Exclusives 28 April 2021
Author: Oli Knight

GRM Exclusive: The M24 Blueprint

28 April 2021
The M24 Blueprint

Since his emergence into the UK scene in 2017, M24 has proven to be a riddle which the wider UK Drill audience has struggled to fully decipher. At times commended for his unique voice and presence on the microphone, whilst also vulnerable to criticisms of recycled lyrical content and redundant flows, the story of M24 to the top of UK Drill has not been a simple story of instant success and gratification.

However, it is now clear that after a musical journey that has spanned nearly four years, M24 has emerged as a certified drill artist who is here to stay. Since the beginning of 2019, M24 has embarked on an incredibly consistent run of releases, cementing himself as an established figure within the current UK drill scene. There is far more to the story of M24, however, than an artist who has risen to prominence through just releasing consistently. M24 has demonstrated a keen self-awareness of the way his fans receive his music, a trait that has allowed him to release a lot of music, but not too much so as to saturate his sound. In addition to this self-awareness, M24 has an ability relatively unique to his compatriots within the drill scene; to branch outside of the genre with ease, providing various sonical approaches and vibes for his fans. 

It helps that M24’s music is intrinsically recognisable; his signature “Uh Uh” adlibs, complete with a trademark aggressive delivery and undeniable skill in crafting catchy hooks has cemented him as a very real force within the current scene. This unique combination of important musical skills, and a keen eye for the world of business surrounding the music industry, has placed M24 in a position of unique comparative advantage to his peers, and as his recent success indicates, he appears to be capitalising. 

In April 2017, “So Chatty” with Slapit24, Tookie, and JBoy dropped. This was the world’s first introduction to M24 as a rapper, and largely, people were impressed with what they saw. His distinct voice and delivery (which would come to be his trademark assets) were praised to a large extent, with fans also pointing out his ability to slickly pepper his verses with engaging bars here and there. It was clear M24 was raw, but even more clear that he had immense potential to go far in the UK drill scene, which at the time was still very much in its infancy.

After “Rebels”, M24 went on to release further statements of his intent to become a genuine force within the drill scene, with tracks such as “Smokey Things” with Stickz, “No Returns” with Skatloose, Slapit24, and FG, and finally “Do it and Crash” with Skengdo and AM, which would mark M24’s first collaboration with established drill artists. All of these tracks, but particularly “Do it and Crash” ensured that 2017 laid solid foundations for the future success of M24’s career as a drill rapper. Released on the 22nd of December, “Do it and Crash” would go on to record over 2.5 million views, and marked the moment that people started to really take notice of the work M24 was putting in, as his more than stellar performance on a track with two of the most respected drill artists in the scene at the time ensured. 

It was not only in the sense of natural progression though that 2018 was important for M24; it also offered him the opportunity to experiment with his sound before he received mass attention, giving him vital training days to curate his style before he blew up. This experimentation was most pronounced on both “Trap and Bang” and his “Next Up”, albeit in different ways. “Trap and Bang”, with Slapit24, saw M24 debut a sonical approach that he would come to occasionally utilise; a sort of half-singing melodic flow for the chorus, that had not really been heard before in the UK drill scene. Combined with a verse in which he dropped the melodic flair for a harder, more aggressive delivery reminiscent of his previous releases, fans responded well to this switch-up, noting M24’s potential to blow in the scene. As a result of the prominence of this style in later tracks such as “Obbo is Real” and “Morning”, this track can be seen as an important moment in which M24 first received plaudits for this particular style.

M24’s “Next Up” is another example of this process of experimentation M24 undertook in 2018. The jumpy, almost poppy beat which he rapped on was similar sonically to “Do it and Crash” with Skengdo and AM; yet it appears that this process of experimentation ended with M24 deciding these beats were not for him. Since this “Next Up”, M24 has refrained from rapping on such beats, demonstrating how 2018 was a year in which M24 was able to trial different sonical approaches and therefore curate a sound that suited him, before he emerged into the spotlight in 2019. The value of this period cannot be underestimated; many rappers who have blown up with some of their earliest music have faltered to successfully follow their breakout single, as they are still yet to fully understand their own sound and vision. This leads to bright talents burning out fast, as they are unable to maintain the quality of their breakout single, and their first attempts at diversifying their sound are under the microscope of attention and expectation. Therefore, 2018 was invaluable to laying strong foundations for the future success of M24’s career; foundations he would need in 2019, the defining year of M24’s career so far. 

