The Chicago MC headlines a concert at the Newport on Saturday
As far as Lil rappers go, Lil Durk isn’t on the level of peak Lil Wayne, though he’s far superior to bottom dwellers like Lil Dicky, Lil Romeo and Lil Xan, who I forced myself to listen to in order to write this sentence, and whose appearance seems almost entirely informed by Jared Leto’s Joker. This is all another way to say that the Chicago rapper has always been reliably solid if not transcendent, painting photorealistic portraits of a musician living on that razor’s edge between success and failure on albums such as Love Songs 4 the Streets 2, from 2019.
The struggle is real for Durk, who generated interest from majors for his early drill-inspired raps but has since returned to the relative comforts of home — a topic that surfaces throughout his latest. “I thought my life was supposed to change when I got that deal,” he raps on “Rebellious.”
But while he’s not hurting in the same was as others in his neighborhood (“I’m still rich,” he asserts on one track), Durk is still confronted by many of the same day-to-day horrors, be it street violence (“Die Slow”) or the threat of prison (“Locked Up”), which is an all-too-real concern for the rapper, who faces attempted murder charges.
But while some might pine for escape, Durk sounds increasingly comfortable with his stock. “I’m still a voice inside the trenches,” he raps on “David Ruffin,” coming on like an embedded journalist content with telling increasingly vivid tales from the front lines.