Although associated with the rugged lifestyle of Chicago's Drill rappers, Durk now has new plans on the horizon. After suffering the loss of two close friends to gun violence—his manager Chino in March and friend and fellow OTF rapper Nunu last June—Durk is adamant that his calling is in curing street violence, not condoning it.
XXL caught up with the MC to hear a preview of his new album, due for a June 2 release date. Aside from getting into the actual logistics of the LP and what to expect feature-wise, Durk also delved into his push to deter bloodshed between Chicago youths with his new anti-violence campaign, as well as his plans to lead other Chicago rappers into the anti-violence movement by example. With a newfound determination and Remember My Name just over a month away, a new Lil Durk is ready to emerge. —Miranda J.
Lil Durk: Good. Way better than three years ago.
What exactly do you want to be remembered for? When people think of Durk, what do you want to come to mind?
Just the whole music thing and everything we do in the streets. We got the Cure The Violence, Stop The Violence program. I want people to remember more positive than the negative things. I just want them to remember anything we’re doing streetwise and music-wise. I want them to remember me for being creative. I want to be known for taking care of the kids and giving back to Chicago.
You’ve been through a lot in the past three years. What have you learned from that timeframe? How does it affect you and your workflow?
I just need to stay focused on the music. Trying to make music, the streets will have you unfocused. A lot of the stuff happens on the streets, so I’d rather just stay focused on the music. Just do what I gotta do and stay out of the city.
I’ve even noticed from the outside looking in that you’re more focused on your music. A few months ago you were getting into it with The Game and Tyga. Now it seems like you're about your work.
Yeah. I want to come in with the, "Aight, he’s cool." Not like I’m a shit-starter and a troublemaker. I just sat back and thought about it, like, I should focus on the music and chill.
A lot of rappers don’t mind being troublemakers. What makes you different?
It’s different when you usually don’t get in trouble. That makes you want trouble. I come from that shit, so being in trouble doesn’t excite me. Some people are like that like, "Yeah, I want to be on the block." We’ve been did that. It’s not exciting to us. So I really want to change. Only people who want to be in trouble talk about the block, they don’t really be out there. Or they’ll go out there one time and forever talk about it.
So, back to the album. I see that you have the Jeremih feature on there. Who else can we expect?
Jeremih and Logic, right now. Then my artist I just signed named Hypno Carlito. We got Jadakiss and Meek, they’re supposed to do their verses. But time is running out so if they don’t send them back, it’ll be a remix or something.
What about Dej Loaf? I know you were collaborating a lot with her. Is there any hope for her on the album?
We got some new stuff going on, too. I sent her some music like two days ago, so if she sends it back in time. We’re on a time schedule.
Nah, we ain’t got no French on the album. He’s just going to do a co-sign. We’ve got a million songs in the works anyway.
It’s called Cure The Violence. We go out to schools and parks to talk the kids. Just talk to them and show them [a different way] because the community looks at us like, "They valid." So we’ll try to talk to them and show them the footsteps to go in.
I saw, too, that you were working with Joakim Noah from the Chicago Bulls.
Joakim Noah, he’s got a stop the violence program going on, too. The Cure The Violence and Joakim’s foundation are in the mix.
I get the vibe from all this and just talking to you that there’s a new Durk on the horizon and that you want people to remember your name as someone who also cares for the community.
I just want all the stuff off of my name. Some people don’t want it off their name. You don’t want to come in the room and everybody is looking like, "He on some bullshit." We dealt with that all our lives. So we’re just trying to be on some different shit and be professional. Just get rich and more famous.
Have you ever thought about linking with any of the other Chicago rappers to help out this movement?
We tried, but everybody ain’t got their head right in Chicago, so you can’t, really. If he’s on the other page and he’s on another page, it can only be so many meetings to get one page right. You’ve got to think 10 steps ahead of everybody. We tried.
Now you’re just leading by example?
Yeah. And to me, the violence doesn’t come from the music. So I wouldn’t even waste my time sitting with rappers. The rapper are not the ones killing and with the violence. So I wouldn’t waste my time with that.
Music and musicians have such of an impact on the community. So I feel like if you guys did link together, they'd listen to your music and you could have an impact.
Yeah, but there would be a lot of artists that ain’t got nothing to do with anything, so it’s like, "What are you here for?" Like I said, we tried it before to help everything. It doesn’t ever work. So [we] fell back, but I still talk to the people who try to put it together.
Related: Lil Durk Speaks on the Death of His Manager OTF Chino
Lil Durk’s Manager Shot and Killed in Chicago
Listen to Lil Durk Feat. Jeremih, ‘Like Me’
Lil Durk’s Kids Are Unbelievably Cute
Lil Durk’s Manager OTF Chino Was Planning an Anti-Violence Campaign Before Fatal Shooting