Where does trill come from?
Well before the slang trill, English had many meanings for it, most notably for a "tremulous" sound in music (1600s) or for the vibrating sound of an R in languages like Spanish (1800s).
The slang trill is unrelated, blending the words true and real. Being trill means being authentic and working hard for your aspirations. In hip-hop culture, being trill is a testament that one is tough and can bounce back—and never forgetting one's humble roots with success, wealth, and fame.
The hip-hop duo UGK was one of the first to use the slang trill on their 1992 EP The Southern Way: "Kick it with a trill n***a so you best not trip." On his 2005 track "Trill," rapper Paul Wall gave us a straight-up definition:
Trill is when you never fake, trill is when you real
Chasin' after dollar bills, gotta get it how you live
Trill is when you hustle so you go out there and get it
Doin' whatever you gotta do to make a meal ticket
Trill has also notably been used by larger-than-life rappers from Master P to Lil Wayne to ASAP Rocky. It's even hit its full street reach as the name of popular streetwear brand, Been Trill.
In the 2000s, trill further expanded in slang as a nickname for the hood, where things are real.
all the homies in the trill plz be careful out there
— jg (@JayGee_11) June 19, 2018
Big Block Party in the trill mane..
— Tunechi Jr. (@thaBIGkahuna_) March 10, 2018
Right now in the TRILL pic.twitter.com/gFHff8rKFq
— GRANDMIXXER (@GRANDMIXXER) December 29, 2017
Don't give people advice about moving away when u still stuck in the trill 💀
— Kristi Pham (@kristipham) August 28, 2016
Who uses trill?
Alongside siblings such as vibrato and crescendo, musicians know and use trill. As do writers describing the sound, say, some birds make or how Spanish speakers trill their Rs.
Trill trill trill England 👏🙌👍 pic.twitter.com/qF75aANujM
— Stanley Bad Budgie (@mumofbadbudgie) June 18, 2018
Then, there’s the swaggier trill, used in slang and hip hop to boast realness before those phony haters.
Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side cuz it's fake #Trill
@Hotboytrill7, June, 2018
Believe me, I know how you feel / But for now let's just be real / Acting like you the only one out in these streets / We all got families to feed / So all I can do is be trill.
Dappy, "Trill" (song), 2014
This year's Hot 97 Summer Jam was full of surprises but nothing is quite as astonishing as the annual hip-hop festival's inability to differentiate Bun B from Pimp C. On Sunday night (June 10), the hip-hop radio station found itself in hot water after a member of their social media team mistook the trill orator for his late UGK partner, who passed away back in 2007.
Kai Miller, XXL, June, 2018