Lil Durk is one of the upcoming American Rappers from Chicago. He was born as Durk Banks and later adopted the stage name Lil Durk. He started showing interest in music from a young age and self-released his early mix tapes through his own OTF (Only the Family) label. After his initial success, he started considering music as his full-time career option starting from the early 2010. He later signed with the recording label ‘Def Jam Recordings’ and is now rated by analysts as the best rapper to be associated with the prestigious recording label. The violent neighborhood where he was born and brought up had an adverse impact on his family. His father was imprisoned for life in the year 1994 on drug related charges and his family faced financial hardships during his childhood. Chicago’s street violence had an impact on many of his early releases.
Childhood & Early Life
Lil Durk was born on October 19, 1992 to Dontay Banks and a nurse in Chicago. The name of his mother is not known. He has a brother, D Thang, who is also seen in some of the videos of Lil Durk.
He had to shoulder responsibility at a very young age as his father was jailed when he was just 7 years old. In an interview to a magazine, Lil Durk recalled that there was not even enough food in their home when he was young.
The violent neighborhood in which he was brought up had a deep impact on Lil Durk. During his teens, he was incarcerated briefly on charges of possessing weapons.
He did not receive any support to learn music in his childhood and learned on his own watching music videos on TV. He considered rap as a full-time career after the success of his two singles ‘Sneak Dissin'’ and ‘I'ma Hitta’.
He started his first break through social media channels like Myspace and YouTube. He was encouraged when his online fan base started growing rapidly. Durk could focus more on his career after he became a father at a very young age of 17 as he felt more responsible in raising people dependent on him.
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In the early years of his career, Lil Durk was associated with the Glo Gang label promoted by another Chicago-based rapper, Chief Keef. But he was never signed into the label. Due to this reason Lil Durk started to create his own image in the music world.
After the success of his first two singles, Lil Durk released a mixtape called ‘Life Ain’t No Joke’. This mixtape was downloaded 216,000 times on the online mixtape distribution platform DatPiff. Social media platforms played a big role in popularizing ‘Life Ain’t No Joke’.
In December 2012, Lil Durk released a new track called ‘L’s Anthem’ which featured French Montana and became very popular.
The popularity of ‘L’s Anthem’ helped Durk to enter into a joint venture with Def Jam Recordings. His fourth mixtape, ‘Signed to the Streets’ was released on October 14, 2013. The mixtape was exclusively released on DatPiff under the Coke Boys and OTF (his own) labels. A sequel to ‘Signed to the Streets’ was released in July 2014.
The year 2015 marked a giant leap in his career with the release of his first album, ‘Remember My Name’. The album is full of songs based on the street violence of Chicago that he experienced in his childhood. The album was a big hit and ranked fourteen on the Billboard 200 list. But the sales of the album lagged with just 24,000 copies sold in the first week after its release. But a single in the album ‘Like Me’ made the album a sleeper hit as the song was downloaded/streamed multiple times on platforms like iTunes and Spotify.
On December 15, 2015, Lil Durk released his sixth mix tape called ‘300 Days, 300 Nights’. A single, ‘My Beyonce’ was released to promote this mix tape. The single featured his love interest Dej Loaf. Critics called this mix tape as a refreshing change from his earlier releases which mostly chronicled drug violence in the neighborhood where he was born. The mix tape was received very well by his fans and solidified the image of Lil Durk as a growing star in the American music industry.
His second album, ‘Lil Durk 2X’ was released on July 22, 2016. A single called ‘She Just Wanna’ featuring another rapper ‘Ty Dolla Sign’ was released two months before the release of the album with the objective of creating buzz around his second album. Durk’s second label got a better response than the first one.
The third mixtape released by Durk, ‘Life Ain’t Joke’ after failing to become part of the Chicago based music label remains one of his major works till date. It made him confident about making a full-time career in music.
The success of his first album ‘Remember My Name’ set the stage for Lil Durk to emerge as a talented musician. The album was also ranked number 2 in the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Awards & Achievements
In the year 2016, Lil Durk was named as the Rapper of the year by the famous music blog ‘Underground Interviews’.
Personal Life & Legacy
Lil Durk is married to Nicole Covone and has two sons named Zayden and Angelo and a daughter, Bella.
In the year 2014, Durk’s cousin McArthur Swindle was murdered by mobsters in Chicago. McArther Swindle was working to become a rapper was working with Lil Durk and was part of his OTF crew at the time of his murder.
In the year 2015, Lil Durk’s manager Uchenna Agina was shot and killed by mobsters of Chicago. This hit Lil Durk very hard as he and his manager used to campaign against mob violence in America.