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What is drill rap and how has Jacksonville become the epicenter of it?

WARNING: The following article includes subject matter and links to music videos containing references to violence and language some may find offensive.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — * The above video was originally published April 12 when a Duval County judge sentenced a Jacksonville drill rapper to 10 years in prison.

It originated in Chicago’s South Side in the early 2010’s. Nearly a dozen years later, Jacksonville appears to be making inroads on becoming the epicenter of this disturbing branch of rap music.

What is drill rap?

The word “drill” in drill rap refers to killing. Drill songs are diss songs between rival gangs where the rapper mocks or disses “dead ops,” or members of rivals killed in gang violence.

Drill was made popular by Chicago rappers Chief Keef, Lil Reese, Lil Durk and some others. Brooklyn, New York and the United Kingdom followed.

Apparently, it’s Jacksonville’s turn.

South Florida has historically dominated the state’s rap music scene with names like Rick Ross, Uncle Luke, Trina, Trick Daddy, Plies, Kodak Black, and XXXTentacion.

A new generation of rappers from Jacksonville are demanding attention. And they’re getting it from both onlookers across the globe and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

They’ve become household names of sorts on the drill rap scene: Yungeen Ace, Foolio, SpotemGottem, Spinabenz, Whoppa Wit Da Choppa, Y&R Mookey, Y&R Slugga Tee, Jdot Breezy and Ksoo to name a few.

While their names appear together in the above sentence, most of them are anything but.

Jacksonville police have identified the city’s drill rappers as gang affiliated.

Messy music, sordid souls

Jacksonville rappers have been making drill rap for several years, but last year represented an explosion of this disturbing music here garnering attention from around the world.

Bloggers, podcasts and hip-hop writers around the globe put Jacksonville in their crosshairs in spring 2021.

That’s when rappers Spinnabenz, Whoppa Wit Da Choppa, Yungeen Ace and FastMoney Goon released “Who I Smoke,” a disturbing, but catchy sample of Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles."

The word “smoke” in the song’s title refers to “dead ops” or rival gang members killed in Jacksonville shootings. The rappers, self-proclaimed affiliates of the gang ATK, used the song to name the dead with the hook, “Who I smoke,” followed by the name of an “op."

ATK stands for “Aces Top Killers,” named for the undisputed champ of Jacksonville’s drill rap scene, Yungeen Ace. Other reports claim it stands for “Aim To Kill.”

ATK’s top rival, KTA, which reportedly stands for “Kill Them All,” released songs of its own in response to "Who I Smoke."

That’s when Julio Foolio, who has since dropped the “Julio” and is now just “Foolio,” released two mega viral songs; “Beatbox Remix/Bibby Flow” and “When I See You,” a remix of R&B singer Fantasia’s hit single “When I See U.”

In those song, Foolio, of course, drops the names of several ATK ops killed in Jacksonville’s street violence.

RELATED: Rival Jacksonville gangs locked in deadly battle glorified in new viral rap music videos

Rap music & rap sheets

Where are they now?

Jacksonville drill rappers continue making headlines, not just for the music they’re making, but for crimes police say they’re committing.

Here's what some of them are up to now.

Ksoo

Hakeem Robinson, aka Ksoo, was indicted by a grand jury March 24 of first-degree murder. He’s accused of killing two people in separate Jacksonville shootings; the Feb. 25, 2019 killing of Adrian Gainer Jr., aka Bibby, and the Jan. 15, 2020 killing of Charles McCormick, aka Lilbuck.

He’s currently in Duval County jail on no bond.

RELATED: Video: Jailed Jacksonville rapper handcuffed, slammed by JSO corrections officer, sister shot by bail bondsman within minutes

Credit: First Coast News
Hakeem Robinson, 22, (left) appeared in Duval County Court on June 24, 2021 for a pretrial hearing in the shooting deaths of two people in separate gang-related Jacksonville shootings. Robinson, a rapper who goes by the name Ksoo, is pictured on the right in one of his music videos.

Y&R Mookey, Y&R Slugga Tee

Tyler Jackson, aka Y&R Mookey and Tyler Simmons, aka Y&R Slugga Tee are the duo who referred to themselves at the “Murda Twinz.”

Jackson was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Simmons was convicted on the same charged in January and is serving seven years.

Both men were arrested in January 2019 as part of a sting Jacksonville Sheriff's Office called Operation Rap Up. The operation targeted alleged gang members who were glorifying guns, drugs and drive-by shootings on social media and in rap music videos, Sheriff Mike Williams said. Y&R stands for Young and Ruthless and is associated with the KTA gang.

Credit: Murda Twinz music video
Tyler Jackson, aka Y&R Mookey, (left) Tyler Simmon, aka Y&R Slugga Tee (right) a screen shot of them in their viral music video Murda Twinz.
Credit: Jacksonville Sheriff's Office
Tyler Jackson, aka Y&R Mookey (left), Tyler Simmons, aka Y&R Slugga Tee (right). The men, who called themselves the "murda twinz" have been convicted of possession of a firearm by convicted felons. Both have been sentenced to prison.

Foolio

Foolio, who real name is Charles Jones, was arrested April 8 and charged with felony fleeing following a traffic stop on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Jacksonville police said. He was released on $10,000 bond and is currently on house arrest.

He also made headline in November 2021 after being grazed by a shooters’ bullet in Jacksonville’s Riverside area where he said he was at a recording studio. Foolio later took to Instagram to taunt his assailants saying, “Y’all miss a whole 100 shots literally.”

RELATED: 'Y’all miss a whole 100 shots literally' | Jacksonville rapper Foolio survives another shooting

Credit: Screenshot YouTube video "When I See You"
Jacksonville rapper Julio Foolio sits in front of a banner with the photos of three teens in his latest video "When I See You." The teens, Tre'von Bullard, Royale D'Von Smith Jr., and Jercoby Da'Shad Groover were killed in a June 2018 mass shooting. Julio Foolio mocks their deaths in his video.

SpotemGottem

SpotemGottem, is best known for his 2020 single “Beat Box” which peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot100. He was shot in the hip on Interstate 95 in Miami in September 2021 when a vehicle pulled up alongside the Dodge Challenger he was in and fired 22 times. A passenger in the vehicle was also injured and was shot in the legs.

SpotemGottem, whose real name is Nehemiah Lamar Harden, was arrested a month before the shooting in an Aventura hotel room after being accused of an assault involving a deadly weapon in South Beach, according to a report by WPLG-TV Miami.

Credit: BeatBox video screen shot
SpotemGottem in his video BeatBox which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Yungeen Ace

Yungeen Ace was targeted in a 2018 shooting that resulted in the deaths of three men he was riding in a car with in Jacksonville’s Town Center area. He was targeted in another shooting in March 2019 at a Georgia hotel where another man was killed. Ace, whose real name in Kenyata Bullard was arrested on weapons charges and eventually released.

During an interview on a Texas radio station in June 2021, Ace told a DJ he now lives in Houston.

The DJ asked Ace if he returns to Jacksonville to perform in his hometown. "The police won't let me," he said. "They don't want me coming out there doing shows."

Credit: 'ATK War' (feat. Ksoo) [Official Music Video]
'ATK War' (feat. Ksoo) [Official Music Video] screenshot

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