“Chi-Town I be really pimpin’” raps Kendrick Lamar in “The Recipe.” From Common, Twista, and Kanye West to Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa to G Herbo, Chief Keef, and Lil Durk, Chicago is home to some of the greatest artists in hip-hop. No cap. Read more…
With standout records such as “Like Me” featuring Jeremih and “My Beyonce” featuring Dej Loaf, Durk proves his ability to make music both for the mainstream and his people back in Chicago. His projects are a reflection of his upbringing and the realities of struggle and violence back home.
Durk’s fucked up major label situation with Def Jam is living proof that no artist’s journey is the same. Turning a negative into a positive, he recently announces his deal with Alamo Records, a branch of Interscope, with plans to not only take himself, but his whole OTF team to the very top.
For those who don’t know who is, Lil Durk?
Lil Durk is a Chicago artist. Been here for a couple years and came up with the whole 300 Movement. Just sticking it out. It’s like a dream. I ain’t ever gonna stop.
Where do you fit in the realm of hip-hop and R&B?
Real, authentic, and exclusive.
You’re from Chicago obviously, how does that play into your life and your career?
It’s good ‘cause we’re from a city where it’s been a lot of old school rappers for a long, long time. We caught the wave of Twista back then, but now it’s a whole new wave that came. It’s a lot of artists that’s coming up right now. It’s super turnt in Chicago.
Who are some of your favorites from Chicago right now?
Of course, Herb, Booka600, Juice WRLD. It’s so many different artists.
Gotchu, how important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist?
It’s important to go everywhere. Definitely the LA’s, the New York’s, because this is where the businesses are at. These are where the opportunities are at.
On “1-773 Vulture,” you rap the “streets don’t love anyone but they in love with me,” what sets you apart from the other street rappers?
It’s the same, it just depends on how you deliver it. It’s how you say it. You can say the same thing 3 different ways to make it sound different. Everything I do, I try to relate to everybody — what I been through and what I seen. For everybody else, I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s what going on today to relate.
You tweeted in March that Valee was your top 3 Chicago artists. Who are the others?
Valee, Juice WRLD, and G Herbo.
Where would you put yourself?
Of course I’ma say number one. No playing. [laughs]
The music video for “Remembrance” is already at 5 million, did you foresee it blowing up like this?
I knew it was going to do good just off the lyrics. Just off the “make Kanye black again.” It was just organic. We just shot it while we were at Rolling Loud.
The record and visual were both super personal, what is it you want fans to get from your story?
Just where I came. Coming from nothing and being stuck in the Def Jam situation from 2012 until a couple months ago.
Can you talk about that journey?
It wasn’t the whole building, it was just a couple people that were pushing. But the people who I needed to push weren’t pushing. They didn’t believe in me. They were holding me back. I couldn’t drop when I wanted to. I couldn’t be creative. That’s really it.
And how long you were stuck for?
For a minute, since 2012.
Was that how long your contract was?
it was really longer. I was 17 when I first signed my contract, so you know how that goes. But actually, when I got released, I dropped a project called Just Cause Ya’ll Waited. Everything just picked back up. Now I could do what I want, I’m rocking with Alamo.
Can you talk about why you chose Alamo?
They fit me, and I like the opportunities they gave me. Once they said “priority and this and that,” they get me up front. Cause the Def Jam situation kind of spooked me away from everything.
What do you hope to accomplish with Alamo?
Go number 1. Turn Alamo up to the roof. Go number 1 with them. They believe in me, I believe in them, so it’s gotta work.
I actually interviewed Q Money. I asked him the most played artist on your phone and he started singing “Granny’s Crib,” talk about the influence that you have on the rap game
A lot. It’s just nowadays, a lot of things be the same. A lot of songs sound the same. The goal is to make better music with your own sound. That’s how you start trends. Because if you follow behind somebody else and they started the trend, that shit’s weak. So just be authentic.
Signed To The Streets 3 is expected for later release this year, what else can we expect from the project? I know we have Future, Ty Dolla $ign and Juice WRLD.
I got A Boogie on there. Got Lil Baby and Dolph. Just giving them a different flavor. Just giving them me. It’s like a rebirth. No holding back especially with the Def Jam era.
Any specific theme or content wise?
I just want to give ya’ll that same feeling that’s Signed To The Streets 1 and Signed To The Streets 2. That’s when we were having fun. Now it’s back to the fun. I just want to get back to relating to the fans, touching the fans.
On “Homebody” you actually rap about Percs, how has your outlook changed since Fredo Santana’s death?
Yeah, I don’t like Percs. I was already cool on them anyway, but with that situation…
Right, so you stopped doing them after that?
Yeah. Actually, I was high when I got the phone call. I was panicking like “damn.”
Good for you, that makes me so happy.
Yeah fasho. It’s like everybody’s going to do what they’re going to do regardless, but by him dying, by Lil Peep dying, a lot of people are going to stop the situation and a lot of people are going to keep going. It’s your choice.
