Three years ago, then-Def Jam rookie Lil Durk, real name Durk Banks, cemented his presence in hip-hop when he delivered a surprise guest appearance at Superfest, performing “Dis Ain’t What U Want” to a crowd of energetic Chicago teens. Perhaps it was being home (Durk was born and raised in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood) or simply his showmanship that showcased his raw talent, because since then, the Southside Chicago rapper has consistently made the name “Lil Durk” ring bells.
Within the next 365, Durk gained a spot on the coveted 2014 XXL Freshman Class cover and shortly after released his fifth mixtape, Signed To The Streets 2. Having built a loyal fanbase, he then released his debut solo album, Remember My Name, in 2015. The album soared high by coming in at No. 14 on US Billboard 200 and sold an estimate of 24,000 copies within its first week. Now the 23-year-old is back and gearing up for the release of his sophomore album, and rather than simply remembering his name, Durk wants fans to not turn up just once, but turn up with him 2xs. The highly anticipated album, out today (July 22), is a 15-track compilation of multiple lyrical influencers. Not only does Lil Durk’s 2xs feature Durk’s popular pre-released single “My Beyoncé” featuring Dej Loaf, but the album also includes collaborations with big name artists like Yo Gotti, Future, Young Thug and Ty Dolla $ign.
Durk arrived on schedule to VIBE’s NYC’s office casually draped in a NYC Bape tee, black denim and the Metallic Air Jordan 5 sneakers, with his statement black shades, which he kept on throughout the entire interview. Normally a laid back guy, Durk appeared to be guarded today, giving brief one to two word answers during small talk (he did mention at his listening party that evening, that at times he can be shy). However, it was not until he was asked about his children that a transition of body language changed from stern to more relaxed.
Once he loosened up, Durk spoke on the meaning behind the straightforward name “2xs”, the feeling of working with those artists, the inspiration behind his album cover artwork, (which features his two sons, Angelo and Zayden) and more.
VIBE: How are the kids, Angelo, Bella, and Zayden?
Lil Durk: They’re good…bad as sh**!
Speaking of the kids, I noticed that the album cover features just you, Zayden, and Angelo. What was the inspiration behind this, since you excluded Bella from this photo?
I just wanted to do something with the boys, because I always do everything with Bella.
You have a lot of dope collabs on 2xs, there’s Young Thug, Ms. Deja (Dej Loaf), Ty Dolla $ign, and Yo Gotti. What was it like working with those artists?
It was decent. It was fun. Those are all of the people who as soon as I call them for a verse, they send them back within ten minutes. I’m rocking with whoever wants to rock with me.
If you can choose one song that’s the most meaningful to you from 2xs, which one would you choose?
That’s a lot to pick from! I like a couple of songs on 2xs.
Give us your top three.
“Check”, my song that features Future– “Hatin’ on me,” “Money Walk,” and “Glock Up.” I’ll give you four!
They’re just different. The last album we did, we were serious as hell, trying too hard. I was going off of other people’s opinions like, “You think I should do this?” They’d give me their thoughts, and I’d just go with it. With 2xs it was just us. This is what we’re going to do, we’re just going to go. With 2xs, I just wanted to turn up and bring that energy instead of being so serious.
You recently just got a Black Lives Matter tattoo. What made you say, “I think it’s time”, and that this was something you wanted on yourself permanently?
I been feeling like that for a while now, but I thought I’m probably just like trippin’. Then, the last two incidents [about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile] pissed me off. I really want to say a lot of sh** that I can’t. When I got the tattoo it was like a, “NOW! NOW WHAT?” F**k you mean!” [Laughs]
Your caption under the video revealing your tattoo read, “What’s going on in the world, is crazy to me.” Can you talk a bit more about that?
Yeah, it’s just real-life racist police out there. I’m not going off of TV, I’m going off of Chicago experiences. I’m not even going to say racist, but just the police period. Whether black, white, Chinese, I don’t give a f**k what it is. They don’t serve to protect. They’ll be like, “How the f**k did y’all move out here?” and we’d be like, “F**k you mean? Just how you’d move here. You just work for what you get.”
God made the camera phone. I was fighting my gun case, and I’m still going to court for it. It’s going to get beat, but at the same time you have all of these other things live on video, like I’ve lost hope for my sh*t now. How many killings are on video, and the police have won the case? So it really doesn’t even matter.
In an interview that you did with The Breakfast Club last summer, you said, “If everybody who has voices put their heads together and their prides aside, maybe Chicago would be a better place.” Can you elaborate a little bit more on that, and how do you feel like the racial controversy along with the violence is taking a toll on Chicago as a community?
I don’t want to just say it’s just a racial thing. You feel me? What’s going on in Chicago, is with the gangs that’s in Chicago. That’s the big thing with all of the gangs, and all of the people who have voices. That’s why all the rappers who have voices in Chicago: Lil Herb, Hypno, Lil Bibby, Dj Bandz, Minister Louis Farrakhan, if we all try to put something together to stop the BS, you know what I’m saying? All sides. So if everybody who has the voices just come together, and just try and talk it out and be like, “Let’s slow down, let’s try to get to the community,” or just do anything to slow it down because the violence is never going to stop.
Do you think that’ll ever be possible for you guys to try to unify?
Yeah. I mean it’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s going to happen. If everybody is in there 100%, I guarantee it’s going to slow down.