Lil Durk’s long rise is well documented. From exploding in the drill scene to an underwhelming transition into pop-rap, all the way to building his way up to the top again, the long game isn’t a stranger to the Chicago rapper’s work ethic. When ‘I’m A Hitta’ captured the internet in 2011, he began creating a fanbase with mixtapes like Signed To The Streets. When label-backed albums like Remember My Name and Lil Durk 2X didn’t perform as expected, he returned to his cult-like followers with mixtapes like 300 Days, 300 Nights. And now that he’s riding a hot streak and attracting new loyalists with projects like The Voice and the Lil Baby-assisted Voice Of The Heroes, Durk has decided to create a moment that pays homage to the hard times of his past, and the earned luxuries of his prime spot today. This moment comes into the form of his new album 7220.
The title refers to his Grandma’s address, which he deems as “the house it all started in.” The motive becomes clear as soon as the album starts; this collection of tracks represents a series of confessions. It finds Durk at his most personal, and not in the form of cliched recaps, but open-book passages of vulnerability. This is evident in the opener ‘Started From’, where he croons “Granny got Alzheimer’s, but I can’t forget how she kept it real”. After a decade of providing himself, Lil Durk has begun to reveal the person behind the larger than life moniker.
As you continue listening, you can hear that 7220 is also a display of Durk’s multi-faceted emotions, and the style he chooses to accompany them. He delves into every feeling with a different sound, supported by an A-list cast of producers that include Southside, TM88, and more. Songs like ‘AHHH HA’ find him harnessing his aggressive side, using the struggles of the street life and the loss of friend and collaborator King Von as a muse to vent in a fiery way. ‘No More Interviews’ uses emotional melodies to speak on the toxicity of fame and the pressure it can place on artists. ‘Difference Is’ serves as the album’s rap ballad, where Durk taps into a passionate warble talking about his significant other. It’s like every song is journal jotted down with reflection, with each page marking a different colour.
Like many journals, Durk voyages 7220 mainly by his lonesome but does bring a small supporting cast of features to help enhance the messages he’s conveying. Summer Walker stands out on the latter mentioned ‘Difference Is’, adding perspective to the rapper’s audio love letter. Gunna finds common ground with Durk on ‘What Happened to Virgil?’, where both mourn the death of legendary creative Virgil Abloh while looking back on past losses with sombre transparency. Future enhances the pettiness of the swagger-heavy banger ‘Petty Too’, and Durk even kickstarts a country fusion with Morgan Wallen on ‘Broadway Girls’. 7220 is free of a bloated guest list, and much like the styles Durk chooses to use, every feature appears to help strengthen the emotions of this opus.
In October 2013, Lil Durk rapped “What I explain ain’t got to be understood” on the Signed To The Streets cut ‘Introduce Me’. Now, a decade later, he’s helping us understand it with 7220. The album marks the artist at his most vulnerable, using his Grandma’s address to jump off the porch, and into a whirlwind of feelings that spiral through gratitude, anger, sadness, and motivation. With every story he tells, a different style ensues, pinpointing Durk as one of the most versatile in the game, and providing something to suit the taste of all the fans he’s generated throughout his decade of work. Features on the album are few and far between, but when they do appear, they are used to enhance the stories Durk has penned down. An artist rarely reaches their prime after so long on the grind, but Durk’s lineage of consistency, facing the odds, and staying true to his family have culminated in 17 tracks from the heart. With the way he’s spitting on 7220, we wouldn’t be surprised if that ascension continues as we trudge on with the decade, and Durkio brings out more stories to tell.