With last year's Signed to the Street mixtape, Lil Durk showed all the makings of a star with a versatility-laced flow that blended Auto-Tune crooning with unfiltered aggression and hard-hitting production. On his latest effort, the 21-year-old Chiraq MC brought some added ammunition to the booth.
Earlier this week, Durk revealed in an interview with VladTV that his recent feud with L.A. rappers Game and Tyga drove him to spit with even more ferocity on Signed to the Streets 2.
"That little beef s--t kinda raised the bar," Durk noted. "[People were] like ‘Damn, I can't wait 'til he come out with another project.' So, instead of an album, I just hit 'em with another mixtape."
Like on the original STTS, Durk paints a vivid picture of the illicit day-to-day activities necessitated by living in one of Chicago's roughest neighborhoods, but this one starts out even more fiery than the first with introductory song "Ready for Em," setting the tone for the first half of STTS 2.
"I can get better wit b-----s. I'm so fed up with these snitches/Smoke one for Pluto, I'ma put grass in these switches and sip on these pints with my n----s/They killin' my pride, B-----s they killin' my vibe/G full of money, but they asking for rides/Not me, ask one of my guys/I kill for one of my guys, we run from the dry/Remember them days I was starving/Empty stomach, no car, no money/These n----s be trickin', that's why I got shooters on dummy," Durk raps over the ominous track.
The mixtape continues like that. Songs like "War Wit Us," "Rumors" and "Don't Know Me," saw the young MC spitting more venom to foes and challenging any would-be competition. While on the Murda Beats-produced "Ten Four," Durk cleverly replaces the hook with the all too real sounds of a police scanner, giving the track an eerie, cinematic feel.
The production gets more dynamic and Durk continues to turn up on songs like "Hell in My City" and "Don't Take It Personal," which offers a special dedication to fair-weather friends.
"I told you I was down to ride, now where you was when I was fightin' all the homicides?/You wasn't with me in that war, but I don't take nothin' personal/I'm in that field where it get real/Where plastic ass n----s playin' with the steel/P-----s change for a little change, tryna hang where I hang/Then you got banged."
STTS 2 has a lighter side as well. Tracks like "Party" and "I Made It" (both produced by Young Chop) offer a look at an appreciative Durk celebrating success. "Live It Up" was another upbeat track and one of the mixtape's high points. Other standouts included "Feds Listenin,'" "Ain't Did S--t" and the French Montana-assisted "Fly High," which is about as close to a club hit as Durk comes on his latest effort.
But with 18 tracks, there was still a lot of filler. Songs like "What You Do to Me," "Gas and Mud" and "I Go" served as little more than yet another rendition of the Auto-Tune-heavy style made famous by Future in 2012.
As his own artist, Lil Durk establishes himself as a serious threat and a dangerous MC on Signed to the Streets 2. His charisma and authenticity are evident and even on the mixtape's low points, he shows that he can adjust his flow to work with various production styles. STTS 2 should keep the fans happy, at least until Durk drops his long-awaited studio debut.
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(Photo: Def Jam Recordings)