Date: June 5
"Get caught with another slammer, they say they first offer ten." This lyric, from Lil Durk's "52 Bars," was the first thing that came to many fans minds when they found out that the Glory Boyz Entertainment rapper had been clipped by police with another gun charge. Not good news for Chief Keef’s Chicago crew.
We had just seen Durk, a few days earlier, when he stopped by the Complex offices. Soft-spoken and reserved, he presents very differently in person then he does on-record—where he delivers blunt, straightforward street rhymes with the searing urgency of Meek Mill. On "52 Bars," the rapper pays homage to Jay-Z with a "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"-style flow. (The title, “52 Bars” references Jay's lyrics on that song as well.)
The key element of Durk's appeal, though, is a more abstract skill, one that transcends influences and references points. As Guru put it, “it’s mostly the voice.” Durk's cuts through the music, creating new lines of melody, and raising the hairs on your arm. "Dis Ain't What You Want," the lead single from his hopefully-still-upcoming Def Jam debute, is the best articulation of this style to date. (The video for the song was shot on South Green street, the same street where Durk was arrested Wednesday). Unlike Keef, who seems to have regular dalliances with the law, Durk’s kept his nose clean in recent yearsm focusing on his career. Like Keef, he bought a house outside the city. But as we’ve learned so many times before, artists coming from neighborhoods like Durk’s Englewood often have a hard time leaving the ’hood behind.
We talked with Memphis’s Project Pat about the subject recently, and he described what it was like. "You’ve got to do it on some realness with yourself, keep it real with your family and of course always keep it real with those that stuck around you," he told us.
"But as far as living conditions, you’ve got to get away from that. I’m from North Memphis all day, but I’m not finna be living in no North Memphis. If somebody see me walk out the house in North Memphis, I got a few guns in that motherfucker, and one on me when I walk out the door. When they see me in North Memphis, the police are automatically going to start harassing me, because they think I’m on something. They’re going to say, “Well, you’re living over here, so I know you got a strap.” I ain’t got time for that."