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

Lil Durk

Since the steely Chicago rap subgenre known as drill exploded in 2012, Lil Durk, 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, Remember My Name, Durk aims to avoid a similar fate. The album lacks the obvious potential hits to guarantee that, although the moody, Jeremih-featuring single "Like Me" is easy to get lost in.

Rapper Lil Durk's Manager Killed in Chicago

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.

This story originally appeared in the June 13 issue of Billboard.