Right that’s dope, thank you for that, talk about turning the OTF family into a label, how easy or difficult was it to execute?
Genius. That was the smartest thing I ever did. ‘Cause it was already a brand, so now it’s like, “Okay, turn this to this.” You can brand anywhere. The Family is dealing with sports, movies, whatever. It’s just ways of branding it and then taking it to the next level.
What does it take to be signed to OTF?
Being different and having your own wave. And actually, don’t be dependent. Like “if I do this, can I do this?” I want you to be the same when you sign. I want you to turn yourself all the way up. Or I’m gon’ turn you up. I like family. I like being real and just keeping it real close. Any artist I got under me, it’s like “I want ya’ll to be around.” If you can’t reach nobody, I can do it.
Is it like you’re looking for them or you got people looking for ‘em? And then they gotta meet you?
They just come. Sometimes, somebody will bring somebody… they just come. That’s when it be the biggest, when it just happens and they don’t plan it.
How did you end up mediating the 6ix9ine/Chief Keef beef?
I went on Instagram live with 6ix9ine and what I was explaining to them was, I don’t be keeping up. I look at that shit like a joke. No matter how ya’ll take it, how ya’ll do it, it’s a joke. So when he did it, when he started overdoing it, I’m like, “That’s not how I’ma end it.” He was like, “Oh shit, I ain’t know that shit was like that.” But I’m my own man. I’m independent.
What have you learned most now that you been in the business for almost 10 years, what’s the difference between 17 year old Durk and 25 year old Durk?
I’m a businessman now, definitely. I’m more mature. I learned from my mistakes. Definitely know how to change everything around me, change everybody around me. Like my management, they all went to college. I’m being smart about the situation because I want to grow. I don’t want my managers to be high. Shout out to my team, and just grow.
What did you do with your first advance?
I can’t tell you, Ima get locked up. Nah I’m just playing. [smiles] I ain’t have nothing so I bought belts, shoes, etc. We were buying dirt bikes, just having fun. Blowing it.
Can you talk about wiping your Instagram clean? How important is social media for your career?
Nah it’s important. It’s just any project you drop, you want that focus to be on that. That’s the main thing.
Oh that’s why people do that?
Yeah because your focus gotta be that. I want everybody’s focus to be Signed To The Streets 3. Some people don’t get it. You could have a million pictures, but if you want somebody to be focused on one thing…
How active are you on social media?
A lot. I like Instagram. I like Snapchat. I like Twitter
People be sleeping on Twitter.
I love Twitter. Twitter the hardest place to get followers. You get a shout out, you’ll get 2 follows [laughs]
How much you got on Twitter? ‘Cause you got a couple million on Instagram.
Hold on, I’m finna tell you right now. [checks phone] I got 2.8 million.
Oh what the fuck?! And you still notice 2 follows? I’m dead.
[laughs] I ain’t say I notice it. I’m saying like if you give somebody a shout on Instagram, it’s a 1000 follows. You try to go on Twitter, you only get like 2 follows. It be hard to get follows on Twitter.
That’s hilarious alright 3 things you need in the studio?
iPhone charger, gas, and my engineer.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Boxing. I like boxing.
Who are you listening to while you boxing?
I listen to Thug, Future. I like a lot of underground too. Who else? Lil baby definitely. Gunna definitely. Shout out to Gunna. I forgot to put him up there, he top 5.
My girl works with Gunna. She told me pull up to Young Thug’s birthday at Dave and Busters in LA, and they literally like shut down the entire thing just to arrest him.
But you gotta think about it, they don’t want nobody to be successful. You gotta think about it, so I don’t really too much blame him. But he definitely legit, he got a security team.
What’s the best encounter you’ve had with a fan?
I’ma say getting in the crowd. Because at first, I ain’t know how to perform. They were like “you just there.” Then I just got in the crowd on some “fuck it” and was just jumping with them.
Are you a crowd surfer?
It’s certain venues, like the Rolling Louds. The regular concerts, it might be some street shit. I ain’t jumpin in no crowd, I’m just rapping.
Favorite song to perform in a set?
I got 2 actually. I Iike “Homebody” and “Durkio Crazy.”
What’s a normal day in the life? Walk us through.
Family man, definitely. I like being around the guys, but I’m mostly in the studio. Shopping, I like to shop. That’s my favorite too.
Where do you like to shop?
Barneys, Saks. I like Kith too. Kith different.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
I don’t know ‘cause the rotation is everybody who I named for top 5. Probably most recent, NBA Youngboy “Show Me Your Love.” He top 5 too. It’s so many, you can’t even say top 5. Nowadays, you gotta say top 15.
Last question, dream collab?
I collabed with everybody. I’ma say Post Malone.
Is there anything else you wanna let us know?
Signed To The Streets 3 on the way.