“The Voice” of Lil Durk


The cover art of “The Voice” features a picture of Durk and Von just months before the incident and serves as tribute to close friend and labelmate.

Savannah Abajian, Feature Writer

“I use the studio as my drug. That’s where I relieve everything at,” said Chicago rapper Lil Durk. Lil Durk’s upbringing in the violent, poverty stricken Chicago south side hoods, and evolution to creating music that now sits upon billboard charts, makes Durk a true Chicago legend and  hero. 

Durk’s music tells his story through his lyrics, illustrating the lifestyle and struggles throughout his early life and career. Durk’s fifth studio album, “The Voice” paints a sad picture portraying the themes of loss, heartache, addiction and inner demons.

Durk’s early life as a young black male growing up in Chicago’s south side presented him with extreme adversity during his crucial developmental stages of childhood and young adulthood. “I was 17 and out of school, living with my mom, starving, not eating, getting locked up, no focus, no guidance,” Durk said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in 2015. Many never made it out of the hood, but that was different for Durk, as many never expected to see him escape out of the vicious poverty cycle of Chicago’s inner city neighborhoods. 

However, Durk’s rise to fame during Chicago’s upswing of drill in the early 2000’s started with his newly signed label with Def Jam. He released early mixtapes which began the skyrocket of his career. Durk’s melodic and soulful approach, mostly unseen within the Chicago drill scene, boosted Durk from the shadows and into the mainstream public eye. He slowly phased out of his commonly known drill of his early career and into the era of an R&B based rap technique, more common within recent times. 

“The Voice”, released December 2020 dives into Durk’s inner struggles as an artist from the hood, as well as pinpointing the grief from late Chicago rapper, King Von who was shot and killed during an Atlanta shootout in November 2020. Von, Durk’s childhood friend who he signed to his OTF label in 2018, was on the come up to stardom in which was tragically cut short. “Death Ain’t Easy” describes Durk’s struggle with death within his lifetime and his emotions growing up around loss everyday. 

On “The Voice,” the record’s namesake, Durk is put into a confessional position, describing his anger towards himself and those around him when taken advantage of. Durk also ventures into self evaluation as one in battle with his inner addictions and afflictions, despite his large income and money making that many believe will solve his internal traumas. In “The Voice” Durk says, “I was scared how that money made me” ultimately emphasizing his struggle with money and how it transformed him into the person he never wanted to be. He follows this up with “Felons can’t vote right? I can’t even vote for who I believe in.” Here, he is displaying his anger towards his past and what the recklessness from his fame made him into. Durk effectively captures the pain he is trying to convey within the song, and reaches his audience’s emotions.

Along with this, Durk also mentions his struggle with addiction in various forms. “When I’m Lonely” describes Durk’s addict struggles with drugs, money, and weapons. He says, “I’ve been stuck in the trenches, I dance with the devil” followed by, “I take drugs when I feel lonely, I ride with my gun when I feel lonely.” Durk truly presents his innermost battles in the context of addiction, comparing it to dancing with the devil all to patch the pain of loneliness.

Overall, Lil Durk’s “The Voice”  paints a clear picture of personal tragedy within himself as a result of his past, in which he effectively portrays within the album and his lyrics.  The album is a true gem to Lil Durk’s discography, being one of his most heartfelt and personal albums to date. I recommend this album to any Chicago rap fans looking for a true and authentic narrative of Chicago youth and their life and struggles. Lil Durk successfully portrays a legend who rose from an impoverished childhood to fame and fortune as an adult. Not only does this make him a hero, but one who will inspire the city and community for years to come.