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11 of Our Best Weekend Reads

Welcome to the weekend. If you are an American, you are most likely having a quieter July Fourth celebration than last year. If you’re in Britain, you might finally be able to have a pint at the pub. Whatever you are doing, take care and make some time for some fantastic journalism.

Credit…The New York Times
Credit…Taylor Callery
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‘Big Drip’: How Brooklyn Drill Went Global

A hyper-local strain of hip-hop that started in Chicago was tweaked by bedroom producers in the United Kingdom before taking over Brooklyn. Now it’s the soundtrack to a summer of unrest. The latest episode of Diary of a Song breaks down “Big Drip,” one of drill’s defining anthems.

Crowd: “Hey!” [singing] “Hey! Hey, hey, hey!” “Fivio.” “Wow. What up?” “What’s up? Talk to me about Pop Smoke, and what he meant to the Brooklyn drill scene.” “Oh, everything.” [singing] “He basically was, like, one of the first people to take, like, the new Brooklyn, U.K. drill sound, and make it, like, mainstream.” “And after his death, like, do you feel like it’s part of your job to carry on that legacy?” “Yeah, definitely.” Rapping: “Hey! Bust it up. Look what we printed. Proud, proud. Winning. Looking for ’em. Spinning. Demons with me. Sinning. Bust it up. Look what we printed. Hey, big drip.” “I’m from Brooklyn, N.Y. I mean, I think I was rapping all my life. Since I was 3 years old.” “What made you start taking rap seriously?” “The people, really. Like, the people started giving me the confidence. Like, ‘Yo boy, you nice. You nice.’ Rapping: “You better not tag me. Yeah. And if you sending threats, then you —” “Tell me about the day you made ‘Big Drip.’” “So I’m in the studio and, like, my man Toast was like, yo, this [expletive] send me these beats for you.” “Axl!” “I actually started making beats on my phone. I got a couple placements, you know?” “Off of your phone?” “Yeah, off my phone. I bought my computer when I started sending beats and stuff. I was like, you know, it’s time to upgrade. You know, I’m trying to get professional. Because I can’t be making beats on a phone all day.” “What was the first song you produced for a Brooklyn guy that really started popping off? Was it ‘Suburban?’” Rapping: “It’s a man down when we lurking. Pull up in all black we purging.” “Yeah, ‘Suburban,’ then ‘No Suburban.’” Rapping: “Better recognize who you’re dealing with. Run up, gun up, gonna be a death.” “So you did the diss and the response?” “Back to back.” “It’s so local. Like, you know what I’m saying? Like, the way — the subject matter. Everything they’re talking about was from what was going on in their neighborhoods. Like, literally outside of their house. [expletive] goes on, and they go in the studio, and they talk about what they’re doing with their friends.” “Had you ever been to New York when you started producing for New York guys?” “Nah. It was all through the internet.” “It’s insane to make the soundtrack to a city and a neighborhood —” “That you’ve never been to, right?” “How would you describe the Brooklyn drill sound that has developed over the last few years?” “Brooklyn drill is like, it’s like, a play off of Chicago drill, mixed with the U.K. drill.” “What Chicago artists were the New York guys looking at to take inspiration from?” “Chief Keef.” Rapping: “Bang, bang, bang. I’m gonna let this hammer blow, like —” “He basically kind of, like, started the foundation, and then it just developed and transformed into something else. It’s gonna become the new sound, you know? I think that it might rub off trap music, and this might be the new trap.” “Trap is just one — and it’s kind of like — I mean, I like trap. But I say it’s kind of, like, it’s kind of boring because it doesn’t move anywhere.” “How would a drill snare sound?” “It’s just like — and that’s how, obviously, everyone just, like, realizes that this is a drill beat, compared to trap.” [drill beat] “I like the bass — I like that the — bow, bow, bow.” [drill beat] “If you listen to the slides, they always — you’ve got to find those pockets to rap in, or to find a melody in those pockets. You know what I’m saying? So I feel like