Lil Durk is one of the most influential artists in the rap game, consistently feeding the streets with trap anthems since he started nearly a decade ago. The Chicago native puts on for the people as he raps about real-life experiences we all go through, while unveiling layers of vulnerability and honesty that can’t be duplicated.
Coming up amidst the Chi-Town drill scene alongside notable rappers such as Chief Keef, Fredo Santana, and Lil Reece, Durk would relocate to Atlanta to better himself not only as a recording artist, but as a human being. His previous run-ins with the law serve as fuel to achieve success in the music industry, while remaining true to his authentic character.
Fast forward to 2020, the Only The Family founder gifts fans with yet another incredible body of work: Just Cause Y’all Made It 2. The 15-track tape hails standout singles “All Love,” “3 Headed Goat” featuring Lil Baby and Polo G, “Viral Moment,” and “Chiraq Demons” featuring G Herbo. While the project skyrocketed to No. 1 effortlessly, Durk states it was more so a loosie to hold fans over until the real deal: No Auto Durk with producer Metro Boomin. The release date for this album still hasn’t been revealed.
Aside from his own artistry, Durk has collaborated with damn near every big artist you can think of. His work ethic and passion for his craft translates directly to his endless catalog of singles, visuals, and projects.
REVOLT caught up with him to discuss his favorite songs off of Just Cause Y’all Made It 2, fatherhood, his standout collaborations, his forthcoming album with Metro, and more. Read below.
How have you been holding up in quarantine?
I’ve been good. I’ve been in good spirits. I’m still going to the studio, but it’s only me in the studio. I don’t go outside, I haven’t been going out.
I’m surprised you don’t have a studio at your crib.
I do, but bringing somebody here is still taking a chance.
Congrats on Just Cause Ya’ll Waited 2! How’s it feel to have it out? You even released a deluxe version.
Thank you, it feels good. It’s doing better than I expected. I was originally putting out to get prepared for the new album with Metro. It’s good that the quarantine happened (laughs). I put it out to feed the fans for real until he’s ready because you know him and 21 [Savage] have to drop, so hopefully he drops soon.
How often do you use autotune?
That’s the majority of what I do, but on that, I’m bringing back the 2012 Chicago sound. That’s another name for drill, bringing back those vibes. We’re mixing and mastering.
Off the rip on “Different Meaning,” you say, “When you wake up off them pills, that feeling terrible.” Can you describe that feeling? What were you going through?
It’s like when you’re drinking. It’s like a hangover, but on pills. I don’t use as much as I used to. I slowed down, I used to take them real heavy.
Hip hop has taken a major loss when it comes to substance abuse and overdose. What do you think needs to happen?
It’s just life period. Like XXX, the shooting, you can’t duck it. But at the same time, it depends how you use it or how you do it.
Have you slowed down because of fatherhood?
I wanted to change. I was overdoing them and doing too much. I wanted to X it out, that s**t over with. Then when Fredo died, it really was like…
Was it hard for you to slow down?
In the beginning, it was hard. Stopping is hard, but I got through it.
I know people that can’t even record without Percs. It’s crazy.
See, I’m not that type. I can record high or sober. To each his own.
What does it mean to drop a song like “All Love” during this time?
There wasn’t a specific meaning, but I felt the streets would rock with that if I dropped it. When we dropped, it was going crazy. I really built the tape around that.
What’s your favorite song on the record?
I like “All Love” the most because it feels good. I got a lot of stuff off my chest on that song. Politickin’, talking to people around me and seeing what they’re going through. When I made it, everybody felt it.
You have six kids. How do you balance fatherhood and all that you do?
As long as the kids are happy, I look at it like anything can happen as long as you in their life. If you’re not in their life, it’d be off balance. As long as all of them are happy, then you’re good.
Do your older kids listen to your music?
Yeah, they do TikToks and all that. I have to learn how to work that for real. I know how to work Triller better than TikTok. I don’t know how to dance like that, but I got rhythm though.
People have been going crazy over “3 Headed Goat.” Talk about getting Lil Baby and Polo on that record.
It’s crazy. That was a last minute record. I put it together because me and Baby did it, but we didn’t finish it. But, my hard drive had crashed, so I lost the session. I only had the mp3. When I listened to it before we put the project out, I’m like, “We have to put somebody on there like Polo.” He snapped, it came out perfect.
How quickly did Polo send that verse back?
The next day. When I hit him, he said, “I’m setting up the studio.” I’m like, “That’s perfect.” I said, “As soon as I’m done with this, I’ma send you the song.” He sent it back the next day. That shit’s hard. He’s one of my favorites on the come up side, and he’s from Chicago.
The same day you dropped, you tagged Kehlani saying she’s the “female GOAT.”
