Chief Keef’s “War” (2014) is a Drill classic (Fredo’s “War” is hot too, RIP). FBG Duck and Rooga’s “Exposing Me (Remix)” is quickly on its way to that status as well. Both capture the essence of Drill: built-up rage from years-long beefs transferred onto wax without holding back. There is no artistic filter between the lyrics in “War” and “Exposing Me” and the people, places, and true stories of violence which influence the songs.
When Drill songs get that personal, fans have a dilemma: the music is fire, but the lines between art and real life get blurred worse than in any other form of hip-hop.
Look at these bars from Sosa’s “War” as an example:
That life I ain’t BOUT THAT, I’m bout pushin SCALPS BACK
Pull up on yo block BITCH, let my niggas OUT THAT
Foreign car, CLOUT that, I’M HIGH OFF THIS TOOKA PACK
I’M HIGH OFF THIS AIKI PACK, I’M HIGH OFF THIS TU-TU PACK
Hard not to lose your shit when it gets to that part. Kill-or-be-killed rage. Chaotic energy you can’t get from cleaner, robotically-produced bangers. It’s the feeling any well-known Drill artist of the past 8 years or so has been able to capture in their music.
If your Drill knowledge is limited, here’s the context I’m able to give you as a secondary source (i.e. Drill fan with friends from Chicago) to help you read this article:
- Gangs (e.g. BDs, GDs) still exist and are usually associated with blocks (e.g. 300, 600, 069). Drill artists rep cliques (e.g. FBG, GBE, OTF) and blocks in their music more than actual gangs. All the gang ties are implied by blocks/cliques (which I don’t know enough about to speak on).
- Naming the weed you’re smoking after an opp (e.g. that Zander pack) is the ultimate disrespect, meaning you/your man killed him or you’re glad they’re dead. Figure of speech saying you’re still smoking someone even after they were smoked.
So, every time Chief Keef says he’s high off of someone’s pack, that person’s gone. And he or someone he knows is responsible. In fact, that disgusting cough at the beginning of “War” is exaggerated to show he’s coughing on an opp pack. There are levels to this. (The original 5-minute version replayed the intro 3-4 times so the point was even clearer.)
“War” is a classic example of how disrespectful and personal Drill music can get, even when compared to gangsta rap of the past. That level of “Oh they’re serious” has been reached recently with FBG Duck and Rooga’s remix of the local hit “Exposing Me” by Memo 600 x King Von.
The remix is ruthless for two main reasons: Duck and Rooga redid a rival’s song and got more views in less time, and the number (and intensity) of dead opp references went up in the remix.
I’ont know who to smoke, but I’ll take lil boo to go/I can see him through the smoke…Tweakin’ off the mids, I think Lil Steve comin’ through the floor
Fuck Sheroid, Fuck ODee, Fuck D-Thang and Fuck Tire head
Duck: Who the steve on? Rooga: Pass em to me! We’ll just add him to the family tree
To the casual listener, and even some invested ones, Tooka, Aiki, Tu-Tu, Lil Boo, Steve and many other names are just lyrics in hot songs. And that’s the fucked-up part. Once you find out all of these mystery nicknames belonged to real people—mostly teenage boys living the same struggle their more-famous rapper peers lived—it’s impossible to defend a joke about smokin’ Tooka just ’cause it sounds cool.
It’s easy to make the mistake. Pretty much everyone including other rappers (e.g. Young MA, Lil Pump) thought/still thinks “Tooka” is just Chicago lingo for weed the way Keef uses it all the time. But once you know, you gotta give it up. It’s not for you to use.
This isn’t cheering for one rapper in a rap beef or dissing an unnamed “they” or “fuck niggas.” If, knowing what I know, I yell “SMOKIN ON THAT FATHEAD” at the party ’cause “War” was stuck in my head, I’m directly celebrating Antonio Davis’ murder and shitting on everyone near and dear to him just because one of my favorite rappers did not like him. Those feuds were there way before the music—probably carried on by older siblings and cousins for years—unlike most of the high-profile rap beefs in recent memory.
Personally, I can’t make IG captions or own lyrics I can’t 100% claim as real to me. There’s no way I could look FBG Duck in the face and say I have the right to invoke his dead homies to fuel my turn-up.
Lame. That’s what Drill’s about. Don’t listen to the shit if your feelings hurt
Sure, but you’re goofy. You can say I’m taking things too seriously for not wanting to recite lyrics about mocking a dead 14-year-old boy with a face and a name, and I can call you a dickrider for investing so much of your pride in the story of a rapper you’ll never get to meet, whose life you’ll never get to live or truly understand.
We tell White folks to not touch “nigga” at all. So, even though Chief Keef is wildly influential, why can’t we expect people who supposedly know hip-hop and know Keef’s music to keep “Tooka” out of their mouths? Same thing with “Steve” if “Exposing Me (Remix)” gets even bigger.
So we can’t listen to music about experiences we don’t have? Most people listen to rap they can’t 100% relate to
Of course not. Most people don’t listen to music, broadly, they can’t completely relate to. And that’s fine. But trolls and overeager fans with no ties to these artists are wrong for vocally taking sides in Drill artist conflicts based on their musical opinions. To most Drill fans, a hot song can only be that: a hot song. We can celebrate these artists surviving, thriving, and giving their demons breathing room, but we can’t pretend to really be in it with them.
I like both versions of “Exposing Me” with a slight preference for Duck and Rooga’s. But it would be out of pocket for me to say “Nobody fuckin’ wit FBG ofn fuck Memo *100 emoji*” because I don’t know these people. However, nothing is stopping thousands of comments just like that pouring into these videos:
The Drill scene can’t even be compared to other rap markets with big gang presences. Consider hip-hop in Southern California. A lot of the hottest rappers from Long Beach, Compton, and the greater Los Angeles area are/were locked in one way or another—Nip (RIP), ScHoolboy, YG, Jay Rock, Blueface, you name it. And while they rep their sets heavily and may get into it with rivals from time to time (e.g. Game/40 Glocc), these very personal, long-term block-to-block beefs are not featured in their music quite like it is in Drill.
Mainstream talk about Chicago’s issues tends to be dry, polarized, and oversimplified. Drill music is among the most honest content about Chicago there is. There are Drill artists who reflect and wish for better days in Chicago (e.g. Polo G, Lil Durk), but that doesn’t make Chief Keef’s music or Duck’s music any less real and needed.
Rap fans listening to and enjoying Drill is a huge benefit to the culture, and it’s foolish to require a fan to be from Chicago. What isn’t crazy, though, is expecting fans to learn a bit about Drill’s background and respect certain boundaries with that knowledge.
No clowning on dead teenagers for clout, and no internet gangin’. Please.