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Lil Durk - Just Cause Y’all Waited 2 Music Album Reviews

On his latest sorrowful dispatch, the drill veteran walks the line between reporter and preacher, gangster and citizen.

Who is going to save Lil Durk’s soul? There’s barely a moment on Just Cause Y’all Waited 2 where the drill veteran doesn’t sound on the verge of tears, ready to collapse in the recording booth, his voice trembling with pain. Nobody who has been paying attention will be surprised: Durk has been broadcasting an unvarnished depiction of South Side Chicago communities since around the time of Obama’s first presidential campaign. These are now areas of the city devastated by coronavirus—early reports revealed that black Chicagoans account for more than 70 percent of deaths from the virus, despite making up 30 percent of the population—and most likely to bear the brunt of prolonged economic recession. In this backdrop comes the latest tape from a man burdened for far too long, his spirit finally ready to rupture under the weight of an unjust world.
You can forget about finding a sense of catharsis on Just Cause Y’all Waited 2; Durk refuses to fill his music with false hope or easy answers. Never mind that he claims to be based out of Atlanta these days—his loyalty is to the people of Chi-Town. (Just last month he showed up at Rush University Medical Centre to help deliver meals to frontline workers.) Durk is not the most famous voice in rap to emerge from his hometown, but he’s probably the most detailed, the most compassionate, in his vision. In this latest study of the city, he walks the line between reporter and preacher, gangster and citizen.
The ghosts of lost comrades circle Durk’s music, rendering almost every cut sorrowful and spectral. In his hands, Auto-Tune has a bled-dry beauty; over the piano chords of “All Love,” his digitized voice accentuates the erosion of his spirit. Far from a one-note vocalist, he drops the effect on “248.” Durk has never been particularly interested in virtuosity for its own sake, and here he slides into a conversational style, sounding like he’s slumping back in a chair, recollecting for his biographer.

The elephant in the room doesn’t go unaddressed. About a year ago, Durk Banks handed himself over to authorities after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with a February 2019 shooting outside of Atlanta restaurant the Varsity. (Since he was granted bond, some countries have refused him entry to perform shows.) “Turn Myself In” was released shortly before he handed himself over to cops, so its inclusion here a whole year later feels pointed as Durk laments the situation, calls the accusation “false,” and thanks Chance the Rapper for helping to keep his spirits up. It’s not unreasonable to attribute some of the tape’s sense of suffering to the case ostensibly being unresolved.

When the atmosphere becomes suffocating, guest rappers help release the tension. “3 Headed Goat” lives up to its audacious billing as Durk amalgamates with rising Chicago star Polo G and ATL’s Lil Baby. On “Chiraq Demons,” he recruits G Herbo for a double dose of classic drill—all horror movie piano keys, crushing drums, and ample menace.

Just Cause Y’all Waited 2 does have setbacks. The chorus to the unremarkable “Gucci” is derivative of every hook that’s been formed around the luxury fashion brand’s name. And there’s no good reasoning for the inclusion of “Trifling Hoes,” an unnecessary shot of misogyny. It’s out of step with the rest of Just Cause Y’all Waited 2, a set that transforms Durk’s pain into one of his most emotionally potent tapes ever, and confirms what Chicago has known for ages: If you seek to understand the city in the 21st century, listen to Lil Durk.

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