The Rap-Up: The Gospel of Durkalini AKA Pyro Pillionaire

For the latest edition of The Rap-Up, Harley Geffner goes long about the presumed Milwaukee artist Durkalini, his pluggnb instincts and his sharp, creative raps about the street life.
By    December 19, 2023

Image via Durkalini/Instagram

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Harley Geffner says it’s crazy you have to pay to get in places to buy things.

Durkalini – “BMF Part 4”

Durkalini goes by a few names. His aliases include Pyro, Pyro Pillionaire, The Pillionaire, Mr. Cornelius, BKA Lini, and The Pastor. He looks like if Birdman grew up in Milwaukee listening to Bear1Boss and Black Kray. He’s also deeply religious, and every instagram caption is a full-length sermon. Based on these facts alone, he’s already in my top 5.

The first thing that catches your eye is his look: like a hood teddy bear with grills. But then his voice comes hovering in, somewhere between early Lil Yachty and Yuno Miles. It’s artistic absurdity but not to an absurd scale. He’s not doing a bit either, he really is like a preacher, serving life lessons on success, manhood, and everything that comes with going up and losing friends along the way. His instincts are pop and pluggnb-leaning and his clipped hooks descend down like a gold-dusted cloud. But his content is distinctly cyber street, with bars like, “he not livin’ right cuz he trappin off snapchat,” and word choices that’ll catch you off-guard like when he says he’s tryna “live a random life that they don’t know ‘bout.”

I’d presumed that Pyro grew up in Milwaukee given that he shouts out other Milwaukee artists and he hits the 50k Stasher dance in a few of his videos, but I couldn’t clock anywhere that where he explicitly says it. I saw a few commenters ask if he was from Connecticut, but he lives in LA now, per one of his mini vlogs..

If you see what he looks like and hear what he sounds like, you might immediately assume it’s a non-substantive gimmick, but it’s not. He’s a sharp writer, mixing his analogue trap raps about moving weight in creative ways, with an ability to needle to the heart with lines about money making him cry or the value of growing up poor. He also has deceptively nimble flows, swerving at unexpected angles in sudden ways. The lo-fi nature of the songs, unmixed and almost exclusively shot on slightly blurry and shaky cameras in corner stores adds to the mystique. He only has a few features and one of them is RX Papi.

His look and sound will grab hold of you, but it’s the sharp one liners that give it the staying power for me. Since I first heard Durkalini a few weeks ago, it’s been hard to listen to almost anything else. Every song has multiple parts, sometimes where it’s the same song with a subtle new thing added to the beat. There’s “PYRO ISLEY PART 3” or “WASH MY FACE PART 4.” The titles are easy to click, all caps, with references to things like DOUG DIMMADOME, and he makes it easy, occasionally dropping slowed versions of his own songs. He films vlogs that are all set to his own music too. It feels like an early stage of some deep world-building.

For my money, I’d pin his sound closer to that of Makonnen than anyone else. It’s playful in a way that’s not too too silly, with beats that hold just enough weight to ground it. His musical instincts are elite, and I can already hear the Drake hook.

I wanted to share a few of his songs that rewired my brain chemistry over the last few weeks. But honestly, as the great Lucas Foster once said, “just listen to a few and let the YouTube algorithm rock.” His discog is plenty deep given that he posts a video almost everyday.

Durkalini – “East Coast P”

Durkalini – “Imaginary Killer”

Durkalini – “Interstate 3”

Durkalini – “HI I’M PYRO”


Durkalini – “WTF SON”

Durkalini – “iPhone 6”

Durkalini – “God’s Child”

Emptying the Chamber

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