In the world of mainstream hip-hop nowadays, it’s hard to find an artist who’s truly unique and exceptional. More often than not, the rappers that have made it big in the 2010s have been trap rappers, fusing the autotuned crooning of T-Pain with the proto-trap flavorings of Gucci Mane. Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, Future, and Desiigner are just a few examples. As a result, it’s pretty surprising when a lone voice manages to break through the plethora of trendy rappers and produce something that is not only different but quality as well. And it just so happens that Lil Durk is that necessary voice.
It should be said as a disclaimer that there are some songs on 2X which—while enjoyable—fail to harness Lil Durk’s strengths. Specifically, these are the tracks that contain the biggest features on the album, namely “Hated On Me”, “So What”, and “She Just Wanna”. The first feels more like a Future single featuring Durk, the second is Young Thug with a sprinkle of Durk on the side, and the last is only memorable for Ty Dolla $ign’s gorgeous R&B singing. This doesn’t mean that these are bad tracks, since all three of them work as great summertime singles; they just don’t have nearly as much Lil Durk in them as they should.
It’s not that big of a problem, though, when the first half of 2X contains some of the best bangers of the year. The sweet hooks on “Money Walk”, “Glock Up”, and “Rich Nigga” are some of the most delightfully infectious choruses out there, especially the “Let the money talk” line on the former. Even in “So What”—which has unnecessarily raunchy lines such as “My bitch is mixed, she’s a mutt” and “Sticking my thumb in her butt”—the energy and level of personality is through the roof. For the first nine tracks, Lil Durk sounds determined and hungry on each and every beat, so much so that even his occasional vulgar and weak bars are somewhat excusable.
While the first half of 2X has memorable bangers, it’s the second half that really displays Lil Durk’s creativity and versatility. “Super Powers” is a hilarious track filled with lyrics comparing the Chicagoan to a modern-day superhero, while the closer “Make It Back” highlights a moodier and more introspective Durk that fans have rarely seen before. While these songs are definitely some of Lil Durk’s best work yet, it’s “My Beyoncé” that ends up being the star of the show, with a great love story/slow jam concept and singing from Durk himself that is leagues better than most trap balladeers and R&B crooners nowadays. To see the young Chicagoan meet expectations with nuanced bangers was great in itself, but to see him exceed those same expectations is incredible.
Leading up to the release of 2X, Lil Durk was faced with a gigantic dilemma: should he release his project as a full-length album or as a free mixtape to the fans? It’s a question that I asked myself repeatedly while listening to this album. “True” was nothing more than filler, but “My Beyonce”, “Super Powers”, and a slew of hard-hitting bangers were too well-done to be on a mixtape. Taken individually, the quality of each varies dramatically, but as a whole 2X is mainly a joyride through the best that pop rap and mainstream hip-hop have to offer, even if there are a couple of speed bumps along the way. It may be too vulgar at times, too straight-and-to-the-point, and a bit too generic, but no one can deny that 2X is Lil Durk through and through, and that’s what ultimately makes it the thrill it is.