Homerton native V9 burst onto the scene in 2018 with his debut single “Glide”. Currently sitting at just over 200,000 views, the track was a raw street anthem which foreshadowed V9’s dramatic rise to the upper echelons of the drill scene. Sporting an iconic Deadpool-inspired mask whilst rapping in aggressive barks over a gruesome Chubz production, V9 gave a glimpse of what was to be expected from his future releases. What followed was a life-changing year, in which tracks such as “Tiger Woods”, “DMC”, and “Japan” illustrated clearly his intentions to leave his own distinct mark on the UK drill scene. V9 was cultivating a loyal fanbase who were inexplicably struck by the combination of his enigmatic persona, artistic creativity, and relentless brand of drill music. One track took V9 to a whole new level though; the release of “Charged Up” confirmed V9 as an undeniable star of the drill scene, reaching over 4 million views and going down in history as an indisputable street anthem.
V9’s trajectory appeared to be relatively simple going forward – he would continue to release his own brand of aggressive and raw drill music. His beat selection never seemed likely to stray left field, with his preference for old school, unembellished production markedly consistent throughout his first year of releases. Simply, fans and critics alike believed they knew what to expect musically from a V9 track.
This all changed with the release of “Kids Next Door”, a track that established how important selecting unique and intriguing productions was to V9. Gone was the chilling, dark sonical world he had come up in; instead it was replaced with a colourful, melodic, and frankly more artistic palette of sounds. With V9 set to release his new project Murk With a Mouth on Friday, we took a look at the timeline of V9’s beat selections, analysing his decisions not only as a rapper but as a holistic artist. We’re going to start right at the beginning, with “Glide” – V9’s debut single back in January 2018.
“Glide” was V9’s introduction to the drill scene as an artist. For fans who had no context at all to what they were seeing and watching, there was a lot to take in. Chubz set the scene for the track with a gruesome production typical of drill at the time, combining haunting chord progressions with thumping 808s and syncopated hi-hats. V9 showcased for the first time his ability as a rapper, spitting venom-laced threats to his opposition whilst dropping real insight into his crazy life. To top it all off, V9 was wearing a Deadpool-inspired mask; creating an aura of intrigue over this Homerton native.
What kind of drill rapper wears a mask inspired by a Marvel hero? Thus, at this stage the allure of V9 to drill fans at the time was multi-faceted, but probably mainly leaning towards his distinct appearance. It was certainly not founded primarily in his beat selection as it would come to be later on in his career. “Glide” can be looked back on as the reference point for the type of instrumentals V9 would jump on throughout the first year and a half or so of his career. Whilst V9 would go on to make much bigger songs, such as “Japan”, “Charged Up” and “Andy and Dwight”, they all fit within this same sonical world of macabre, stripped-back drill. It wasn’t until “Kids Next Door” that everything would change with regards to V9’s musical direction.
“Kids Next Door”
By the middle of 2019, it seemed V9 had carved his own space within the current drill scene. He was known for his distinct mask, visceral lyrics and combative delivery. What he was not known for was his beat selection. “Kids Next Door” changed this perception completely; sparking considerable debate amongst fans and critics alike about V9’s music and the scene at large.
Produced by S.K.I.T.Z Beatz, the instrumental was entirely different to anything V9 had ever rapped on, incorporating peaceful synth-led melodies over noticeably subtle percussion and bass lines. Gone were the booming 808s and relentless hi-hats, creating an entirely new setting for V9 to rap within. What caught the attention of listeners across the world, even more, was the juxtaposition of the beat against the rapping of V9; by selecting such a calm beat but maintaining his trademark aggression fuelled delivery, V9 managed to create a track which could not be simply boxed into a genre. It combined an eclectic range of inspirations to great effect, creating a track that some would describe as esoteric and groundbreaking, and others would describe as an example of why drill rappers should not branch out of their lanes.
ProdbyWalkz, a close friend of V9’s, actually made clear in his reaction video to the track that he was not at all a fan of the beat; he couldn’t understand why fans enjoyed hearing V9 on such a different beat. This sentiment was certainly shared by more than a few fans, particularly at the time of release, but after over two years of being released, it appears “Kid’s Next Door” has stood the test of time. The comments on the video are overwhelmingly positive now, and the track has over a million views, placing it in the upper echelons of V9’s catalogue in terms of the scale of the reaction.
No one knew it at the time, but “Kids Next Door” was much more than just a lone experiment; it was the first single for V9’s new project Yudokuna. This project was an 11 song presentation of how well V9 could slide on diverse beats. In reality, all 11 songs give their own unique insight into V9’s beat selection, but “Gasoline” is a perfect example of how left-field V9 was willing to go from the sound of his breakout tracks.
Tapping YK and Itchy for the production this time, V9 rides a wavey trap beat packed with delightful guitar licks and short, bouncing 808’s reminiscent of the Atlanta trap wave. Combined with suave, effortless vocals from fellow 98’s member Billy Billions and V9’s own trademark aggressively endearing bars, this track sounds like an intriguing fusion of multiple worlds of rap music coming together.
At this point, it would be easy to point out that V9 is not necessarily deserving of credit for the production used on his songs; indeed he did not produce “Gasoline” himself. But to make this argument is to miss the point; V9’s true skill outside of rapping and marketing is his ability to think like a musical director, brainstorming ways in which to diversify his musical output whilst still maintaining his Homerton essence. It would be incredibly facile for V9 to not take these sonical risks, and continue rapping over the same beats he did in 2018. The fact he is willing to, speaks volumes for his integrity as an artist as well as his overarching vision for his ultimate legacy.
As I already mentioned, Yudokuna was an exhibition of how well a drill rapper could rap on an experimental beat selection. Another track that illustrated the extent of V9’s attention to his production was “Hello Hi”, this time with fellow Homerton rapper Jimmy. Whilst “Gasoline” tapped the dirty south of Atlanta, “Hello Hi” was more sonically rooted in the UK, incorporating the trademark sliding 808s and syncopated hi-hats.
Having said this, V9 still managed to select a beat that was completely different from what else was coming out of the drill scene at the time. Sampling “Sirens” by Dizzee Rascal to create an inexplicably peaceful top melody line that transports the listener to some sort of drill heaven, this production is a coming together of the new and the old. Looking back on this song, it is clear it was way before its time; one only needs to look at the prevalence of melodic drill beats now to understand how avant-garde this sonical direction was at inception.
“Hole in One“
In June earlier this year, right in time for summer, V9 and Billy Billions dropped yet another musically progressive banger, “Hole in One”. Part of what had allowed V9 to stay so sonically ahead of his contemporaries since “Kids Next Door” was his proximity to the underground producer scene. This time it was the turn of the relatively unknown Morts to handle production for V9.
Morts creates a musical world not dissimilar to “Hello Hi”; the beat once again is a fascinating blend of classic drill trademarks in both the 808s and hi-hats with joyous melodies over the top. However, the beat for “Hole in One” is even sweeter and carefree, setting the perfect tone for its release last summer. It is both gritty enough for V9 and Billy to attack the beat whilst also being sanguine enough for moments of cheek and charisma from both rappers to shine through.
“Hole in One” is the debut single for V9’s new project, Murk With A Mouth, out on Friday. If this single is anything to go by, this project will once again allow V9 to demonstrate his artistic skill outside of simply just rapping and donning his signature mask. V9 has existed in his own musical lane for a long time now, and hopefully, this project only further cements this status in the mainstream.
Murk With A Mouth is out this Friday on all streaming platforms. Make sure to pre-save the album below and be sure to keep it locked on GRM for any further V9 content.