A Tropical Takeover: The Steel Drum In Hip-Hop

USA – By now, you’ve probably heard “ZEZE,” the tropical banger that marks Kodak Black’s second track since his release from prison. It’s production, by way of D.A. Doman, has a distinct island feel with the steel drum playing heavily into the song’s composition. The cover art depicts as much, with the ski-mask-wearing Kodak perched atop a secluded miniature island, backed by palm trees. The steel pan, or drum, as it is more commonly known, has a storied history, but it isn’t discussed in casual rap conversations nearly as much as instruments like 808s and hi-hats. It’s unique sound makes it instantly recognizable in songs such at 50 Cent’s 2003 hit “P.I.M.P,” and Travis Scott and Young Thug’s 2016 collaboration “Pick Up the Phone.” It’s an instrument that can be used as an alternative to piano melodies, and one which we’ve seen on an upwards trend in hip-hop. But where did the steel drum come from?

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