Body by Tion Wayne and Russ Millions has become the first drill song to claim the UK No 1 spot, in what has been described as a landmark moment for the rapidly growing music genre.
The catchy song that has inspired a number of viral social media trends, largely on TikTok, racked up 71,000 chart sales and 10.7m streams this week, powered by a remix featuring Bugzy Malone, Fivio Foreign, Darkoo, Buni, ArrDee and E1 and ZT.
The latest victory builds on significant commercial success for both Wayne, whose song I Dunno peaked at No 7, and Millions, whose song Gun Lean became the first drill track to make the Top 10 in 2019.
“It’s overwhelming. It hasn’t really hit me yet,” Millions said. “I was always aiming for that impact on the scene, but I didn’t know it was going to happen so soon.”
The latest chart triumph follows a string of successes for the embattled rap genre, including the song Ain’t It Different, featuring the British rappers Headie One, AJ Tracey and Stormzy, which peaked at No 2 last summer.
Martin Talbot, chief executive of Official Charts Company, described Wayne and Millions’ achievement as “a brand new high point for drill and perhaps the beginning of a new era for the official singles chart”.
For supporters, Body’s No 1 cements drill as one of the UK’s most vibrant homegrown music scenes in years, despite bans from the Metropolitan police and criticism that it fuels gang violence.
“I think drill music will get respected a lot more and people will listen to it,” said Millions. “Maybe this will show that drill isn’t about negativity. It’s about having fun, dancing, enjoying yourself.”
In 2018, the rapper Digga D was one of the first musicians in Britain to be given a criminal behaviour order controlling his creative output (the impact of this was explored in a documentary released last November). In 2019, the drill rappers Skengdo and AM received a suspended prison sentence for breaching a gang injunction, which prevented them from performing their song Attempted 1.0. According to the Index on Censorship, this was the first time in British history that a prison sentence was issued for performing a song.
TK, the co-founder of Finesse Foreva, the independent record label that manages Skengdo and AM, describes the success of Body as proof of drill’s huge mainstream potential. “Drill music is here to stay now. It’s going to be exciting to see what young kid takes the baton and runs with it.”
He added that social media platforms like TikTok have played a crucial role in pushing the genre to a wider audience. “It’s just made the genre more user friendly and more universal. Instead of seeing a music video with guys on the block in hoodies and stuff, you’re seeing how the music’s affecting young people and old people, and seeing what they take from it too.”
Millions has been a leading figure in the evolution of this party-oriented iteration of drill. The dance he performed in Gun Lean went viral and was performed by Premier League football players, and ranked in the Guardian’s list of “greatest pop music dance crazes”.
TK said as well as the song’s catchy lyrics, people are enjoying the beats in Body. “There’s a lot of talented young UK producers that’s helping move the whole music industry forward,” he said, such asKamron Lloyd Chevannes, 21, known as Gotcha, who produced Body and a number of other smash hits, including Gun Lean and Keisha & Becky, which peaked at No 7 on the chart.
“I’m still in shock. It doesn’t feel real. I would never have dreamed in my mind, ever in my life. I’m over the world right now,” said Chevannes, who is from south London. The song has the “same tempo that Russ likes to jump on”, he explained, “but it had a few more elements like strings and vocals that really brought it out. But I would say a lot of the funness, the vibe is mainly from the artists.”