MTV Video Music Awards

Chi-Town Rapper Lil Durk Balances Grit and Gloss on Major-Label Debut: Album Review

Lil Durk
Hip-Hop
3
<p>Since the steely Chicago rap subgenre known as drill exploded in 2012, <a href="/artist/6523379/lil-durk/chart">Lil Durk</a>, 22, has arguably become the scene's most consistent voice. He earned cult status with his Auto-Tuned, half-sung flows, but the melodies never distracted from the fact that he can seriously spit. Few of his peers turned drill's early buzz into sustained relevance; with his major-label debut, <em>Remember My Name</em>, Durk aims to avoid a similar fate. The album lacks the obvious potential hits to guarantee that, although the moody, <a href="/artist/304467/jeremih/chart">Jeremih</a>-featuring single "Like Me" is easy to get lost in.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6516815/rapper-lil-durk-manager-uchenna-agina-killed-in-chicago">Rapper Lil Durk's Manager Killed in Chicago</a></p><p>The album does, however, strike a graceful balance between gritty roots and big-budget sheen, recruiting underrated drill producers (DJ L, C-Sick) whose slick beats are highlights -- check the subtle EDM bounce of "Tryna Tryna" or the poignant piano on "Ghetto." The latter is Durk at his most touching, recalling a young adulthood spent going from promo interviews to funerals. He isn't exaggerating: His manager, Uchenna Agina, was murdered in March.</p><p><em>This story originally appeared in the <a href="http://shop.billboard.com/products/billboard-back-issue-volume-127-issue-17">June 13 issue of Billboard</a>.</em></p>