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One of this year’s most popular rap songs is “All My Life,” a singing-kid-chorus collaboration between the Chicago rap veteran Lil Durk and the superstar J. Cole. It is the most successful song of Durk’s career, which in the past three years has also included breakout collaborations with Drake, Lil Baby and Morgan Wallen.
And yet throughout this spotlight era, Durk has remained something of a cipher — not a household name, and still more of a cult favorite. How he’s courted new collaborators and listeners while maintaining his creative center is something like the model of contemporary rap stardom, in which remaining faithful to your core audience is no longer the limitation it was once considered to be.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about Lil Durk’s early years in Chicago’s drill scene, how he reinvented himself after major label fascination with drill waned and how he became one of rap’s biggest stars largely in the shadows.
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