• Bobby Scorsese

Who is the King of UK Drill?

Who's got the crown in the drill scene? Who is the number one star that has shined the most in this genre?

There are many drill artists who are considered as being top dog in the scene. But I believe there is truly one star that has shined the most and deserves the crown as King of UK Drill.

Drill since the mid-2010s has taken over the country, and the UK drill sound has gone global. As much as we have to give the producers their flowers for making the sound, we also have to recognise the voices that gave light to the sound for everyone to hear. What started in Chicago in the early 2010s, we adopted and made the sound our own. There are many artists who people would consider being the King of Drill in the UK. I believe that person is Headie One. Here are my reasons why.

For someone to be the king of drill, they have to have a classic drill song point blank. They have to have a song of their own that has grabbed the streets by the neck. They need to have a song that people will immediately say is "for the streets" or "for the culture". Drill is about the realities and stories of the tough hood life, and the fans need to recognise that the song conveys this narrative. That means they can’t just have cold verses and appearances. They must have at least one solo song that has changed the game at some point; that’s what it takes to be a king of something. So, I’m not hearing anything about anyone from a group that doesn’t have any solo songs or if they only have freestyles to live off. Headie has those “must know” songs like Golden Boot and Know Better; the instrumental for Know Better alone is a UK drill classic. Furthermore, The One mixtape is an absolute quality mixtape and one of UK drill's finest.

Secondly, they must have been in the game for at least a few years and have held a status within those years. This would allow them to have at least a body of work that people have enjoyed and are considered top projects in drill. This can be within a group, but it won’t be enough for you to be King – a king is one person, so they need to shine on their own. This may seem problematic because many drill artists serve considerable time in prison and so cannot release any projects. However, that’s the life that they live and music is not about what could’ve been, it’s about what they’ve given and if they can keep on giving. I can’t call you the king of drill if you have no mixtape or other project to your name because you haven’t done enough, regardless if they are incarcerated. Headie has been in jail multiple times, but his name is still revered in the scene. He’s now mainstream and has even transitioned above the genre. It's the work he’s put in for the scene that has made it more than enough for him to retain his status as King of UK drill.

Thirdly, and definitely most importantly, you must embody drill itself. Meaning, when people talk about you, they cannot deny that your music and sound are integral to the UK drill movement. People must recognise that your image in drill is one that represents UK drill correctly. It may be hard to picture how this may look, but if I say a name like RV or K-Trap, it’s no question that they are true representations of what UK drill is. From what they say and the conviction in how they rap, you believe their story and what they’re about. Headie fits this; his nonchalant persona even adds more to his style because there’s not many like him. A lot of he says is just too unique for you to think he has not come from the road life, and he pairs it up when he does his melodic rap whilst maintaining the road personality.

He’s one of a few drill artists who have seen commercial mainstream success and his quality of sound has not declined. He’s got arguably one of the strongest debut solo drill mixtapes with The One, and he’s given strong freestyles such as the Street Heat freestyle and his Behind Barz with RV (one of my favourite drill freestyles). Furthermore, there’s no denying he embodies what UK drill is and is a good introduction to those who are unfamiliar with UK drill. There’s no other drill artist who has done more than him and has done it so consistently; he has shown other drill artists what it means to transition from the streets to the mainstream, so Headie One is my King of Drill.

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