Following this year’s previous release, the 300 Days, 300 Nights mixtape and his 2015 Def Jam debut Remember My Name, which entered the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at No. 2, Lil Durk is taking a different approach for his sophomore set Lil Durk 2X (pronounced “Lil Durk two times”), due July 22. With Remember My Name, the 23-year-old Chicago rapper loaded up his major-label introduction with gritty street tales on top of chest-pounding drill beats, save the Jeremih-assisted single “Like Me.”
This go-round, Lil Durk (born Durk Banks) views 2X as a “second chance.” He admits he listened more to his team for the first project but gained more confidence after receiving an “A1” response from his fans following the 300 Days, 300 Nights ‘tape, which carried the lovey-dovey duet with his rumored bae Dej Loaf on “My Beyonce.” It also featured standouts like “Waffle House,” an ode to the trap featuring fellow Chicagoan Young Dolph, and anti-naysayer anthem “Spent Me” co-starring Meek Mill.
Durk feels even more confident that 2X’s content will stick. “I got more potential hits,” he tells Billboard. “More beat selection.” He also prides himself on tapping lesser-known producers and artists like Young Chop and Chopsquad DJ and balancing radio-friendly cuts with his Chi-town roots. Glossy names like Future, Yo Gotti and Ty Dolla $ign lend their talents to the project without overshadowing Durk. Take the Yo Gotti-assisted dance number “Money Walk,” a mean mug-worthy track fit for stack spending that finds Durk spitting, “Walkin’ like I got money, I’mma do the money walk.” There’s no fear in alienating his hardcore fanbase, either. “I ain’t sayin’ I switched up,” he said. “I just had more fun being me.”
Despite his cocky rhymes on wax, Durk says his kids are the motivation behind his paper-chasing. As a father to two sons who are 2 and 4 years old, respectively, the rapper pays attention to the news, especially the recent police-involved shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, to keep his children away from the streets and any worries at bay. “There’s violence everywhere. With [my kids], I can’t even say it’s a race thing because they’re mixed but my youngest son is black. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing now,” he says. “My job is to put ’em up somewhere, playing baseball, soccer. I don’t want my kids to be on the streets period. I want my kids to be nerds. I want them to be book smart or playing sports — I don’t want them to know nothing about the streets.”
His parental goals aside, Durk doesn’t forget where he’s from or the color of his skin. He recently shared a photo on Instagram of his Black Lives Matter tattoo, an unfinished piece on his left leg spurred by his anger to the recent cases of police brutality. “It been getting to me but the last two [deaths] really, really got to me,” he said. “It made me mad.” Mixing life experiences with biographical tidbits (like his father being incarcerated for 23 years to going to jail himself on gun possession charges), Durk vents his truth in the studio but never gives power to regrets. “That’s what’s important to me — to keep it one thousand,” he says. “I’m really living my dream so if I were to change anything up, I probably wouldn’t be where I am.”