2019 for M24 kicked off in May, with the release of his episode of the “Mad About Bars” series. M24 used this platform to make a clear statement to the masses; that he was not simply a drill rapper, but a rapper capable of stepping into other genres, capable of subtly adapting his musical approach. Splitting his performance into two parts, the first half sees M24 shell an ice-cold drill beat courtesy of L1 Productions, reasserting his undeniable skill within the genre after nearly 6 months since his last release. Where the first half was a reassertion of his skills, the second half was a showcase of what had been up until this point largely a hidden talent; his ability to rap on melodic, uptempo rap beats which differ largely from the drill beats he was so associated with at the time.

Rapping with poise and charisma over an island-inspired beat, even offering subtle melodies towards the end of the performance, M24 made a clear statement of his intent to offer different genres of music for his fans. Whilst it is true that more and more drill rappers today are looking to branch out into other genres, for a variety of reasons, M24 was one of the first of his time to really take the step out of his comfort zone. Despite the commercial success and high quality of his “Mad About Bars”, it would appear that this second half was merely a teaser for the future, a sample of something M24 would go on to present properly to his fans much later, as his next few releases would take the form of the more conventional drill songs he had been traditionally renowned for.  

These two songs were “Luke Cage”, released in June 2019, and “We Don’t Dance” which was released only a month later. Both of these tracks, but particularly “We Don’t Dance” were life changing for M24. “We Don’t Dance” has received over 23 million views to date, and whilst “Luke Cage” has not reached similar relatively astronomical heights for a UK drill music video, it is still currently sitting at just over 6 million views, no mean feat. Whilst M24 had certainly experienced success prior to the release of this pair of tracks, he was generally accumulating youtube views in the region of 400,000 to 600,000; admirable for an upcoming drill rapper but not representative of the talent M24 clearly possessed.

Whilst the scale of the success of “We Don’t Dance” was undoubtedly surprising, upon critically analysing the song and the music video it appears it was always poised to be the most successful song of M24’s career to date. From the extremely catchy hook laced with M24’s signature adlibs, to the ominous production of AbzontheBeat and Hargo Productions, to the classic verse fellow 150 member Stickz provides, this song was the perfect introduction of M24 to a more mainstream audience. Something about the hook captivated people, with in particular the line “She wanna dance with the GBG’s…Honey we don’t dance!” cemented as a part of UK drill culture forever. Whilst the majority of the success of this track is down purely to how hard hitting and catchy it is, it would be naive to not note the impact that the initial success of “Luke Cage” had in fuelling momentum regarding M24’s music at the time. Released only a month before “We Don’t Dance”, “Luke Cage” bore many of the sonical traits which would be present in the overwhelmingly successful “We Don’t Dance”, with an excellent production provided by Ghosty combining to great effect with M24’s aggressive delivery and ability to create memorable hooks.

As a result of the sheer success of both “Luke Cage” and “We Don’t Dance”, the average listener to the UK drill scene felt compelled to pay attention to the releases which succeeded these tracks. Songs such as “Verbal”, “Ay Caramba”, and “Riding” capitalised on and continued much of the sonical experience of “Luke Cage” and “We Don’t Dance”, combining catchy choruses with raw lyrical content and solid flows. Partly due to being released in the immediate aftermath of “We Don’t Dance” and “Luke Cage”, but mainly due to the consistency of both the frequency, and quality, of each release, every song comfortably cleared a million views, with “Riding” in particular doing well, sitting at nearly 5 million views to date.

Despite this hot streak of releases, which saw M24 become the talk of the town in the contemporary UK drill scene, there were still murmurings of criticism surrounding his music. Some critics saw his music as unoriginal, others saw it as boring due to the lack of flashy lyrical content in comparison to the high standard of bars set by other upcoming drill rappers at the time. Whatever the motivation, M24 realised the demand from fans to slightly pivot in his sonical approach, and thus his “Drip N’Drill” movement, which would become the name of his debut tape, was initiated.

