Lil Durk has come a long way since gracing the cover of XXL's Freshman issue in 2014, and even further since his days of growing up on Chicago's South Side.

Musically, he's just wrapped up his most prolific year to date, first surprising fans with Long Songs for the Streets—a mixtape featuring Young Thug, Moneybagg Yo and YFN Lucci—in February. He followed that effort with Supa Vultures alongside Lil Reese, his own mixtape sequel Signed to the Streets 2.5, and closed out the year with the Midwest tag team project Bloodas, with Tee Grizzley.

"Coming from the Midwest, it’s something we always wanted to do," Durk tells XXL about the latter project's Chi City-to-Motor City connection. Beyond the music, though, Durk is making strides in his personal life. He's got a new love interest, a renewed sense of faith and a change of scenery (he relocated to Atlanta last year).

Durk begins this year with a clean slate, but he's already got plans for Signed to the Streets 3, another installment of the mixtape series he began five years ago. "We got some things we working on—we just tryna bring in 2018 in a good way, in a good vibe," he says. "Different, showing growth." XXL caught up with Durk to speak about music, love, fatherhood and more.

XXLYou did put out a lot of music in 2017.

Lil Durk: The music we started putting out is catching. You just gotta find what’s going on, you gotta find what people like about you. And that’s what we did.

How did the track "Goofy" with Jeezy and Future come together?

Oh, them like my brothers, my big homies. Everything be genuine, ain’t nothin' forced. We was in the studio together, me and Future, and he gave it to me and I told him I’ma put Jeezy on it. Then I went in the studio with Jeezy, he laid his verse down and that’s what it was.

Why did you make the move from Chicago to Atlanta?

Focus. You can get more done, you ain’t gotta worry about nothing else. More money and more opportunities.

What do you have planned for this year of your life?

Growth in everything. Everything gotta be growth.

Has fatherhood changed you over the years?

A hundred percent; this is the only reason I’m doing what I’m doing now. Rapping is my dream, but my kids make me happy.

How long have you been with your current girlfriend?

[Laughs] A couple months now.

Why did you make the song "India" about her?

I made it while she was on FaceTime.

You're paying more attention to your faith, too. Can you expand on that?

Oh, yeah. I’m steady doing my research and talking to my daddy about it. I’m still learning.

Are your children Muslim as well?

Oh, nah. I just want them to make their own decisions. Of course I’ma put it in their ear, but right now they’re young, so they won’t understand. I’m still learning right now. I wanna know everything about it. I don’t wanna half step it.

In May, you spoke about Chicago's gang violence alongside Vic Mensa. Has the city improved in terms of violence over the years?

It ain’t too much changed out there; it’s still violent. What’s going on out there is still going on.

Do you feel there’s a way to prevent it at all?

That’s something everybody gotta come up with. One person can’t change it, two people can’t change it.

You were also pretty vocal about Meek Mill's jail stint. What are your thoughts on his legal situation?

I’m just saying my prayers, hoping he get back. I talked to him before he went to court. He said he gon' do a song for me after court. We didn’t think he was gonna get locked up, so he’s in our prayers.

With the recent passing of Lil Peep, there has been a lot of dialogue about the drugs rappers have been using.

I don’t think it should be a big situation, because there’s a lot of people that play with guns [and] there’s a lot of people that die from it. Too many people don’t say “Put the gun down.” They do it for the look. But, there’s really people out there that’s really ’bout that, that’s really going through stuff. They gotta take their mind off stuff. A lot of rappers are still gonna use them. Before they used the drug they already knew the consequence.

Do you think this situation may make people cut down?

This situation might slow it down. It took for somebody to overdose for people to open their eyes. A lot of people out here smart, they already know what’s going on with it but play dumb. But, people use it for their personal use, and people gon' do what they wanna do anyway.

How do you deal with your personal issues?

I use the studio as my drug. That’s where I relieve everything at—the studio.

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