Brian Jeck Declares That He Is Zimbabwe’s Drill King With Sizzling New EP ‘ZimDrillKing’ Filled With Urban Street Tales

By Tawanda Chari and Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza 

Drill, a hip-hop subgenre, is a style of trap music that originated in Chicago, USA. It is defined by its dark, violent and nihilistic lyrical content and ominous trap-influenced beats, as well as a fetish for newfound commodities/material wealth [given the hustling connotations].

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Brian Jeck asserts he is Zim's Drill King, being the face of Zero53Music.

The subgenre is strongly influenced by trap music, and is marked with a propensity for dark, slow atmospheres and a lyrical focus on the dangers of criminal activity or lack thereof. Drill music focuses on crime and the daily ordeals of life on the streets. In street slang, "drill" means to fight or retaliate, and can be used for anything deemed illegal. The beats tend to be of a slow tempo – usually 60 or 70 beats per minute. The rapping style isn't concerned with metaphors or punchlines and often has a very deadpan delivery.

For years, the complaints around rap have been fierce – both locally and globally. The narratives haven’t changed that much: the music [rap on the overall] is said to glorify violence, drugs, hedonism, misogyny, and criminal lifestyles. Even fans of the music can be critical; how many times have we heard an older rap fan criticize young rappers who “glorify” substance abuse?

Brian Jeck's ZimDrillKing is the latest offering in Zimbabwean Hip-hop and within the confines of Drill that chronicles tales of the urban streets, with heavy references of drug use [he seems to say that “we do not however condone abuse over this side”]. Brian pays homage to drug use and its irresistibly euphoric benefits. A listener may think that Brian Jeck is locked in a state of permanent inebriation. Earlier this year, Brian Jeck’s Tungidza Moto [Dior Cover] went viral on social platforms for its comical reference to substance use. And he wants to tell us that the leverage he got from such reaction is not ephemeral.

Do not get it twisted, the EP is palatable. The sonic soundscape and the technicalities of hip-hop and rap are amazing. Brian perfected drill and definitely had infinite fun recording that EP. He is the type of artist that would arrive at a random party, get on a mic and immediately wow the crowd. He's funny, he's entertaining and he’s authoritative in his raps. He becomes the centre of attention in how he delivers his art, whether it's skill or sheer entertainment value.

He exudes a thorough understanding of what is obtaining in urban contexts where most youths (in a combination of unbridled materialism/hedonism and lack of opportunities) have taken to substance abuse and ephemeral, insecure jobs in the informal market.

Songs with drug references almost unequivocally have themes related to glamour and wealth, emphasizing drug use as recreation or as an accompaniment to sex and ZimDrillKing is not an exception. There is also a trend for more recent songs to emphasise drug use as part of a criminal lifestyle. But at least what Brian Jeck gets right is accurately painting the picture of Zimbabwe’s urban settings – he delivers his raps from Chegutu but they apply, in equal measure, to any Zimbabwean urban setting, be it Masvingo, Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare, Kadoma, or Kwekwe.

Brian arranged his EP from drug talk on Tungidza Moto [Dior Cover] and Gaza to women and sex on Gee and MaSports. He mentions a wide array of substances -alcohol, crystal meth, codeine cough syrup, pills, marijuana, sanitizers. He is unapologetic. As well as sending a statement that small towns got it too. (In one of the releases on his YouTube channel, he pins Kadoma as a location.)

The closing track, Get It Started, shows a Brian Jeck who is painfully aware of Zimbabwe’s ailing economy, worsened by the Covid-19 induced lockdowns in which urban populations have few opportunities to have gainful employment. He is in a state of ambivalence – resignation and optimism – but he seems to tell the listener that marijuana is an effective remedy in these trying times, as well as “sipping on Zumbani.”

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Many rappers who grew up around drugs have positively portrayed substance use in their music [on the basis that drugs enhance artistic creativity]. However, in Zimbabwe, some young rappers and dancehall artists have detailed the consequences of addiction and mental illness in an effort to spread awareness and eliminate stigma related to substance use disorders.

In Zimbabwean contexts, drug use is more of a source of escapism. And Brian Jeck, declaring how he is the master of Drill in Zimbabwe, chronicles all these tales in this succinct EP – Tungidza motto my nigga.

It is a project that does not fail to register a remarkable, positive impression when first listening, though some may feel that his sound displays a certain uniformity. It is nonetheless a refreshing listening experience for hip-hop in Zimbabwe.

But well, download ZimDrillKing by Brian Jeck via this link on YaadUniverse Premiere and tell us what you think. 

Follow his YouTube channel via this link.

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