Lil Durk – Signed to the Streets 3

 The most prominent/last man standing (sadly, both literally and figuratively) when it comes to the Chicago drill scene is back with the third installment of the cult classic Signed to the Streets trilogy. Durk released his original Signed to the Streets mixtape in 2013 during the height of the drill wave. After Chief Keef, Lil Reese and Fredo Santana (RIP), Lil Durk rose to prominence as yet another young street rapper from Chicago’s south side. Even though he wasn’t the first nor the biggest artist of the era, Durk is the only one left with a sizable fanbase and relevant buzz in 2018. Despite his numerous legal issues, childhood friends and label mates getting murdered and/or going to prison, and feuds with many other rappers, Durk has not only managed to get out of the treacherous streets of Chicago but also carve out a nice little career for himself thus far as a successful hip-hop artist. He’s known for his melodic cadences and for spilling his heart and emotions into his music in a way that not many artists that come from his world have the courage to do. Through his unique style, he’s built a core fanbase that still rocks with his music to this day well after the drill scene has come and gone. With all of this said, it’s time to see what’s really REALLY good with this project.  

Scouting Report

  • Uses melody almost exclusively; lots of autotune in his music, but does not lean on it as a crutch, sounds natural and doesn’t overdo it with the singing voice
  • Most of his subject matter has to do with his upbringing on the streets of Englewood, Chicago but also is not afraid to show his emotional side regarding both love interests and his own feelings
  • Has primarily stuck with a rendition of the sound that broke him out in the drill wave, but also has evolved with the times and sounds good on modern trap production as well
  • Best Songs released before Signed to the Streets 3: “Dis Ain’t What U Want,” “Bang Bros,” “Like Me (feat. Jeremih)“, “Real,” “Nobody Knows
  •  Best Project released before Signed To the Streets 3: Signed to the Streets

Track-by-Track

If need be, reference here for a complete guide on how I score tracks and albums.   

  1. Treacherous: Nice touch on the Buckethead sample, one of the best beats on the project. Durk goes off in two long verses letting all of his thoughts and pain out. Simple but emotive chorus. 4/5
  2.  Don’t Talk to Me (feat. Gunna): Durk and Gunna combine here on an anti-thot anthem where they both melodically rap about mostly cliche rap topics and flexes. Underwhelming collaboration. 3/5
  3. Spin the Block (feat. Future): Catchy and fast-paced instrumental. Future gives us a respectable but not SuperFuture hook. Durk and Future both give long but average verses, decent but not their best. 3.5/5
  4. Neighborhood Hero: Somber instrumental complete with a harp and heavy bass. Durk melodically raps his ass off on both of his verses here, talking that street shit but also giving us his heart. Good and emotional hook also. 4/5
  5. 100 Grand (feat. Ty Dolla $ign & A Boogie wit da Hoodie): Simple but lots of bass and hi-hats Ty has a very catchy hook and verse to start off. Durk has a good verse as well, A Boogie underwhelming but doesn’t ruin the song. 4/5
  6. Habit: Piano-laden heartfelt slow instrumental. Durk gets into his feelings here where he talks about all of the bad habits he and his friends have gotten themselves into through street life. Paints both sides of the coin, pain in the hook. 4.5/5
  7. Skrubs: Another slower instrumental, Durk talks about the struggles of a single rap star, gets in his bag for the ladies on this one, interpolates TLC’s No Scrubs. Admits to not being the best guy, hook is not his best. 3.5/5
  8. Play With Us (feat. Kevin Gates): Somber but faster paced instrumental, Durk threatens all of his adversaries on a melodic hook. Talks about the pitfalls of the streets as well as some low key flexes, Kevin Gates gives us the same. 4/5
  9. Preach: Guitar and hi-hats all over this instrumental. Durk goes in with the fast flow for the majority of the verses, not as melodic, hook is the exception there. Good song. 4/5
  10. India, Pt. II: Sequel to India, a tribute to his girlfriend. Instrumental is faster paced than original, and more lust than love here subject-wise. Durk experiments with his voice with a falsetto, turns out well. 4/5
  11. Spazz: Vocal chants and etheral synth in the beat, holy vibes with trap drum backing. Durk raps yet again about street dealings, hook isn’t his best. 3/5
  12. Home Body (feat. Gunna & TK Kravitz): Earlier release. Durk and company are back on the lusty tip, talk about how they like girls that don’t like to go out but like to do freaky shit in the bedroom. Gunna has a better verse than the earlier song he was on. 3.5/5
  13. Benihana (feat. Kodak Black): One of the best beats on the project, guitar and synths complete the eerie vibe. Kodak has one short verse in the beginning, Durk steals the show after that. 4/5
  14. I Know: Another fantastic instrumental here, softer and slower but fits mood. Durk spills out his heart and speaks on some very personal matters regarding his family and close friends. 4.5/5
  15. Astronomical: Fast-paced instrumental from 808 mafia, Durk matches it with a faster flow in the beginning but loses steam. No hook, just straight flow from Durk throughout, wish he kept the fast pace the whole time. 3.5/5
  16. Downfall (feat. Young Dolph & Lil Baby): Simple, piano-laden instrumental. Durk, Dolph and Baby all rap about the love that they have for their people, and how that and the nature of the streets will be their end, all give strong verses. 4/5
  17. Did for the Streets: Slow and somber instrumental here from OG Parker. Durk talks about his humble beginnings with his friends in the trenches, spoken word interlude about how badly he doesn’t want someone else to take him out. 4/5
  18. Is What It Is: Eerie but faster paced instrumental. Catchiest hook on the project. Durk goes in on both of his verses here, one of the better rap performances from him, not as melodic. 4/5
  19. Way More: Instrumental is slower, includes simple piano melody Sticks with the ever-present theme of going to the end with his brothers that he came up with and fake friends and disloyalty. 3.5/5
  20. Rockstar (feat. Lil Skies): Appropriate electric guitar pulsing through this instrumental. SoundCloud rapper Lil Skies is an odd collab on the surface, but the subject matter of drugs and the overall sound make it make sense. 3.5/5

Final Thoughts

Durk gave us a lot of himself on this project as he usually does. Lil Durk should be applauded for the depth he goes into his emotions on his projects and the amount of his soul he chooses to bear to his listeners. His best songs on this project to me were the ones where he got the most personal. Regarding the rest of the songs, Durk’s penchant for melody and sonic identity will rarely disappoint his fans with a trash song, and that is also the case here. He even experiments with his voice in ways we hadn’t heard before which was a nice touch creatively. However, a lot of the themes he speaks about get redundant halfway through the album’s duration. Clocking in at 20 tracks and 1 hour and 10 minutes, he gave us too much material. The project has a lot of good songs, more of them than mediocre ones, but getting through a project of this length is exhausting unless the material is of five-star quality all the way through. My main takeaway from the third installment of his iconic series is that while it was mostly good, it needed to be at least 6 tracks less than what it was. Other than that, respectable effort from the now longest-tenured drill artist in hip-hop; he fed the fans what they were looking for.

Final Score: 75/100

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