Coming of Age
Lil Durk’s been hanging with wolves for a while, but he realized it was time for some change. Development and deeper connections within himself and with those around him are part of his next phase. Meet Durkio 2.0.
Words: Georgette Cline
Images: Travis Shinn
Stylist: Jenna Demaio
There are three Ds currently on Lil Durk’s mind, and it’s not diners, drive-ins or dives. The 30-year-old Chicago rapper adamantly refuses to be a deadbeat, a dumbass or in debt. There’s too much at stake for Durk, a certified rap star who’s become much more than his self-proclaimed designation, The Voice of the Streets, over the last four years. He’s arguably The Voice of the Streams, too. The studio is a safe space for Lil Durk, where he not only records No. 1-selling albums and those multiplatinum-streaming hits but also handles business.
On this late March afternoon, Durk Banks is at a small studio inside a Los Angeles mansion perched in the Hollywood Hills, openly discussing the ways in which he’s been doing just that. As the artist who once made a song called “No Interviews” sits back, relaxed in a black Bottega Veneta windbreaker, Prada T-shirt, Amiri jeans, G-Fazos and a Saint Laurent ski mask—the latter four all white— his tunnel vision is on the big changes he’s just made. Out with the old, in with the new.
One thing isn’t switching up though: Durkio’s consistency. Seven albums, 10 solo mixtapes, five Only The Family (OTF) projects and one joint LP with Lil Baby over a 12-year rap career. Durk certainly has numbers on the board since he’s been rapping a third of his life. Four years ago, the Love Songs 4 the Streets 2 album was the turning point of his livelihood. The Grammy-nominated artist’s visceral survival stories, rebellious bars and Auto-Tune croons were felt beyond the trenches when he earned his first No. 4 spot on the Billboard 200. What followed was continued elevation on the same chart with his next projects: Just Cause Y’all Waited for 2 and The Voice, both No. 2 in 2020; The Voice of the Heroes with Lil Baby, No. 1 in 2021; and 7220, No. 1 in 2022, and the second-highest selling hip-hop album of that year behind Future’s I Never Liked You.
The success has also been clouded with the nadir of his career in recent years. Legal issues like a 2019 shooting case in which he and the late King Von, who was signed to Durkio’s OTF label, were charged with criminal intent to commit murder, among other offenses. The charges against Smurk were dropped in 2022. Then there were the deaths of both Von and Durk’s brother, DThang, in 2020, and 2021, respectively. Fans feeding into an alleged beef with YoungBoy Never Broke Again didn’t help either. Durk is never one to say names, however.
He’s focused on leveling up, which is marked by The Voice 2.0, his new album to be released in the coming weeks. Durk’s evolution is captured in the cover art created by A$AP Rocky and the Harlem rapper’s creative agency AWGE. The eighth LP in Durk’s catalog represents a move to a more superior version of himself, in which therapy, prioritizing his children and giving back are essential. Here, Lil Durk keeps it real on all that, plus the rumors of a Future joint album, his WTF moment with Jay-Z and what’s really going on with him and his (former?) fiancée India Royale.