The release of “Obbo Is Real” saw M24 take a massive musical risk, swapping a proven formula of success in the form of releasing songs such as “We Don’t Dance”, “Riding” and “Luke Cage” for a sound which he had comparatively very little experience rapping over. Whilst this track did not garner the views that the aforementioned songs did, there was an outpour of positive feedback from fans, commending his versatility and unexpected penchant for throwing in the odd melody here and there.

M24 continued to release music that demonstrated a clear pivot from the straight drill sound he had initially risen to prominence with, releasing “Dance With Smoke”, a song that married the sweet melodies of “Obbo Is Real” with the charismatic delivery and catchy lyrics his drill releases had come to be associated with. This was the true original culmination of the Drip’n Drill sound he would champion in the year to come, resulting in him influencing a new generation of drill rappers who saw the artistic potential the genre had to offer.

Since the start of 2020, M24 has demonstrated his sonical variety throughout his releases, ranging from what would have undoubtedly been club anthems in “London” with Tion Wayne and “Dumpa” with Ill Blu and Unknown T, staple Drip N’Drill tracks such as “Peter Pan” and “No Cap” and more introspective tracks such as “Xabsi” with Rimzee, and “Too Much Pride”. Bombarding his fans with such a consistent output of diverse musical content has ensured the breakthrough moments of 2019 do not overshadow his successive releases, as can often be the case for upcoming rappers. 

By the turn of 2020 M24 had established himself as a perennial force within the current UK drill scene, proving how artists who appear in danger of going stale can pivot slightly, offering something fresh for expectant fans, and succeed in doing so.

However, the tracks released after “No Cap” portrayed a clear acknowledgment of the criticisms of his fans, with his instalment of the Daily Duppy series, along with “Dumpa” and “Peter Pan” following the track and receiving a much warmer reception. In fact, to immediately follow “No Cap” less than a month after, with his instalment of Daily Duppy itself appears a strategic move, as the platform allows M24 to remind his fans of his technical ability to curate tight flows and clever punchlines in light of releasing a song which did little to reinforce either skill.

Rapping over a halftime piano and thumping percussion produced by M1OnTheBeat, M24 proceeds to rap straight bars for three minutes, never pausing for air or daring to utter an attempt at a catchy chorus. This felt like a defiant nudge to his fans and the wider UK drill scene, demonstrating his intent to maintain his position within the scene and reminding the scene of his technical abilities, which were so instrumental in his meteoric rise in the first place. Once again, M24 had demonstrated an acute ability to react and adapt to the mood amongst his fans, and in doing so ensuring the maintained viability of his career. 

However, this Daily Duppy was not forecasting a permanent return to a more raw, original drill sounds, as proven by the sonical diversity both “Dumpa” and “Peter Pan” possess in comparison. “Dumpa” consists of a unique collection of sounds melded together by legendary producer duo Ill Blu, tapping an iconic sample of Vybz Kartel’s “Dumpa Truck” for the core of the chorus, which M24 peppers with his signature adlibs before adding lyrics of his own to create a truly catchy hook. In addition, this track was the first collaboration between M24 and Unknown T, adding an extra level of hype for a track that was already destined to be well received by fans.

The release of Drip N’Drill in August last year marked an important moment in the career of M24. For an artist often billed as being a feature artist, known for his consistency, but not necessarily his artistic or conceptual thought, this could have been seen as a surprising choice, but M24 used this project to assert how he appears destined to be so much more than just a feature artist. Rapping over a multitude of genres, from classic drill beats on tracks such as “The Hood”, “Come Again” featuring Stickz and “Sweet 1” to melodic drill beats such as “Drip N Drill”, “Deli” featuring Tookie, and “Peter Pan”, and finally melodic rap beats such as “Passion” “Intro” and “Morning”.

This is not a perfect project, and there are points at which one could argue it could have been more concise, yet there is no denying that it effectively illustrates the versatility of M24 and his broad sonical vision for his music. Two songs that are on complete opposite ends of the musical spectrum on this project are “Morning” and “Deli” featuring Tookie; yet somehow M24 is able to execute standout performances on both. “Morning” sees M24 swap his regular delivery for an autotune-based melodic flow, with M24 crooning over an exquisite production by Laka Beats, whilst also demonstrating his ability to revert with ease to his signature aggressive rapping delivery. Overall, Drip N’Drill is a solid exhibition of the talent and skill of M24, especially when placed in comparison to “Deli” featuring Tookie.

