Drill is a subgenre of Hip-hop that originated in Chicago, Illinois in the early 2010s. It is characterised by its dark, nihilistic lyrics, heavy use of Trap beats and auto-tune, and a menacing delivery style. It often addresses themes such as gang violence, poverty, and police brutality, and artists in the Drill Hip-hop scene include talents such as Chief Keef, G Herbo, and Lil Durk. This music style quickly spread to London, where it has a strong following.

Drill has gained popularity in recent years, and it has been associated with Hip-hop culture and the youth in Seoul, South Korea. That said, the country’s Drill scene borrows heavily from a British subgenre called UK Drill. The Korean lyrics often focus on themes of poverty and crime, and the beats are heavily influenced by Trap and Hip-hop music. While the number of South Korean Drill rappers is growing quickly, the subgenre itself still has to push hard to gain media attention, often overshadowed by the more popular genre of K-pop. 

Blase at the Garage in London
Blase at the Garage in London, Image © Maddie Armstrong for View of the Arts

Blase, whose music is often influenced by UK Drill, is one of the artists who bravely put the aforementioned subgenre on the market in his native country of South Korea. The artist began his career as a member of Roof Top in 2018, however, in the same year, he also debuted as a solo artist and released his debut EP, 0, with its title track Give Me Up.

Although he has an established career in the industry, his musical journey wasn’t the easiest one. “I have wanted to do music since I was in high school, but my parents disapproved, so I waited until I was an adult, finished my military service, and then started music”, Blase candidly admits when asked about his beginnings.

There is no denial that Blase knows how to create buzz around his music, always leaving a lasting impression when it comes to his live performances. And this was seen when the rapper came to London’s Garage to perform as JUNNY’s (a Korean-Canadian R&B singer-songwriter) guest artist on his European Tour in 2022. Blase electrified the crowd with his 40-minute set – this was his first time performing in London, and when I asked about his experience, he says without hesitation that “the London concert was great and if I get the chance, I would definitely go back and perform there again”.

Blase at the Garage in London
Blase at the Garage in London, Image © Maddie Armstrong for View of the Arts

Not long ago, Blase revealed a full-length album, MultrillVerse, a superb 14-track release that mixes Drill with other musical elements. Although UK Drill inspired this album, it is vital to point out that the artist does not copy the subgenre. On the contrary, he seamlessly combines different components of music genres, which include Jungle (dance music that developed out of the UK rave scene in the 1990s), Bass, and even Dancehall (popular Jamaican music that originated in the late 1970s).

“[While making MultrillVerse] I listened to many different genres of music, and I thought about how to make these different genres fit into the style and framework of Drill music. [Fortunately], since last year, there has been a rise in the Drill scene in South Korea, too”, Blase tells me, then continues, claiming that although the subject of his songs is important to him, he likes to “mostly focus on sound” because “you have to get people’s attention when they first listen to it [the song]”.

Blase at the Garage in London
Blase at the Garage in London, Image © Maddie Armstrong for View of the Arts

South Korea shines when it comes to Hip-hop artists, and Show Me the Money, a rap competition, has become the “voice” of those rappers. Blase himself participated in the show four times, including the latest season, SMTM 11, in which he reached the finals. 

“I didn’t plan on going on Show Me the Money so many times, but I was going to go until I got some results. Usually, artists give up easily, but SMTM helped me to stay on track and motivated me to work hard”, the rapper confesses. 

Like many other artists out there, everyone has doubts, feeling that enhancing one’s skill is a never-ending process, and that includes Blasé. “In the past, my [biggest] rival was myself, therefore, I always had to improve my skills. It was a bit harsh [at that time]”, the rapper says.

Blase at the Garage in London
Blase at the Garage in London, Image © Maddie Armstrong for View of the Arts

Although Blase hasn’t encountered any resistance from within the industry yet, he does keep his head up and confidently pushes forward with what he loves the most: making music. And while he keeps himself extremely busy, he mentions that if he could collaborate with any Drill or Grime artist from the UK, he would have to choose Central Cee as “he seems to have the freshest sound when it comes to Drill”.

Despite the fact that the rapper’s parents didn’t approve his dream of becoming a rapper when he was in high school, it turned out that Blase’s mother has become his biggest motivator and supporter.

Now that the artist is done with the promotional period of SMTM 11, he is ready to take on the world with new music. But what can we expect from Blase in 2023? To conclude our short chat, Blase says that “I think I’ll sign with a company for the first time. It would be good to look forward to some larger-scale projects”. And with that in mind, fans will definitely be rooting for Blase and looking forward to his new endeavour. 

Written and interviewed by Maggie Gogler

Translated by Korean London

View of the Arts is a British online publication that chiefly deals with films, music, and art, with an emphasis on the Asian entertainment industry. We are hoping our audience will grow with us as we begin to explore new platforms such as K-pop / K-music, and Asian music in general, and continue to dive into the talented and ever-growing scene of film, music, and arts, worldwide.

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General, In Conversation with, Korean Hip-Hop, Music

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