Lil Durk’s name sounds like it was conceived by the South Park guys during a particularly ethnically insensitive fit. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t get as much attention as Chief Keef, who has emerged as the national apotheosis of  Chicago’s drill rap scene. It’s regrettable but understandable. Keef is the better narrative. He’s younger, lives with his grandma and is prone to Twittering LOL MURDER.

Nor is there a point to deny that “I Don’t Like” and “3Hunna” are the sort of jaw-breaking bangers that can fill the age-old rap quotient for making you want blaze firearms, toss furniture off balconies, or at the very least head bang in front of your computer screen. Diversity. I’m not from Chicago, so I won’t even pretend to have a pulse on the scene like Andrew Barber or David Drake, but the three of us can probably agree that Durk’s I’mStillAHitta was the most fully realized project to emerge from the scene this year.

Def Jam agreed too, giving Durk a deal that ostensibly amounts to: release mixtape after mixtape and hopefully, you’ll drop a video that cracks 5 milli YouTube views and maybe we’ll give you a national radio push. Should that work, maybe you’ll get your album released if you finish it before your buzz cools. This is also known as “The YG.” Dude has been the hottest street rapper in LA for four years running and he still can’t get an album near the eight physical stores still standing.

Durk might not be more popular than Keef or King Louie, but he’s not far off. He has at least three legitimate anthems, including “I Get Paid,” “I’m a Hitta,” and the appropriately titled “L’s Anthem.” All three of them are among my favorite songs this year and offer evidence that Durk might be the best bet for longevity out of any of the drill rappers. When I first heard about him, Barber compared Durk to A$AP Rocky crossed with Waka Flocka. But he reminds me a bit more of Future or Baton Rouge’s Kevin Gates. There’s the auto-tune and the big hooks, but also the desire to really want to rappity rap.

Unlike Flocka or Keef, Durk is more lyrical than the pop melodies and sad robot stylings would suggest. I mean, his first leak off his new mixtape, “52 Bars” has the same title as a Royce Da 5’9 song. Accordingly, there is no hook for this shit, but there is an eye for mythmaking. The video begins with a white on black script mentioning Durk’s recent arrest and subsequent release from the state pen. He shaves off his dreads in the first scene, signaling either his rebirth or his eradication of lice.

Either way, he unleashes four minutes of savage raps that touch on everything from his deal to his sentence to the 1979 Cubs. The last reference is a total non sequitur, but maybe he’s a big Rick Reuschel fan. King Louie might most resemble the portly stature of the pitcher nicknamed “Big Daddy,” but Durk’s my pick to be around next year. If he’s still free.

ZIP: Lil Durk – “I’mStillaHitta (Left-Click)

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