Last week, Drake released “Laugh Now Cry Later,” the lead single from his forthcoming album, Certified Lover Boy. The accompanying video, which was shot in the Nike headquarters and stars high profile athletes like Kevin Durant, Odell Beckham Jr., and Marshawn Lynch, has already inspired countless viral memes on social media. But when it comes to the song itself, most fans are talking about Lil Durk.
The Chicago rapper draws us in with a syrupy delivery and lyrics about showing Drake around the hood. But one bar in particular is catching a lot of attention: “Can you not play that lil’ boy in the club? Cause we do not listen to rats.” Of course, there was immediate speculation that he was firing shots at 6ix9ine, who cooperated with the feds in his 2018 criminal case. While he’s short with his answer, Durk tells Complex that he wrote the lyric simply because he hates rats. Asked if he has anything else to say to 6ix9ine, he replies, “I don’t play those games. I don’t pay attention to niggas like that. I just hate rats, and he’s one of them.”
The praise Durk has been receiving is long overdue. As an important figure in the Chicago drill scene in the early 2010s, and an innovator of melodic trap music over the past decade, he’s finally receiving his well-deserved flowers. Durk says he’s heard a lot of positive feedback from fans, and the only real grievance is that his verse is shorter than what they would like. In fact, he reveals that Drake wanted him to say more on the track. He originally came up with two or three verses over FaceTime with Drake, but he says he left the studio a little too early during the recording process, and the song needed to be mixed the next day. So the “shorter version was on my end,” he says.
Nothing is going to mess up his moment, though. In addition to the “Laugh Now Cry Later,” Durk is still riding high from the success of his latest project, Just Cause Y’all Waited 2. He released the deluxe version at the end of June, and it’s still getting a lot of love. For now, he wants people to focus on the latest releases, but Durk says he has already started working on something new. And if you thought “Laugh Now Cry Later” was the only collaboration between him and Drake, think again.
Complex caught up with Lil Durk to talk about his new collaboration with Drake, Just Cause Y’all Waited 2, and more. The interview, lightly edited for clarity, is below.
When did Drake contact you for “Laugh Now Cry Later”?
It was actually a one-day process. He just hit me up. So we went back and forth on the song and we shot the video like two days later.
Did you go back and forth over the phone, or did you meet up in person?
It started with DMs. They just sent me ideas, and I would send them ideas. Then FaceTime. We just made it happen. We did like two or three different verses just through FaceTime.
So there were other verses that didn’t make the song?
Oh, when I sang on the verse, I left. I thought it was done. This was around the time the studio was really tripping about COVID. But when I had left the studio, it was supposed to get mixed the next day. So that being a shorter version was on my end.
A lot of people wanted your verse to be longer.
He [Drake] wanted me to go long… Shit, me too. I will fuck around and drop a freestyle now.
When you two were going back and forth over DMs, did you discuss the vision for the song?
Just do you. He was like, “Talk what you talk.” You know, when some people talk on the song they try to sound like who they’re on the song with. But he was like, “Talk your shit.” I was going bop bop.
As you know, a lot of people are talking about the “rat” lyric. Why did you decide to include that in there?
I said I hate rats.
People think the lyric was directed towards 6ix9ine. Is there anything you want to say to him?
No. I don’t play those games. I don’t pay attention to niggas like that. I just hate rats, and he’s one of them.
There are photos of you and Drake in 2014 that are being passed around. Was that the first time you two met?
No, I think that was the United Center? I don’t even remember. That’s crazy. I don’t even remember that picture. It had to my first time meeting him, but that was so long ago.
What was the atmosphere like on set of the “Laugh Now Cry Later” music video?
It’s a good energy, good vibe. Drake came along and gave me good energy, made me feel like family. And outside of that, Nike made us feel like family. It was a good video shoot.
Are there any specific memories or stories that come to mind during the shoot?
Jet skis. We had the camera on the jet ski, making the jet ski heavier. They told me, but I wasn’t really listening. When I got to speeding up, I flipped over with the camera.
“[Drake] wanted me to go long… Sh*t, me too. I will f*ck around and drop a freestyle now.”
What has the response been like since the song came out? Do you think this will open even more new doors and opportunities for you?
I just see love. I don’t even see negative energy. I just see all love. “I wish it was longer. I’m happy for you. It was your time. You’re the real definition of never give up.” I’m just taking it as motivation just to keep going.
The deluxe version of Just Cause Y’all Waited 2 came out two months ago. Did you record those songs at the time as the original album?
I stay in the studio. I’m a studio junkie. So, even if I did drive down there today, I’ll still record. I’ll still get in a day. Most of them really be new. So if I go in the studio and do five songs, and I play the five songs in a day and everybody rocking to it, they’re going on the album.
What goals did you set for that album? You mentioned a Grammy on Twitter. Are you still gunning for that next year?
Sure. I think every artist should go for a Grammy.
What goals did you set for Just Cause Y’all Waited 2?
I’m really just feeding the fans. My thing is to get new fans. So I love when people say, “Oh, I’ve heard of him before.” Or “I’ve never heard of Durk.” Or “I’m a fan of Durk today.” This is what I like to see, because it lets me know when I come out with something that it’s going to work.
What are you working on right now? Are you focused on the next project?
Yeah, we working. But until we figure out the next step, I just want everybody to focus on the Drake record and Just Cause Y’all Waited 2.
Going back to “Laugh Now Cry Later,” is there anything that will surprise us about that collaboration?
Yeah, it ain’t the only one.
So, you and Drake have more collaborations in the vault?
It ain’t the only one. I’ll leave it at that.
What are your thoughts on Chicago’s current music scene?
Strong. It grew. It died down kind of for a minute, but now it took back off. The young artists are out there tearing it up, keeping it alive, keeping the energy up.
Are there any misconceptions surrounding Chicago?
It’s a good city. Certain parts are good. Certain parts are bad in every city, but Chicago is beautiful.
What’s the most important thing people should know about you right now?
Just that I’m nice to everybody. And let me in that door, or it’s going to get real scary.