How Lil Durk’s ‘Almost Healed’ Came Together

In October 2022, around four months after Lil Durk put out the deluxe version of his seventh studio album 7220, the Chicago rapper was quietly putting together the pieces for a collaborative album with Atlanta rap icon Future. To help him with this, he called upon a lesser-known California producer named ryderoncrack, who had not yet landed any major credits in his young career.

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ryder offered a few beats to Durk at the time and waited to see if they would be used for the eventual Durk-Future LP. Instead of following through with this project, though, Durk would release Loyal Bros 2 in December, a compilation tape for all the artists signed to his Only The Family record label. Loyal Bros 2 would include “Mad Max” as the second song on its track list, a joint song from Durk and Future.

During this time, Durk and OTF reached back out to ryder, explaining they wanted to use two of his beats for Durk’s upcoming solo album, putting the Future collaboration on the back-burner for the time being.

“I came in and I was working on the Future collab tape,” ryder says. “Then randomly, Durk’s engineer hit me up saying, ‘Yo, we need the stems for these two songs.’ I was like, ‘I had no idea the collab tape was dropping this quick.’ He said, ‘No this is for Durk’s solo tape.’”

So, from January to May, ryder alongside Durk’s team went to work on Durk’s eighth solo album, which was originally titled The Voice 2.0 and eventually renamed to Almost Healed. The writing and recording process for Almost Healed would heat up the most during Ramadan, which lasted from March 10-April 9 this year. Setting up studios at various Airbnbs in Los Angeles, Durk and his team hoped to avoid any distractions to his process.

“Everyone was locked in for a month straight in different Airbnbs,” ryder says. “[Durk] was either recording or asleep, there was no in-between. Or listening to beats… I’ve never seen someone work so hard at something. He said, ‘No bitches, no hoes, no nothin’. We’re staying on the album.’”

For a period of time during Almost Healed‘s creation, New York hip-hop star A$AP Rocky was helping to executively produce the album, ryder asserts. Currently, there are photos of Durk that are circulating the internet that were taken by iconic hip-hop photographer Gunner Stahl, a good friend of Rocky’s. These were intended to be used for creative aspects of the LP such as the album cover, and were part of Rocky’s contributions to Almost Healed. But, Durk ultimately decided to go in a different direction.

ryder also noted that the album’s track list was altered three or four times during this process. The two songs that he contributed beats for, “B12” and “You Got Em,” were both either altered or almost removed entirely. For a moment, “You Got Em,” the 11th song on Almost Healed, originally included a feature verse from Future. But, after the Durk-Future collaboration tape was postponed, Durk decided to only use his vocals on the song. Future still makes an appearance on the album’s seventh song “Never Imagined,” though.

Additionally, “B12,” the 15th song on the album, was almost replaced by a song with country music titan Morgan Wallen, which would have been the second Wallen appearance on the LP alongside “Stand By Me.”

But, now that Almost Healed has been released, it’s clear that every decision Durk made was sound and worthwhile. As of Wednesday morning (May 31), all 21 songs on the track list have eclipsed 2 million streams on Spotify, with the LP’s lead single “All My Life (feat. J Cole)” already at 50 million.

On Tuesday (May 30), HitsDailyDouble reported that the project is headed towards a debut of around 125,000-150,000 album sales, which would be the best first-week numbers of Durk’s career. Although it will likely reach a peak at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, considering it was released simultaneously with Taylor Swift’s Midnights deluxe, ryder insists that Durk is looking past the charts and instead at hardware for Almost Healed.

“They took their time with this one,” he says. “They’re really going after a Grammy for this. They don’t care about the No. 1 spot, they care about a Grammy nomination for Durk.”

To help promote his eighth album even more, Durk is expected to also put out a deluxe version of Almost Healed, which he tweeted about on Tuesday. Confirming that the making of the deluxe is already underway, ryder is confident that he will land another production placement on the upcoming release.

Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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