Music executives discuss New York drill music's bad rap

Crystal Cranmore Image
Friday, May 19, 2023
Inside NYC's controversial drill rap music scene
Several music executives talk to Eyewitness News about the controversy surrounding New York's rap subgenre known as drill music. Crystal Cranmore has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Music executives say Chalim Perry, better known as his stage name Sha EK, is an emerging voice in the New York City drill music scene.

And he's only 19, one of the youngest artists signed to Warner Records.

"It changed my life," says Sha EK to Eyewitness News. "I used to wake up wanting to do mad stuff I'm not supposed to to be doing. Now I wake up and say that's not even worth it."

While drill music, a subgenre of hip-hop, has propelled Sha EK to stardom, police say the deaths of aspiring New York City drill rappers and those in the drill community over the last year point to gun violence.

One of the youngest victims.

"That's what started the whole New York drill was if I beef with you, or if I got a problem with you, I'm gonna say it on this record," says DJ Drewski of Hot 9.

DJ Drewski was an early supporter of drill.

"A lot of people credit Chicago and the Chicago artists like Chief Keef for bringing drill to the States, but for a long time everyone in New York is like, 'Oh, we don't have a sound,'" recalls Drewski of the genre's origin.

"Now, when you hear drill music in New York, you feel like it's ours. And I feel like (rapper) Pop Smoke was the face of that," he added.

To help curb the violence, DJ Drewski announced last year he would stop playing diss music aimed at rival rappers.

"I felt I have to take some accountability and responsibility for being in my position to say I love the music from day one," Drewski says.

"But let's do it the right way."

According to Warner executives, local police had several drill rappers removed from the Rolling Loud New York music festival last September, including Sha EK, who has no criminal record.

These actions are something that Warner Records' President of A&R Steve Carless believes isn't fair.

"I think it's a little bit irresponsible," Carless says. "They're not really doing anything to kind of come in and help lift or understand why these kids are living the way they live."

Warner Records says mentorship is key.

"We're just here to try to catch them and keep them on the straightest path as we possibly can," Carless added.

For Sha EK, that means recognizing the power of his platform.

"That's how I came up, dissing. But not, I'm switching it up because that's not the energy I want to put out," says Sha EK.

As the city celebrates 50 years of hip-hop this year, it's about reflecting on how far it's come.

"Hip-hop saved us," says Carless. "It's created opportunities for our families."

The genre is also now nurturing this new generation of stars.

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