it challenges — not too many rappers can, you know what I’m saying, ride that wave?” “Do you remember what the first thing you laid down was on ‘Big Drip?’” “First thing I laid down? Big drip. Big drip! I fell in love with a lit bitch. Ayy! I mean, I hear the beat, I think about what was happening that day, and make it rhyme. So I was on my way to the studio, traffic stopped. My man, Sosa, got locked up. Yeah, yeah, bitch. Free Sosa. Geeked up. Geekin’. We winning, we on defense.” “I sent him, like, you know, simple beats, no beats all over the place, you know? Because like, he goes ad lib.” “Bow!” “He can put it anywhere. He’s, he’s unpredictable.” “Bow! So it’s like, a combination of what I’m saying and the rhythm. I said three swaggy things, so I have to say ‘ayy’ three times. Ayy, ayy, ayy! Bow! They lovin’ the style. They lovin’ the style. Send me the addy, I’m hunting ’em down. Send me the addy, I’m hunting ’em down.” “I knew it was a hit, because it was something different. And [unclear] was coming up at the time, as well. And I was like, yeah, this — this is going to be the news.” “At that point, people didn’t really believe, like, a lot, like drill could come mainstream. And then Pop Smoke jumped off.” Rapping: “Baby, welcome to the party. I hit the boy up and then I go skate in a ’Rari.” “Pop Smoke, he gave us hope, and it gave, like, the industry and the labels hope this could go mainstream.” “It don’t get more New York than Pop Smoke. You know what I’m trying to say?” “Any other artists coming out of Brooklyn that you’re jacking?” “Shout out Fivio Foreign.” “A dream of his was to bring this sound worldwide, and bring it mainstream. Like, it was very conscious.” “We dropped ‘Big Drip’ — it just started shooting.” Rapping: “Big drip! Big drip! I fell in love with a lit bitch. Ayy!” “Everybody was going crazy. Fivio, he’s telling cars in the streets, like, ‘Yo, that’s me on the radio.’” “Hold up! That’s your radio! Ayy, ayy, ayy!” “All the labels are calling. ‘Big Drip’ changed our lives.” [music] Crowd: “Bow! Bow, bow, bow, bow! Ayy! “Do you know if Drake heard of Axl Beats from ‘Big Drip?’” “Of course. When I spoke to him, I was like ‘Yo, let’s get an Axl beat — like, that sound, like, that’s the sound I’m looking for.” “He heard Brooklyn drill, and he came toward my direction.” “Axl.” “OVOXO link up, mandem drink up, me and the drillers. Hawk and Sticks and Cash and Baka, Gucci, P and Gilla.” “What do you think is the future of Brooklyn drill?” “I think it’s going to be mainstream.” “You’re on the same label as Adele and Beyonce.” “Right. That’s pretty good. Feels like a lot of pressure. Because I can’t, I can’t slip up. But I’m good at that. I’m good at that. I — I’m good at being smooth.” Rapping: “If you can keep a secret, we can all be happy. We can pose in a picture, but you better not tag me.” “Can you flip that around so I can see you?” “Is it a face interview?” “Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s a video.” “OK, let me get better lighting. I need better lighting.” “Is that going to get you through the virus?” “Yeah.” “There we go.” “Is this where you make your beats? Right in the laundry room?” “The laundry room?” “Because I saw the [expletive] hanging up in the background.” [laughter] “I just had this idea that I wanted it to bounce.” “I got the horses in the back.” [beatboxing] “Man, what’s the deal? Man, I’m coming through. It’s your girl, Lizzo.” [laughter]

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A hyper-local strain of hip-hop that started in Chicago was tweaked by bedroom producers in the United Kingdom before taking over Brooklyn. Now it’s the soundtrack to a summer of unrest. The latest episode of Diary of a Song breaks down “Big Drip,” one of drill’s defining anthems.
Credit…Ric Francis/Associated Press
Credit…Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times
Credit…Djeneba Aduayom for The New York Times
Credit…Andrea Morales for The New York Times
Credit…Benjamin Lowy

Sea lions are often referred to as “dogs of the sea.” On a small island off the Baja coast, where the playful animals populate every rocky outcropping, they live up to their nickname.


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