What is true about Nigeria’s drill rap scene is that it’s in its infancy. Likewise trap music which it evolved from, drill is bubbling with its own underground purveyors, a decidedly masculine culture that’s more than just the music but also has embraced drill as a lifestyle. Enter Droxx, whose latest EP Riot was out Thursday, a joint project with drill compatriot Mo’ Gunz.
With Officer and Heathrow as headline singles, Riot rests on growling, hard-hitting basslines and oversize attitudes. ”I met Gunz online sometime in January 2020,” says Droxx, ”I saw a cover he did to Drake’s War and I was hella impressed. At the time I hadn’t met a lot of Drill artists in Naija and he stood out. It was only right we made a joint project the chemistry was mad from the first link up, it just had to happen.”
Officer is a song about navigating police culture, and the video is a rebellious picture of balaclava-wearing cohorts, neck chains, dyed hair, and bare torsos.
Droxx and Mo’ Gunz recorded Riot during last year’s coronavirus lockdown. Droxx tells more, ”Gunz is based in Abuja but he was in Lagos at the time but he travelled before we could finish it in 2020, so there was a delay in the recording. The remaining half was completed towards the end of 2020 and early in 2021.”
Still on the project, Shalaye shows the overlaps between drill and trap, from its central motifs to the snares, hi-hats, deep drums and 808’s. Same sonic features can be found on Droxx’s 2019 debut EP Ignis Grando, but dropped under a different artiste name D.S.6 and went to chart in 20 countries. D.S.6 is an alternative hip hop duo that comprises of Slimsyxx and Droxx himself.
With the origin of drill music from Chicago and its explosion in the UK and elsewhere, Droxx is one of the mascots driving the local drill scene by trafficking in Nigerian sensibilities and lingo. It’s a movement named as 234Drill, appearing as hashtags on social media and fostering links from all over. ‘‘Drill music itself started as an underground type ting, it’s more popular now and it might get bigger or not but It doesn’t really matter if it explodes in Naija, hip-hop music already has challenges with being commercial here, but I’m pretty sure with the efforts and work that a lot of us been putting in it’ll only get bigger. The sky is the limit still.”
Born Habeeb Olaitan, Droxx comes from a comfortable family although not without challenges. After graduating with a law degree from the University of Ilorin in 2019, Droxx is now based in Lagos.
Interestingly, Droxx grew up listening to a range of music, from artistes like Asa, Lagbaja, Psquare, Weird Mc, Sir Victor Olaiya, 2Face, Eedris Abdulkareem, to Elton John, Lil Wayne and Kanye West. Perhaps this is why, as an artiste, Droxx doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into one particular genre. And although his catalogue is currently skewed towards drill/trap, he still looks towards a future of making music in Afrobeats, reggae, RnB and pop. ”I’ve not always been a drill rapper,” Droxx reveals, ”I can confidently say there’s no genre of music I can’t hop on. Been recording drill songs since 2018, but didn’t make the transition until about 2020. I stuck with it cause I got more buzz off the Drill ting than I used to before. The sound is new and different and people want more.”
The 22-year-old artiste is mostly in the realm of collaborations. This year, he’s featured on Jedi Chief’s Runjozi and Whyte’s Alexander McQueen, but if there’s anyone in the international drill scene he would love to collaborate with it, UK rappers like Headie One, Abra Cadabra or Unknown T are among the top crop. While Riot is a current release and bonafide drill offering, Droxx isn’t keeping idle. ”Got an afro fusion tape dropping later in the year under D.S.6 though, gonna be our sophomore project, apart from that there’s numerous collaborations with a couple of your favorites too. Watch this space.”
When Bernard Dayo isn’t writing about pop culture, he’s watching horror movies and reading comics and trying to pretend his addiction to Netflix isn’t a serious condition.