Yeah, I f**k with her. Before this, we used to talk about music. We’d go through songs, but you know how she’s all the way in Cali. Everybody’s doing their own thing. She called me like, “We have to hurry up.” Soon as quarantine over with, we’re locked in the studio.
May was Mental Health Awareness Month. How is music a coping mechanism for you?
That’s why I go to the studio a lot. There’s stuff I have to get off my chest through the microphone rather than through somebody else. A one-on-one talk would be different because at the end of the day, this is a stranger. But, I can go to the studio and speak my mind knowing I have fans who are going to listen.
How does it feel to have the loyal fanbase you have?
It feels good, but I’m still hungry though. I haven’t done the Grammys or the BET Awards. I have to check the to-do list. That means something coming from somebody like us, where we come from and our whole background. Nobody from Chicago besides Chance really did the BET Awards type stuff. That’s a big goal.
You’ve been doing a lot for your community. Talk about feeding meals and giving masks to people.
It felt good because I knew everybody needed it. People outside with no masks, I know the nurses need lunches. Overall, wherever you’re at it feels good, but it felt better when I did it in Chicago because it’s home. I’m back doing this. I never really did it. It was always book bags, etc. This is genuinely from the heart.
How does it feel to return to Chicago right now?
It feels good. I had a meeting with the mayor. I was cleaning up the past. It’s not even anything current that’s stopping us from doing shows, just f**ked up [stuff] in the past and nobody fixed in during the growth. It stuck on some, it is what it is. But, I’m trying to change it.
You going to get the key to the city or what?
For sure (laughs). I have to. Those are goals to me.
What’d it mean to link with G Herbo on “Chiraq Demons”?
We were in the studio in Atlanta, Metro had just left. That’s the type of vibe me and Metro on: no auto. Herb said, “Let’s do some no auto type s**t.” We were in that mode, politickin’. We’re like, “We need two.” So, that’s when we did “Chiraq Demons” and “Party In Heaven” that’s on his album (PTSD).
You can really feel your words on “Turn Myself In.” What were you going through?
There’s no feeling like having to turn yourself in the next day and not knowing nothing. I wanted to set a vibe, set a tone. “This is the reason or this is how I feel. Y’all don’t worry, this how I want y’all to feel.” Trying to get a whole mood on.
Who are your top five artists in rotation?
I listen to the Lil Babys, the Gunnas, the Thugs, the Futures. I listen to King Von, that’s my artist. I like Youngeen Ace. Of course, Polo G.
How did the “Moonwalkin” record with Roddy Ricch come about?
It was a normal day, then a great text popped up. He’s like, “I want you on my album.” When he sent the record, I’m like, “This motherf**ker so hard, I got to take my time. Talk real s**t.” I told him as soon as you drop it, it’s going up. And that’s what happened. I f**k with him, too.
What about “Off White VLONE” with Lil Baby, Gunna, and Nav?
Me and Gunna been had the song. He hit me like, “Man, I’m finna put this out.” I look up, he sent it to me it with Baby and Nav on it. I’m like, “Oh this s**t hard hard.” When they dropped it, that was one of the songs trending. It’s dope. It’s crazy how music comes together.
Do you know what songs going to take off or not?
See the ones you focus on, half the time, they don’t really be it. It’s the ones you really don’t focus on. So, how I play it, I just let the numbers show. If these got the most numbers, then I’ll shoot a video for it.
You have so much music. Do you remember all your lyrics?
Sometimes, I have to listen to it with headphones. I’ll listen to it a couple times. If we have a show, I have the whole show playlist. I get it made and I’ll listen to it all the way through. Flights, hotels, I’m chillin’ so I don’t mess up. That’s important.
Only The Family is such a strong name for a brand.
It just hits, it sounds good. It actually feels good because it’s a brotherhood for real. I should say family because there’s girls, but we have the family with us. Keeping everything in the house. It’s a business, but it doesn’t feel like a business. Half of us are family already. All the artists we been knew. We have a lot of artists we’re about to sign that nobody knows yet.
What would you say is your most slept-on song?
I’m not going to say slept-on, but “Make it Out.” It went big because I did WorldStar. It went big, but they’re telling me if the views counted from that, we would have went damn near platinum. Since the views don’t count, it’s almost going gold. That’s why I’m more strategic with how I drop music now.
What can we expect next?
No Auto Durk with Metro. Turn up. Ready to f**k the streets up for real.
You do that every album though!
I want to show growth. I don’t want it to be the same, I want it to be growth. Metro will bring a different crowd. He has his own fans, that’s the type of stuff I want to do. Doing the collab project with A Boogie. We’re talk about it everyday like, “We’re going to do it.” With quarantine going on, we never know when we’ll get back in the studio.
Are you itching to get outside or you chillin’?
Itching to get out more so for me is to get some money or get on the road. Some people are like, “I’m going to club.” But, I’m not itching to do that.
Do you miss touring?
Hell yeah, this s**t makes you miss everything.