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The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Release 3-11-22-3-17-22, Lil Durk’s “7220” Reviewed

Talk about a hard knock life. When Lil Durk was a baby, his father was sent to prison for a double life sentence, and throughout the following 28 years, Durk’s life was filled with the gang violence at the heart of Chicago Drill. His manager, his close friend, his brother: all shot dead. Lil Durk himself nearly died when gang members invaded his home. This has been a problem for rap since Schoolly D, we thought Gangsta rap meant gangster but it might just as well mean Gangs -the Bloods and the Crips were at the heart of 2Pac and Biggie’s murders. ANd the gangs are all between the lines here.

Lil Durk was hustling from the get go, with his father in prison he went out to get food for the family, Lil Durk has mentioned that as a child he used to sometimes go hungry because there was no money for food. My father used to go hungry as a child as well and I can assure it, nothing changes you harder. Today, Durk is circling the highest echelon of rappers.

The breakthrough came in his 2019 when Love Songs 4 the Streets 2 took the romance out of violent and hit the top five, as did his next two albums, and then last summer he dropped his collaboration with Atlanta Trap superstar Lil Baby and went to number one, 7220 (named after the address where he grew up) is the follow up proper and it is a supremely professional self portrait of those self-same streets.

On The Voice of the Heroes, Lil Baby was the better rapper but Lil Durk the superior rhymer and Durk’s perpetual nervousness is undercut by Lil Baby’s braggadocio. 7220 is all Lil Durk and it is a clear eyed anti-romanticism including features with Gunna, Future, Summer Walker and, er, Morgan Wallen on the terrific “Broadway Girls”. Opening with a story so far, “Started From”, Durk is making his own way as he moves between the funeral home and the police HQ, “Head Tap” is a snapshot of right this minute, the third song a response (a nasty one) to YoungBoy Never Broke Again and the first widescreen drill stormer. The Morgan Wallen featured “Broadway Girls” is a top country crossover, better than Jason Aldean if not better than lil Nas X. But in between it goes on a bit. At 45 minutes in length it could have used some pruning, still Lil Durk is unwavering here, nothing dialled in and everything pounding its way to the top, which it will reach no doubt. If violence meets popularity is the name of the game, Lil Durk is the winner and not only becomes it isn’t cartoon violence, and there is always a price.

Grade: A-

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