If “Morning” was another example of M24’s ability to step outside of his perceived comfort zone and experiment with different sonical approaches, “Deli” is a clear reminder of his ability to still shell a drill beat just like he did back in 2017. Relentlessly trading bars with fellow 150 member Tookie, M24 makes it look easy as he flexes his successes and laughs at his opps. Overall, this project was a good illustration of the wide range of music that M24 identifies his craft with, asserting clearly that he is not just a drill rapper. 

Since the release of his debut project, M24 has hit another purple patch of form in terms of single releases, with numerous memorable features on tracks from the likes of Rimzee, Morrison, and Pete & Bas, with each individual feature asserting the skill of M24 in distinct ways. For example, on “The Old Estate” with Pete & Bas, M24 opens the track with the skill and flair of a veteran, perfectly setting up the song for Pete & Bas. Throughout this feature, all of the trademark elements of an M24 verse are present, with his classic aggressive delivery and relentless flow punctuated by his signature “Uh Uh” adlibs, providing a platform for Pete & Bas to build on, and in doing so playing his part in ensuring the success of the overall track.

“Gulag” with Morrison offers another hard-hitting feature from M24, with Morrison and M24 trading bars, celebrating their success as they emerge from the “Gulag”, a metaphor for the trials and tribulations they have experienced throughout their life. From the moment Morrison creeps into the track, repeating “Fresh out the Gulag” as an elegant, yet mean production by Harry James is about to drop, it is clear that this song is a certified banger. Morrison and M24 demonstrate a large degree of chemistry throughout this song, with M24’s adlibs accentuating Morrison’s hook to great effect.

Since this impressive run of features in the late months of 2020, M24 has continued to release music at an impressive frequency. Ranging from standout features on tracks with the likes of Fivio Foreign in January to impressive solo cuts such as “Too Much Pride”, M24 has continued to maintain an impressive combination of consistent output for his fans at a high quality. “Too Much Pride” in particular stands out; released on the 3rd of December, 2020, M24 demonstrates an extension of the introspective lyrical content he showed he was capable of on songs like “Xabsi”. Rapping triumphantly over a piano-led rap beat, M24 enters his first verse with “Aged 16 used to dream of this life/ Now my diamonds bright like a beam in the night”. This line sets the tone for the track, as M24 proceeds to break down the realities of his life, speaking on the importance of loyalty, reflecting on where he has come from, and all of the distinct ways in which he has “Too Much Pride”. The song marked an undeniable progression in M24’s art, as he made clear his versatility as an artist extended to the ability to make heartfelt, genuinely introspective music.

The rise of M24 could easily be misinterpreted as generic to the UK drill scene; just another drill rapper who has risen to prominence off the back of a viral track. Instead, M24 has an undeniable business mindset which, in conjunction with his musical ability has given him a comparative advantage over his peers, who are often neither able to sustain as consistent a work rate as M24, or to release music as diverse as M24 whilst still maintaining a high level of quality.

More specifically, this business mindset M24 possesses has manifested through his focus and dedication to releasing music consistently to his fans, whilst also being keenly aware of the reception his music garners. This has ensured he doesn’t saturate his fans, despite the fact that he releases so much music; as he is constantly adapting his sound so as to offer something fresh and engaging to his listeners. As a result of this musical malleability, some may argue that M24 is not a true artist as his artistic direction is not driven by his own vision, but by the demands of his fans. They may question his artistic skill, and label his music as lacking the conceptual thought required to make genuine rap music. However, I would argue that in actual fact this sonical flexibility and self-awareness serves him extremely well, allowing him a competitive edge over his peers in the pursuit of the release of music that consistently resonates with his core fan base.

M24’s ability to combine his musical talent with a keen awareness of what his fans want has put him in a unique position within the current scene. Only time will tell if M24 can sustain this level of success, but if the run he’s been on since “Luke Cage” is anything to go by, M24 has no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.

Check out our definitive list of European drillers doing their thing right here.