Lil Durk, whose real name is Durk Derrick Banks, grew up in Englewood, an area of Chicago that is frequently blighted by violence and gang troubles, with Durk himself growing up as a member of the Black Disciples gang. A life on the streets informed much of Lil Durk’s lyricism, which built up a strong local following after his OTF (Only the Family) mixtape series in 2011.
Singles “Sneak Dissin’” and “Ima Hitta” found critical acclaim, prompting Lil Durk to pursue seriously a career as a rap artist. With growing momentum, he followed his first mixtapes with “I’m Still a Hitta” in April 2012 and “Life Ain’t No Joke” in October the same year. In December, Lil Durk had scored a major label deal, with his debut single released soon after, a more melodic take on his “L’s Anthem”
Rising popularity brought Lil Durk opportunities to appear on tracks alongside fellow Chicago rappers, Lil Reese, Fredo Santana and Chief Keef, finding the young star new fans. In May 2013, “Dis Ain’t What U Want,” his second Def Jam single dropped, building anticipation for his new affiliation with French Montana, on his Coke Boys label.
His fourth mixtape, “Signed to the Streets,” was the first of this new collaboration, featuring a number roof other young artists including Lil Reese, Paris Bueller and Young Chop. The mixtape was a critical success, regarded as one of the best mixtapes of the year. Work on his debut album soon began, a project in conjunction with Def Jam and Coke Boys. However, tragedy struck in March 014 after Durk’s manager, Chino Agina, was fatally shot, only two days after a release date of May 2015 was announced for his first full-length effort.