Drain Gang: the music that blows my mind

April 19, 2022

Photograph of Drain Gang courtesy of Märta Thisner

Mustafa Osman delves into the world of rap and finds some of his best sounds

I have been into rap music for the past five to six years. Every time I listen to rap, without fail, it gets me hyped. The deeper I explore the underground rap scene the more inspired I get, spurring me to discover more.

Through my explorations I stumbled across Drain Gang; with booming bass and cascading synths, their sound is powerful, energetic, and vibrant. They 100% blow my mind! Their main genre is cloud rap, with elements of hip-hop and alternative R&B. Cloud rap has roots in the late 2000s rap and chillwave scene, and is characterised by its lo-fi, hazy, dreamlike quality.

“[Drain Gang] is about loss and gain; it could be good or bad — you could be drained of energy or you could drain something to gain energy… Basically, if I’m talking about ‘eating the night’ that means I drain it for its essence” explains Bladee from the group.

Drain Gang are a music collective rap group based in Stockholm, Sweden. They started making music in the 2010s alongside another Swedish group known as Sadboys, who I’ll talk more about later. They spit lyrics about mental health, video games, drugs, relationships, heaven and hell. Drain Gang have a great mix of deep, touching, and light content.

Drain Gang have changed their names quite a few times to create intrigue and become more marketable

There are four members of Drain Gang. Bladee and Thaiboy Digital are the main rappers, Ecco2k is a rapper, producer and the graphic designer while Whiteamour is the main producer who creates most of the beats for the band.

Drain Gang have changed their names quite a few times to create intrigue and become more marketable. They were also known as Smög Boys, Gravity Boys, and Shield Gang. In Smög Boys, Bladee was called Ken Burnz, Ecco2k was Malcom Sex and Whiteamour was known as DJ Cannabiz.

Moving to 2013, Bladee’s friend from the group Sadboys, called Yung Lean, suddenly gained traction on YouTube after dropping a song called Ginseng Strip 2002.

Since Bladee has been close friends with Yung Lean for a long-time, Lean wanted to bring Drain Gang with him on his first tour. This tour with Sadboys got Drain Gang more recognition and, with more eyes on the group, they got more popular. They continued to grow, organically gathering fans with their unique style and aesthetic that hadn’t been seen before.

[expand title=”Timeline from 2014 to 2021“]

2014: After supporting Sadboys tour, Bladee released his first solo album called Gluee. This album generated a hugely positive response from his fans. Yet, some rap fans on SoundCloud expressed that his album actually sounded terrible and extremely unpolished. These conflicting opinions created a harsh divide in the rap community. With this split, Drain Gang’s dedicated fans became more protective and devoted to them and Sadboys. Thaiboy Digital releases his first album, Tiger. It had the the same feeling as Gluee. Both albums fed their cult-like, dedicated fanbase extremely well.

2015: With more recognition throughout 2015, both groups were getting bigger and bigger by the second. However, due to unforeseen events, Drain Gang and Sadboys took a hiatus until June 2016 when Bladee released his first studio album, Eversince. This album is one of his most popular and is regarded as his best, and its limited-edition merchandise was highly sought after – a polo shirt could reach as much £500.

2017: Drain Gang released their first full-group project, D&G, which got lots of good reviews. Along with this album came a short tour around Europe and, by the end of the year, Bladee released a collab album with a producer group known as Working On Dying. They named the album WODG, combining Working On Dying’s acronym WOD and Drain Gangs acronym DG, and it received rave reviews.

2018: This was an extremely eventful year, Bladee released his second studio album Red Light with some of his most popular tracks, including Obedient, Decay and For You, featuring Ecco2k. It was received well by fans but even negative responses, such as the infamous review by Anthony Fantano, drew more attention to the album.

Also, during this year, Ecco2k’s fashion brand, g’loss, which he launched in 2014 with just a few t-shirts and patches, released its most popular item to-date, the love pill. This is a necklace shaped as a heart and put into a medicine packet which must be extracted like a pill. There were only 175 of the necklaces made and they sold out in mere seconds, priced at £150. Now the love pill resells for over £1000; it is extremely sought after.

2018: At the end of December, Bladee releases another album, Icedancer. The album came earlier than planned since Bladee accidentally leaked it on his SoundCloud profile. Then he was pressured to release it early after fans rushed in with pleas on social media to hear the new album.

2019: This was another great year for Drain Gang; they dropped their album Trash Island. And finally, Ecco2k released his own album known as e. This album was an instant hit, even appealing to people outside the Drain Gang community.

Thaiboy also put out an album known as Legendary Member. It had been good couple years since Thaiboy had released an album, so it was a great way to say ‘I’m still here don’t forget about me’. The album includes some amazing songs, such as Legendary Member featuring Bladee, Ecco2K, Sadboys leader, Yung lean, IDGAF and Bently.

2020: We all anticipated another great year but it was taken away from us all, although, Bladee promised to drop 3 albums to get us through these difficult times. And so he did, bringing us 333, Exeter and Good Luck with 2 out of 3 getting good reviews. Good Luck got pretty bad reviews but that didn’t matter as, simultaneously, Ecco2k released an EP with 5 songs known as PXE which went down well with his fans.

2021: Bladee dropped an album The Fool and they decided to announce their world tour which everyone was hyped for – especially me since they were playing in London and it would be my first gig ever.[/expand]

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In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a big fan of Drain Gang and Sadboys myself. I have recently seen Drain Gang at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town. I took my camera along to record them. Check out my film here.

It was an epic gig. The group, known for its style, were dressed in cool, dark ALYNX sweatshirts, fur hoods, beanies and spiked chains. The stage was set like a dungeon swathed in dark greens and seedy purples, with the guys popping out of bright neon spotlights in contrast. Sharp multi-coloured lasers were used to compliment the complexity of their beats. Smoke built up the stormy, atmospheric vibes. The music was electric and pulsed through the crowd who were erupting in euphoric chaos, displaying their intense appreciation.

I highly recommend you give Drain Gang a listen here.

Mustafa is studying Creative Media Production at Barnet College. is studying Creative Media Production at Barnet College. He is interested in music, especially Rap and Hip Hop and is always keen to explore more about the music and innovative film-making.

Mustafa is studying Creative Media Production at Barnet College. is studying Creative Media Production at Barnet College. He is interested in music, especially Rap and Hip Hop and is always keen to explore more about the music and innovative film-making.

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