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Lil Durk: Healing to his Highest Potential

On his latest album Almost Healed, the Chicago rapper introduces us to the man behind the moniker, as he embarks on a quest to nurture his vulnerabilities, champion the ones he’s lost along the way, and solidify himself as a leader in the hip-hop community.

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Despite being a prospect across multiple decades, Lil Durk has kept a barrier between him and the music. He’s given us glimpses of who he really is, but they often serve as easter eggs between barrages of braggadocio. His blend of the hard-hitting Chicago drill he helped pioneer and the melodic trap he excels in has become a staple in music today, but he often selflessly sacrifices his best moments in the form of features for artists like Drake and Future. He’s stood the test of time over his long-spanning career, but how much of that time has he dedicated to himself? 

Lil Durk’s latest album Almost Healed starts off with ‘Therapy Session’, a spoken intro by Alicia Keys. It finds her in the role of a therapist and mentor, conversing with Durk about the trials and tribulations he’s faced. She offers condolences on the passing of his close friend and collaborator King Von. She acknowledges the uncomfortable tightrope of rap beefs and community leadership that Durk walks on a day-to-day basis. Most importantly, she wants to hear from the man behind the moniker: Durk Banks. This sets up the atmosphere for this project as a safe space, where Durk feels comfortable dedicating time to himself. As the following songs fly by in a frenzy, the words of this intro ring loudly, as Durk Banks reflects and reveals his true self to the world.


“It’s okay to еxpress your vulnerabilities and еmotions”

Let’s take it back to 2013 for a second. Lil Durk is making an underground splash with his mixtape Signed To The Streets, and one of its several breakout songs ‘Dis Ain’t What U Want’. The track is jam-packed with the menacing orchestral sounds and thumping 808s you hear from his Chicago counterparts Chief Keef and Fredo Santana, but Durk is contrasting this eerie backdrop by dipping into his singing bag. The lyrics were still aggressive, a major element within the blossoming Chicago drill scene at the time, but his croons projected the passion he had for making it out of the adverse environment that surrounded him.

On Almost Healed, Lil Durk has become comfortable with vulnerability. Not just to the point where he can express his deepest emotions, but integrate them into those moments of flex-heavy rap he’s become known for. The song ‘Pelle Coat’ finds him hearkening back to the past, reflecting on the strife found within the streets, the toxic fabrications of internet discourse, and grieving for the passing of King Von. Each passage of honesty is separated by the refrain “They scared to come outside”, which serves as a commentary on hard times making you insular, and a quick statement to let us know that he’s still feeling himself. By bundling his self-affirming moments with his deep dives into melancholy, Durk successfully allows that vulnerability to shine through, while still standing at the top of the rap game. 

“Remember that you don’t have to go through this alone”

Over the past few years, Lil Durk has become renowned for his feature game. He’s dropped standout verses on songs like Drake’s ‘In The Bible’, JID’s ‘Bruddanem’, and so many more, to the point where sometimes it feels like his guest verses get more attention than his solo releases. On Almost Healed, he rallies some new and frequent collaborators to present a united front on his quest for growth. 

An immediate highlight from this is the J-Cole assisted ‘All My Life’. It finds them both telling a tale of rising above negativity and struggle, finding common ground in their experiences of constantly striving to overcome expectations. ‘Same Side’ is a harrowing look into the realities of street life, enlisting the upcoming talent Rob49 in a collaboration that represents time changing, but tales of hardship remaining the same. He celebrates the modern Chicago legend that is Juice WRLD by including a posthumous verse on the boastful cut ‘Cross The Globe’. He even crosses into elements of country with Morgan Wallen on ‘Stand By Me’, a testament to the rough terrains found in love. Each feature on Almost Healed is included with the intention of strengthening the stories Lil Durk wants to tell, the same way he has become known for assisting others in sharing theirs. Using this support, he’s able to stand tall as he reveals his deepest truths to the world. 

“I wanna hear from Durk Banks”

In an interview with XXL, Durk explained how and why he had recently started going to therapy, stating “I don’t show emotion. So, some people will be like, “Man, you can’t hold it in.” And I just can’t talk to nobody usually.” This is mirrored in Almost Healed’s intro, a symbol of everything he aimed to explore and unravel on this album. The most poignant is the last words Alicia Keys speaks: “I wanna’ hear from Durk Banks.” 

By embarking on a quest of vulnerability and bringing his counterparts along as backup, Lil Durk emerges as the most confident version of The Voice yet. Every rap is delivered with passion, every warble soars with honesty. As he taps into the core of his emotions, he enhances his ability as a rapper, singer, and storyteller. 

While you can hear a resemblance to the artist who penned ‘Dis Aint What U Want’ a decade ago, the Lil Durk that exists here is nothing like that young prospect, because he’s grown into being himself. This is Durk Banks, a role model who aspires to be a leader in his community through motivational music, and philanthropic ventures like his foundation Neighborhood Heroes. This is an artist who has experienced the highest of highs in stardom, and the lowest of lows in grief. This is a man who wants to carry the names of the ones he’s lost along the way and champions them as he continues to triumph. Almost Healed is a device that introduces us to the real Lil Durk, and foreshadows another decade of success that he can now enjoy as himself.

Follow Lil Durk here for more and stream the new album Almost Healed here.

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