“All My Life” by Lil Durk (ft. J. Cole)

“All My Life”, which was released on May 12th, marks the first single of 2023 that Lil Durk has headlined and the lead single from “Almost Healed”, his forthcoming studio album. That project, which is backed by Sony Music and Only the Family, the latter being the label Durk founded back in 2010.

This can be considered somewhat of an unexpected collaboration, as Lil Durk, who hails from Chi-town, is a street-based drill rapper, while North Carolina’s J. Cole is known for dropping more intellectual fare. But it was the former who specifically went out to enlist the latter. 

After all was said and done, Durk concluded that Cole ‘smoked his a-s on this one’, as in outperformed him on the song. But that’s a matter of perspective, as they both set out to do their thing on “All My Life”.

Lyrics of “All My Life”

Going back to the stark differences between the styles of these rappers, that fact is indirectly noted by J. Cole from the onset, where he implies that the reason he’s on a Durkio track to begin with is because the main vocalist wanted to drop a “positive” song. 

Positivity isn’t Durk’s usual fare. So in going that route, he decided to call on a fellow rap star who is more established in that regard. And Durk deciding to drop a track like “All My Life” may be part of an overall effort to straighten out his life that the rapper recently expressed.

Cole also lets it be known from the jump that on this song, he’s more interested in ‘just showing up and bodying some sh*t’, as in dropping the dopest lyrics possible as opposed to being “positive” or whatever. 

But that said, he does proceed to establish the theme of this piece, leading into the chorus as held down by Lil Durk. 

“All my life
They been tryin’ to keep me down”

The title of this song, in context (“all my life they been trying to keep me down”) is a roundabout reference to the various forces, such as unscrupulous cops as noted in the first verse, who set out to prevent the likes of Durk and Cole, i.e. young men from the ‘hood, from succeeding.

And so it is with the first verse. Durk verifies that currently, he is in fact ‘trying to better himself’. With that in mind, he goes about rationalizing his past behavior, such as engaging in criminal activity and getting locked up, as being attributable to growing up in a “system” that ‘ain’t give him a choice’. Put simply, such activities are the norm where he comes from.

J. Cole

Meanwhile, fans of J. Cole know that such a topic, i.e. making it out of the ghetto, is one of the regular themes he harps on. But whereas his verse commences along such lines, he doesn’t keep on it for long. 

Instead, Jermaine gets to ruminating about how some dudes, upon hitting a lick, think they have experienced conclusive success in life but then proceed to “fumble they bags”, as in not spend the money wisely, instead of ‘humbling themselves’, so they end back at square on.

He also addresses the topic of rappers being regularly murdered these days, many, if not most of which you never even heard of until such an unfortunate event transpires in their lives.  And eventually, J ends the verse by expressing the wish his own homeys are able to maintain such an income they are able to stay off the streets and avoid the life-threatening dangers one faces therein.

In Conclusion

So ultimately, once again taking the lyrics of the chorus into consideration, this can be considered the rappers’ ode to their resiliency. They ‘never thought they would make it out’ the ‘hood but have proceeded to do so anyway. 

In making that observation, Durk’s response is to strive to become a better person than when he was fully entrenched in the ways of the ghetto. And also as for Cole, his tone isn’t particularly celebratory but more along the lines of advising others that getting caught up in that life isn’t good for one’s overall health.

“Never thought I’d make it out
They couldn’t break me, they couldn’t break me”
All My Life

The Challenges of Living in the Ghetto are Real

Living in the ghetto is an experience rife with countless struggles. Although marked by hardships, it is a testament to the power of community and perseverance, even in the face of adversity. The challenges, however, are manifold and often interlinked.

Dealing with extreme poverty is one of the biggest challenges one has to deal with growing up in the ghetto. The poverty is often a relentless cycle that is almost impossible to break.

The limited economic opportunities alongside inadequate educational facilities, create a perpetuating cycle of disadvantage. The systemic issues relating to unemployment is very pervasive in the ‘hood. This often leads to limited financial resources, lack of access to quality food, clothing, and housing.

Safety and security are also issues you have to deal with living in the ghetto. High crime rates fueled by economic desperation are part and parcel of ghetto life.

People who live in these ghettos often live in constant fear. These can often lead to serious psychological issues. It affects every facet of their lives in a negative way. At the end of the day, their likelihood of achieving personal growth or development is severely reduced.

These are the challenges that Lil Durk and J. Cole talk about on “All My Life”. They are lucky to have successfully made it out of the ghetto. However, they know there are millions still stuck in these terrible places. So they use this song to shed light on the challenges they encountered during their ghetto-living years while giving hope to all those still stuck in such harsh environments.

Is this the first time Lil Durk is collaborating with J. Cole?

Yes. This track is actually the first time both rappers are officially working together on a track. According to Durk, while the song was in its early stages, he knew that only two rappers could contribute the energy he needed to the song. One was J. Cole. The other was Kanye West.

Your Comments

What are your thoughts on Durk and Cole’s “All My Life”?

The Positivity in “All My Life” is Impressive

We should always be grateful for rappers like Lil Durk and J. Cole who choose to use such platforms to address issues of the world and advocate for change.

This tune is a clear example of efforts aimed at shifting the mindset of young people towards positivity and away from negative influences. It is important for other artists to follow such exemplary leadership and create music that uplifts and inspires our future generations, rather than promoting harmful behaviors and attitudes. The impact of music on young minds should never be underestimated and it is crucial that we use it as a tool for positive change.”

– Charlotte

“You know, it’s really inspiring to see top artists like Durk and Cole collaborate to put out positive messages like what is contained in ‘All My Life’. It makes me think that if we all lifted each other up instead of tearing ourselves down and resorting to violence, the world could be such a better place.

We need more songs like this, ones that have a positive impact on people’s lives, especially the younger generation. It’s up to us to change the narrative and create a world that we want to live in. So, let’s keep supporting artists who use their songs to spread positivity and inspire change. Together, we can make a difference!”

– Kyle Gaynor

A Top Notch Tune

“I am not surprised by the tremendous support “All My Life” has received globally. As a devoted follower of J. Cole’s music, I know he doesn’t jump on any track unless it’s top-notch so I’m not surprised he was part of this masterpiece. Every time I hear the kids’ voices on the chorus, I feel an emotional connection that gives me goosebumps.

The message I perceive from ‘All My Life’ is that violence may never cease, and the world may never transform. However, the purity and innocence of the children who enter this world should always remain our priority. We should all play our roles in making the world a better place for generations unborn.”

– Martin Dauda

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