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Demon Time: How Drake Paid Homage to Brooklyn's Rising Drill Scene

Drake
Courtesy of Republic Records

Drake

What seemed to be just another ordinary day for Brooklyn rapper Sosa Geek quickly turned into one of his most memorable ones as he was woken up by a flurry of notifications about him receiving a follow from one of music’s biggest stars: Drake. Months later, he’d find himself with a placement on the 6 God’s newest project, Dark Lane Demo Tapes, alongside fellow Brooklyn rapper and good friend Fivio Foreign.

The project debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 despite it being a surprise May 1 drop. And its 13th track -- and the second single from the project -- the JB Made It-produced “Demons” left listeners craving a Brooklyn night out more than ever to properly break it in.

Geek first teased the collab back in February by posting a short clip to his Instagram that showed him and Fivio jamming to Drake’s verse on the song. “Demons” encapsulates hip-hop’s drill sound, which was born in Chicago and has since found homes in New York and the U.K. The Toronto rapper kept his ear close to the streets and tagged in Fivio and Sosa Geek to add their aggressive flair to his project, and both rappers and JB earned their first Hot 100 entry, as “Demons” went on to debut at No. 34. 

“Drake is a man of the art, so he appreciates the new sounds and new music. He’s always in tune with the music and the story behind it,” Fivio tells Billboard about Drake’s appreciation for the Brooklyn drill scene, which was already alive and booming thanks to artists such as 22Gz, Sheff G, and the late Pop Smoke leading the movement.

“He knew what he was doing,” adds Sosa Geek. “He didn’t get this far in his career by not knowing what he was doing. He saw two dudes in Brooklyn doing their thing. We made a movie. We made history, that’s it.”  

Everyone involved made sure representation of NYC’s culture is front and center on “Demons,” as Drake storms headfirst into the song’s ominous crescendo intro by declaring four words: both his guest rappers’ names and two Brooklyn slang terms. “The words he’s saying right in the beginning, ‘viral’ and ‘movie,’ those are my words,” says Geek, the originator of the ad-libs. “I got these words tattooed on my flesh.” 

“For Drake to show that type of love should remind people no one’s above showing support,” says Fivio. Endlessly thinking about ways to put on for the city that raised him, Fivio’s co-sign from a megastar reminds him of one of his main priorities: to always pay it forward to those coming up under him: “He’s a living legend. It humbles me and reminds me I’ll never be too big to show love. I know that feeling is unlike any other, and I really want to be that one day for other people coming up. It’ll be like ‘Damn, Fivi really rocks with me like that?’ And it’ll mean the world.”

Another person who is grateful is the man behind the boards, JB Made It, a South London-bred producer who has been a fan of Drake since his Room For Improvement mixtape released back in 2006.

JB, who also recently produced French Montana’s “That’s a Fact,” sees “Demons” as a culmination of both NYC and U.K. drill, allowing the genre to reach a new height. 

“As far as I’m concerned, Drake jumping on drill is one of the best things that could’ve happened for the genre,” says JB. “He’s a huge artist who’s tapping into a sound that has already blown up over here, and he’s helping to give it more international exposure.”

U.K.’s drill scene had been cooking up across the pond for a while, but it was far from an easy journey for artists to freely create within it as the genre was stifled since its inception.

“There was a massive legal war against the government because they wanted to shut everything down because of it, and we were some of the few people who were really pushing this drill sound,” JB explains. “They were really trying to hone in and do the mad ting. They wanted to pin the violence on something. It was a form of control from them.”

In 2018, as drill music was sweeping the U.K., judges began claiming the surge of violence in London was directly linked to the newly popular sound. The artists, producers, and creatives continued to persevere through the resistance, resulting in the U.K.'s current drill scene flourishing now more than ever before.

JB’s key to success is to simply never stop going, as his biggest opportunity yet was the light waiting for him at the end of his darkest tunnel. “Before this Drake feature came out, I was at rock bottom,” he reflects. “Then, this opportunity came out of nowhere. For the producers that may want to give up, you can’t because that’s how you lose. You don’t lose because you don’t get enough streams; you lose when you give up. Had I given up when things got rough, I wouldn’t have a track with my favorite rapper of all time.”

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