility).

From Marseille, where she has just moved with her mother with better job prospects than in Zaragoza, where she grew up, Bebegrande answers by phone that it doesn’t happen to her that boys want to flirt with her when collaborating. “In my case, I have the privilege that it shows me that I am a lesbian and they do not fit me. And I think that because I am a girl it even attracts more attention and they pay more attention to me,” she reflects.

Daughter of a Cape Verdean bricklayer and an Angolan woman who works in a restaurant in Marseille, raised in the Zaragoza neighborhood of Delicias, Bebegrande is not considered “so streety” and what attracts her to the drill it is more aesthetics, so he runs away from the exaltation of violence in his lyrics. “I am not in that movement, I try to sing what I feel, yes to exalt the values ​​of humility, to defend what is yours, to criticize the false, which is in the street and is everywhere … But I do see that what this hit is that, singing about violence, although I do not believe that the drill it has to be to threaten someone. ”

“For being a girl you are no less tough”

That exaltation of own aggressiveness in the lyrics of this type of music “it seems that when a girl does it it is less credible”, criticizes Kare, who sees there one of the difficulties to progress. “That performance It is a little inspired by things you can see, hear or live in the neighborhood, but it is clear that it is not your day to day, otherwise you would not dedicate yourself to sing. You do not know if I have had to run away more times than you, I have stolen more times than you, in short, because being a girl you are no less tough, “she reflects.

For Kare, the world of drill it is nothing more than a new derivative of a rap that he has been singing and writing since he was nine years old. “Nobody in my school liked it, until in 2015 the freestyle [la improvisación] she started to rock it and everyone signed up for fashion. “She alternates jobs in bars and stores that she maintains” especially to be able to record “and has managed to get her most viewed video to have 30,000 views, still far from being able to monetize it, although both she like Aya fully confident in getting it.

Following in the footsteps of other rappers such as Morad or Beny Jr, both from L’Hospitalet, many of these rappers see music as an escape route to the precariousness of the neighborhoods, direct and without filters like the record companies, although the economic regulations that put Youtube or Spotify for these companies require hundreds of thousands of listeners per month to reach a decent salary.

Aya Ayat later came to the world of rap. She wrote lyrics since she was little and, about a year ago, she heard songs from the drill and it occurred to him that he would do it differently, he launched into it. He brought up his first theme, welcome, which came out four months ago, with a video clip in which she is surrounded only by girls, covered with balaclavas as required by the aesthetic codes of drill and No face, no marry. It currently has 65,000 views, an important figure but still far from monetization, since YouTube requires 4,000 hours of accumulated viewing in the last month to start seeing revenues. So for the moment, like Kare or Big Baby, the drill it is still an investment for her. “Sometimes it’s hard because one day you’re inspired, you write something to yourself and you have to wait a couple of months to record, when you put the money together,” says Aya Ayat, now unemployed, from separated parents who came from Morocco before she was born. .

The origins of Aya Ayat, like those of Morad, like those of Beny Jr, those of Patrón 970 and in general the singers of drill Spanish that they sound in the loudspeakers of the young people in the parks, are also reflected in the letters of their songs. In the UK, their influence has inspired a academic study. Here, Aya Ayat uses common expressions in Arabic, such as sahbi, which is equivalent to “brother” or “brother” and there are many singers who are adding different expressions of the languages ​​of their parents in their songs. Bebegrande has also done it with Creole, a dialect of Portuguese in Cape Verde.

That diversity, on the other hand, is difficult to see in terms of gender, although girls like Bebegrande, Kare or Aya Ayat strive to have their place. The most popular, for now, is La Xinni, which was first released on Tik Tok and whose most viewed song, Determined, has four million views on YouTube. The lyrics of the songs of drill It cannot be said that they are much more macho than those of rock or reggaeton. The women appear rather little but “it is true that sometimes they do it as if they were an object”, warns Bebegrande.

The mothers, on the other hand, who raised Aya Ayat or Kare alone, who admire them for their determination, also appear in the songs of the boys as the great heroines of their history. “Being able to give your mother a better life is the great goal,” sums up Aya Ayat and many of the lyrics by other artists.

The police, on the other hand, appear as the main enemy to flee from in these songs that, at the same time, can praise crime as a way of making a living or violence as a method of settling scores with rival gangs or rappers. Even more than in the role of women in songs, it is in this apology for violence that a little new masculinity transpires, a continuation of “my neighborhood is the most crappy” that has always been breathed in the peripheries, much more between men than women.

However, as in any genre, there are artists who try to deviate from the preset. To be tough or to do trapis remain a source of pride in the lyrics of the songs, in any case, it is not precisely the fault of the music. Unless, of course, we understand being tough as Kare defines it: “Be humble, don’t go that you are more, respect people and take care of yours without stepping on anyone, but without letting them step on you.”