The Backstory to Lil Durk and J. Cole’s “All My Life”

Earlier this year, Lil Durk announced that his eighth studio album, Almost Healed, would be released on May 12. However, just hours before the album’s scheduled midnight ET release, he decided to push it back to May 26. Instead of releasing Almost Healed on the 12th, he released the album’s lead single “All My Life,” which featured J. Cole. The song would reach No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, the highest position for any song with Durk as the primary artist.

On top of that, Durk announced on June 1 via Instagram that “All My Life” had been certified platinum by the RIAA. “Thank you very much. “I want to thank all of my fans for keeping me motivated, hungry, and not lazy and comfortable,” he wrote after learning the news.

Durk’s collaboration with J. Cole, in addition to tangible milestones like these, would be a huge source of pride for him.

Lil Durk and J. Cole

The Partnership
Durk first announced his collaboration with Cole in early April at the Dreamville Festival, which was hosted by Cole’s record label, Dreamville. “I was going to do [the festival] anyway,” he explained. “I wanted to do it anyway to get to the festival world, but me and J. Cole were also cooking up something.”

Durk would begin posting photos and videos from the set of the “All My Life” music video a few weeks after giving this quote, preparing fans for his epic first collaboration with Cole. Durk made his fans work for the song before releasing it, requesting 100,000 comments on the song’s promotional Instagram post in order for him to release it. They would soon reach this milestone.

A New Pathway
When “All My Life” was finally released, it was clear that Durk wanted to take a different path than usual.

The joint track with Cole would see Durk reflect on how he is viewed as a negative figure in society due to his rough upbringing, a departure from his hyper-aggressive, gang-involved lyrics and song themes. “All My Life” saw Durk hope to shed his previously shameful skin with its All my life / They been tryin’ to keep me down chorus.

J. Cole
Cole’s contribution to the song would also fit in perfectly with its themes. Cole, who is known in the industry as a poignant, well-adjusted figure, enacted his wisdom and grace on the track, which is evident in his Durkio told me he been on some positive shit intro and lengthy final verse, which touches on the tragic, violent deaths of many promising rappers.

These days seein’ rappers be dyin’, way before they even gettin’ they shine
I never even heard of lil’ buddy
‘Til somebody murdered lil’ buddy
Now I’m on the phone, searchin’ lil’ buddy name
Got ’em playin’ his tunes, all day in my room
Thinkin’, “Damn, this shit is wicked, to get they name buzzin’ some niggas just gotta go lay in a tomb”
And media thirsty for clicks
I got a new rule
If you ain’t never posted a rapper when he was alive
You can’t post about him after he get hit

Durk would be so moved by Cole’s verse that he would admit something he almost never does. Durk claimed in an interview with Complex while promoting Almost Healed that Cole outperformed him on the song, which he claimed was a rare feat.

“The number one thing, he smoked my ass on that, for one,” he explained. “Barely. That hardly ever happens. But kudos to Cole… We made it a reality.”

Shortly after, reports surfaced that Durk paid an exorbitant sum for Cole’s feature verse, estimated to be in the $1 million range. Cole’s manager, on the other hand, would deny this. However, given that it would quickly become the most successful song in Durk’s career, and with Durk’s team insisting that he wanted to win Grammys with this album, a price like that would have been worth it for the Chicago rapper.


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