Chicago hip-hop is blowing up, and one of its shining stars is Lil Durk. A mixtape veteran since 2011, he recently signed to French Montana’s Coke Boys imprint. His debut album, Remember My Name, dropped this summer.




How did you get into the rap game?

I was just trying to come up. I didn’t really have no opinion on rap. I was just trying to come out and do my thing, and it just popped off so I stayed to it. There ain’t really no crazy story behind it.


But you enjoy what you do, right?

Yeah, now I do.


How would you describe your sound?

Real rap. That’s it.


When did it hit you that you could really have a career in music?

I think it was when I did my first two songs, just going out there testing the waters. A fan saw me in Chicago and started taking pictures. That’s when it definitely hit me that, yeah, I could do this.


You’re signed to Coke Boys Records, which is a Def Jam imprint, but you also have your own label, OTF Entertainment. What can you tell us about that? Who do you have signed?

Yeah, we got Hypno Carlito. He’s also on my album. We got Lil Varney. We’re just building our own brand. I’m trying to get to what French was showing me, so I’m trying to show my artists the same things.


You have a large, loyal following on the Internet. Do you think that helped you get to where you are today?

Oh yeah. Today, you have to use the Internet. You have to use social media. It’s a big part of the business. Everybody don’t get paid on the radio. The first thing artists do is get on Twitter or Instagram to promote their music.


Do you think streaming services like Spotify and Tidal will have a negative impact on artists in the future?

I don’t think it will, as long as you have a core fan base that you can interact with on social media.  The music on your album is just a taste.


Your debut album is called Remember My Name. What is the significance of that title to you?

It’s just important to me that my name is remembered. I want to go down in history for what I do and what my artists do.


This is your first album, but you’ve made mixtapes before. Is making an album any different than making a mixtape?

It’s not that different, but you have to organize it more so that it really defines you. This is your first album, so it’s the way you want people to know you. You gotta make sure everything is on point. There’s gotta be all kinds of songs from everywhere. You really have to be able to stand behind the meaning of the album.


Last issue, we talked to your former labelmate Chinx just a few weeks before he was killed. He seemed to be trying to distance himself from the lifestyle depicted in a lot of his songs. What do you feel is the relationship between the violence in your songs and violence in reality?

When it comes to violence in rap, it’s just what we live. I’ve got a story to tell, and I tell it in my music. I’m not gonna change my story for anybody.


You’ve been heavily associated with the Chicago street life. Do you ever worry that those connections will hurt your career?

It is bad. There are a lot of things we need to clean up.


What’s next for Lil Durk?

I just want to work on my performances and get better at my craft. I want to aim right at the Grammys and these other award shows.


We can’t let you go without asking you this: Who’s your favorite SMOOTH Girl?

Aw man, I love ‘em all.