WHY I RATE: #98s

Selected by: Aaron Bishop

Name: #98s

Where They’re From: Hackney, East London

When They Started: 2011 - 2017

Genre: UK Drill

File Next To: Harlem Spartans, OFB, 150

Sounds Like: “Venomous, sophisticated, energetic, versatile, jumpy, motivational.”

First Track That Inspired Them: KO: “It was my peers in general, not just one song.” Billy Billions: “Michael Jackson’s ‘Billy Jean’.” V9: KO’s ‘Lie Like That’.” Mazza: “‘It’s Frying’ by LD(67).” Jimmy: “‘Giggs’ ‘Pain Is The Essence’.”

Despite the ongoing global pandemic, 2020 has been a good one for UK rap and drill. One such reason has been the emergence of the supergroup #98s, who released their Class Of 98s project to critical acclaim. Made up of ten of Hackney’s best and brightest drill artists—including the already established Unknown T, V9 and KO, alongside newer names like Stally, Mazza, Billy Billions, Jimmy, DA, Hitman and Alchubbino—each artist brings their own style and flavour to proceedings, similar to a blending of different ingredients coming together to create a five-star meal.

In spite of some of the usual drill tropes in terms of content, the energy of the tape comes across like a group of friends freestyling in the playground over beats they found on YouTube. As a result, it makes it fitting that the cover art, some of their videos and the marketing of the project features the group wearing school uniforms. As a collective, #98s grew up on everything from UK rap, grime and garage to R&B, hip-hop, bashment and reggae, and these influences are sprinkled throughout Class Of 98s on tracks like “Court Dates” and “3Flow”, moving away from the standard drill formula with production handled by the likes of M1OnTheBeat, Chris Rich, R14, X10 and more. This is something the group are sure to explore further moving forward, with the intention of this project more on establishing themselves in the scene.

Class Of 98s will go down as a real moment in the history of UK drill. They’re not the first drill crew and they won’t be the last, but never in the genre’s short history has there been a collective release delivered on this scope or scale. When asked about their next career goals, amongst putting out individual projects, the overriding one appears to be achieving chart success. While 2020 has not been the best of years in a general sense, if they can keep up the momentum they have gained so far, the charts are more than likely to see their names in 2021.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on December 22, 2020