After drill music took control of New York City, the producers behind the movement wanted to globalize it.
AXL Beats and 808 Melo, two producers who are behind many of Brooklyn Drill’s biggest hits with artists like Pop Smoke, Fivio Foreign, Sheff G and 22Gz, frequently talk about how they want to expand the sound of drill and generalize it.
“I could see big rappers jumping on it [drill beats]AXL told me last December, shortly after producing ‘War’ for Drake. “Gunna jumping on a drill would be insane. It would wow everyone. If Young Thug is jumping on a workout pace, it would. would change everyone’s mind.
When I spoke with Melo in March, he enthusiastically explained how Nav’s rap on exercise rhythms pushed the possibilities of the subgenre. “I hope it will continue to grow,” he added. “I hope it becomes the most important thing in rap. Literally side by side with trap music.
But what if the sound was even more stretched than that? What if a soul singer was recording on an exercise beat? What if a rock band sang during an exercise?
Enter Blaccmass, a promising producer who goes viral for mixing drilling beats with classic songs from artists like Earth, Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson and Nirvana. Whether you love mixes or hate them, they hint at the exercise music possibilities that AXL and Melo keep talking about.
The Atlanta musician started mashuping in 2017, but he’s gaining more attention than ever this summer with mixes that use Brooklyn beats. “I don’t know what it’s like with those New York exercise rhythms, but they sound like another world,” he tells Complex. “You can listen to the beats on their own and they’ll sound like a whole song on their own. Hypothesizing why drill rhythms lend themselves so well to mashups with other genres, he adds, “The simplicity of drill rhythms gives artists enough space to shine on the beat. They give them enough space to do what they need to do.
On August 26, he uploaded his most successful mix to date: a mix of Earth’s 1979 classic “September”, Wind & Fire on a boring beat. The 55-second clip immediately went viral on Twitter, prompting Blaccmass to upload a full version to SoundCloud as “Earth, Woo & Fire.”
Blaccmass attributes the success of the mashup to an inherent element of surprise. People don’t expect Maurice White’s iconic vocals to pair so well with the haunting, slippery bass that anchors most drill beats. “Everyone is like ‘What ?! How could this work? ” he says. “Imagine reading this on paper: Earth, Wind and Fire, ‘September’ drilling version. On paper, that sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It doesn’t seem like it should work.
A day after downloading it, the mix was sent to members of Earth, Wind & Fire and Blaccmass received DMs from the band’s official Twitter account. “Hey, we love this ‘September’ remix,” they said. wrote. “We immediately felt the connection. This bridge between the old and the new is a magical place. Keep building.
“It was crazy,” Blaccmass said, recalling the interaction. “I didn’t expect them to like him so much. When I was talking to them, they understood what I was trying to do with the sound and to move the music forward. And it did me good to know that a legendary band like them understands it. It was super humiliating. “
Of course, not everyone is a fan of these blends. In addition to the praise, there has been a lot of criticism from people who think that these songs should not be played with. Some people don’t like the idea of someone re-imagining modern exercise music or classic material from the past. In response, Blaccmass said, “When people come there, they either hate it or they love it because they have an emotional baggage with the song.”
He did, however, receive positive words from people close to Pop Smoke. Blaccmass says Pop’s close friend Mike Dee reached out after hearing Michael Jackson’s mix and asked if he could get the full version. AXL Beats, who worked closely with Pop Smoke, also reached out to Blaccmass and praised him for his work.
“AXL saw what I was trying to do with music and erase genres,” Blaccmass notes. “I want a musical landscape where there are no genres and where there is only music. Everything can work.
After hearing this, I texted AXL and asked him what he thought of the Blaccmass mixes. His answer ? “He’s a game changer.”
Blaccmass says there’s a bigger mission behind these mashups than just making cool sounds. He wants to completely blur the boundaries between genres.
“By the time I’m done doing what I’m doing, hopefully the music will be changed in such a way that you can’t say, ‘It’s a pop song, it’s a reggae song, and so on. ‘is a rap song, ”he explains. “It’s just a song. And no matter what flavors are mixed in it, it works. It will be widely accepted. it will change Billboard. It’s gonna change the Grammys. It will change all that. And I hope it will unite people as one. Every person of every nationality can hear this song because they like a certain part of the song. And another person likes a certain part of that song, because of the merging of the two genres. It will unite some people. This is my main goal.
Before discussing his mix-making process, Blacmass wants to explain how his brain works when listening to music. “The way my brain works, I tend to hear two songs at once in my head,” he says. “I don’t know why, but that’s how it works. I’ll listen to a song by Uzi, and another beat might start playing in my head. And I’ll be like, ‘Oh, snap, that might work.’ Then I’ll go to my computer, and try to find the official instrumentals on YouTube. But if I can’t find them, I’ll see if the producers left an instrumental pocket in the song. If there is enough for me to loop it, I will, because I don’t like using really bad remakes that a lot of people use.
Blaccmass says he often uses boring rhythms that are done by his “favorite producer right now”, Saint Cardona. “He’s the one who is mainly behind all the mixes I do, because his beats just work by magic,” he explains. He used a Saint Cardona instrument in one of his most recent success stories, “Smells Like Teen Drill”, which combines Kurt Cobain’s vocals on the Nirvana classic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with a rhythm of growling exercise. He has since uploaded a full version to his SoundCloud page.
If you’re looking for more complete versions of these blends, you’re in luck. Some of them will end up on a new project that should arrive within a week or two.
“I’m releasing an album called Star seed, and I feel like this is the launching pad for the next level of my career, ”said Blaccmass. “This album contains a whole bunch of songs without genre, like country and pop exercises. There are all kinds of sauces in one package for people to experience.