Lil Durk is obviously grieving. The opening track lays out the reasons as to why, which also provides the background to this release. Aptly titled ‘Therapy Session,’ Alicia Keys is heard checking up on the rapper after the loss of both his brother and close friend King Von within a year.
Such unimaginable grief often needs confronting, which seems to be Durk’s aim on Almost Healed. However, whilst there are some moments of attempted introspection, the project is far too long and repetitive to leave any real impact.
It’s a shame, therefore, that Durk’s personal highlights don’t come at these moments of introspection, but rather when he’s rapping about the same gang violence that saw his friends and relatives killed. ‘Same Side’ features a catchy, almost electronic beat as Lil Durk and Rob49 go back-to-back on the ins and outs of street life, whilst single ‘Pelle Coat’ demonstrates Durk’s signature melodic rap, flowing to a typical piano trap beat.
A track-saving J. Cole verse on ‘All My Life’ poignantly reflects on the near-epidemic of rappers being murdered, in a rare moment when the album’s concept is well executed. Whilst we have come to expect this level of excellence from Cole, this does once again display how heavily Durk relies on features on Almost Healed.
Some fit perfectly; Future does his best to save ‘Never Imagined’. However, even most of the guest appearances are underwhelming. Kodak Black, which perhaps won’t come as a shock to listeners of his new release today, delivers some of the worst bars of the project on his verse on ‘Grandson’, whilst 21 Savage sounds equally lazy by the time we reach the tenth track. A posthumous Juice WRLD verse in 2023 is about as tasteless as it is poor; anything new from Juice’s estate nowadays is scraping the bottom of the barrel.
The instances in which Durk attempts to reflect on his grief largely fall short. ‘Sad Song’ and ‘Moment of Truth’ see Lil Durk contemplating his past relationships, yet are ruined by awful, whiny choruses on both tracks. Durk has proven he can sing, which is why it is such a shame to see him resort to ear-piercing auto-tuned vocals.
‘Never Again’ is a more positive moment of introspection, as Lil Durk reflects on former friends who have betrayed him. However, by the time we arrive at ‘Dru Hill,’ it does begin to feel as if you’ve heard the same song several times.
When you add on the repetitive content of guns and sex, and the occasional jaw-droppingly atrocious bar (like when he accuses an opposition gang member of “touchin’ on little boys… peadophilin” on ‘War Bout It’), you get a bloated, one-dimensional project that focuses very little on the concept at hand.
Lil Durk has so much to get off his chest and possesses the technical ability to do so, it is therefore unfortunate that in 21 tracks he manages to achieve so little.