Lil Durk: ‘Every time I feel like I’m just chilling, I go 10 times harder.’
Lil Durk started rapping 10 years ago, and today he’s recognized by his fans and peers for his signature melodic style and memorable lyrics. He’s also still finding new energy: In the past year alone, he’s amassed over 1.2 billion views globally on YouTube and earned over 1 million new subscribers on his Official Artist Channel.
Durk’s music is consistently reaching YouTube’s Top Songs chart in the U.S. With eight entries on the chart, his latest collaboration with his Only the Family rap collective “Hellcats & Trackhawks” rose to #15 this week, with Durk also appearing on Pooh Shiesty’s “Back in Blood” (#3) and Coi Leray’s “No More Parties (Remix)” (#5). His songs are also breaking across the globe, landing on the Top Songs chart in 15 markets, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, and Nigeria. He spoke about what he’s learned in the past decade, and the personal growth that’s accompanied this phase of his career.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You’ve called yourself a melody guy. What does that mean to you?
Lil Durk: I’ve been making music for a long time. And I’ve created my own lane, whereas if another artist is rapping, they say, ‘Oh you sound like Durk.’ There are a lot of great artists who have the same sound, but they know where it started, so that’s a compliment to me.
You have to watch your peers. You have to see the competition.”
At this point in your career, how do you think about your videos, and your music on YouTube?
Lil Durk: YouTube is the biggest. And important, overall. My go-to platform to look at music, info, videos. If I have a moment, I just let YouTube play. You have to watch your peers. You have to see the competition.
When you set out to make a video these days, what’s your approach? What makes a video feel successful, to you?
Lil Durk: With a lot of streaming going on, I pay attention to numbers. The main thing is to gain subscribers and do the numbers. If I drop a video and its numbers are over or under the last one, I know the difference and what I have to work on. I know my fans. They like when videos are natural, just shooting a day in the life. I’m not too big on treatments, just cause that’s what works for me, natural shooting. My videos get the most views when everything’s organic.
Tell me about the collaborative project you dropped in March.
Lil Durk: My group is called OTF, Only The Family, and the Loyal Bros project is our opportunity to show people a different side of what we do. Different artists have different sounds. People gotta be seen and gotta be heard. I love seeing it. We are definitely getting the recognition we have been looking for for a long, long time. We sit amongst each other and talk about how far we’ve come. Every year we try to grow.
You’ve been releasing music for a decade, but in the past year you’ve seen more success than ever. What are you doing differently?
Lil Durk: In this past year, I’ve had different features, had different energy. I’ve been learning more about myself, opening up more. I’ve been shooting more content, staying consistent.
Why would I get to this point and stop?”
What does being consistent mean to you now, at this time in your life?
Lil Durk: Being here for so long, I just know, I have my foot on the gas, and don’t stop. Why would I get to this point and stop? Every time I feel like I’m just chilling, I go 10 times harder. More ideas, more energy. The goal is to be on every project that comes out. Staying relevant, hungry, and humble.
Looking back, are there things you wish you’d known when you were starting out? Looking forward, what are some of your goals, for your career and your life?
Lil Durk: I have achieved a lot of goals, and overcome a lot of pain. But I’m glad that everything that’s happened, happened. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it hadn’t. I feel like I got a lot more to accomplish, though. I’m just staying more so on the humble side. I never look at it like, ‘Oh yeah, I did that in time for Grammys or awards shows or a new movie.’ I never look at it like, ‘I’m already good.’ I’m still growing. I got a lot of projects coming out. The goal is to make them big, make them feel good. Basically just overcome big obstacles, triple our numbers, triple the accomplishments. Sky’s the limit.
Lil Durk’s YouTube playlist:
Lil Durk - 3 Headed Goat ft. Lil Baby & Polo G (Directed by Cole Bennett)
- “Cole Bennett is one of my go-to directors. He’s different and creative. He chooses his own videos and doesn’t let anyone run him.”
- “Jerry Production is one of the best directors. He’s made some of my favorite videos.”
Billie Eilish - Therefore I Am (Official Music Video)
- "You have to pay attention to what's going on in different worlds."