Lil Durk – Signed To The Streets 2
Record Label: OTF, Coke Boys
Release Date: July 7, 2012
Few up and coming rap artists had as big of a year last year as Lil Durk. The 21-year old rapper released Signed To The Streets after penning a deal with Def Jam, and the mixtape was among many publications' favorites of the year. The buzz generated helped land him a spot in XXL's freshmen class for 2014, and there's a serious case to be made for him being among the best in the class. Durk comes from Chicago, and his music stays true to the drill sound that has been cultivated in the city during the first half of this decade. Signed To The Streets 2, the follow up to last year's breakthrough mixtape, sticks to the formula for the most part, providing us with another collection of solid tracks to hold us over while we wait for his debut album.
Many of the songs on the tape elicit the same feelings of paranoia, anxiety, and general unease that permeated much of the first mixtape. Lil Durk is surrounded by violence, and he makes sense of it all through rapid fire verses that paint a picture of the dangerous streets of Chicago on songs like the opener "Read For Em." The beats are similarly dark, but songs such as "Rumors" and "Don't Know Me" are driven by flashy, shimmering synthesizers that offer a nice contrast to the more traditional orchestral bombast that appears on tracks like "Ten Four." Durk shows versatility on the beats, snapping from vicious bars to warbled auto-tuned singing in the blink of an eye. He blurs the line between singing and rapping throughout the entire tape, and this lends itself to some surprisingly catchy moments scattered throughout.
While most of the tape paints a violent picture of the life surrounding Lil Durk, there are also a number of tracks that have a celebratory feel to them. Considering the accomplishments Durk has had over the last year, it only makes sense that these triumphant songs would begin popping up more so than they did in the past, and thankfully the results aren't as jarring as you might expect from an artist like this. The Young Chop-produced "Party" offers up a song that teases a club build up before dropping into a typically masterful drill beat, and Young Thug offers his own distinct brand of blurring the line between rapping and singing. Elsewhere, "I Made It" finds Durk basking in the glory of his ascent to rap fame, even if the sentiment seems a little premature considering the heights he is sure to continue reaching.
Signed To The Streets 2 is definitely on the long side, which is pretty typical of mixtapes. The overall lack of diversity in the sonic palette can make it drag on a little bit even if a couple songs stray from the usual path, but when songs as strong as "Live It Up" and "Aint Did Shit" appear toward the end, it's easy to get sucked right back in. There's nothing here that really sticks out as being a weak point either, and the entire tape scans as another solid project from one of the genres rising stars. It gives us plenty of reason to get excited for his debut full length, all while providing us with a batch of songs that are pretty much of the quality you'd expect to find on a full length album.