Lil Durk performs at the Lollapalooza music festival last July in Chicago.

Lil Durk performs at the Lollapalooza music festival last July in Chicago. (Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Note: After spending some time fluctuating at the top of the chart, Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” came in at No. 1 on the most recent Hot 100 chart. Because we wrote about that song in April, we figured we’d move on to what landed at No. 2 this week.

It’s as close to a sure thing in modern pop music as you can get: Find a hip-hop artist not as well-known in the pop world (Lil Durk), pair him with a seasoned vet who does have name currency in the pop world (J. Cole), offer a set of reflective lyrics aimed at being more conscious than what fans are accustomed to hearing in the hip-hop neighborhood of the pop world, throw a children’s choir behind for the hook, and boom, you have a hit. Durk and Cole do right by the formula here, a brand-new addition to the Hot 100 that happens to be so successful, it debuted in the second spot on the chart.

It's not without reason. Memorial Day is in the rearview mirror now, and summertime often means feel-good time in Pop Land. That in mind, there are worse ways to start the unofficial beginning of the new season. Though it’s Durk’s song, Cole shines the most with stanzas that tackle everything from law enforcement to his own (at this point, somewhat tired) flirtation with retirement, to, of course, the dreaded media. Perhaps the most poignant moment comes when the North Carolina MC addresses deaths of his fellow peers. “I never even heard of lil’ buddy / ’Til somebody murdered lil’ buddy,” he admits before offering up a worthy piece of advice: “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 / It's simple, it's the principle.” With the amount of young, relatively unknown hip-hop artists who seem to keep dying for impossible-to-understand, it’s hard to argue with Cole’s creed.

Pair that with a chorus of kids talking about potentially “never making it out,” and you have a song aimed to inspire all while acknowledging both a hard past and a determined present. The Chicago-born Durk, for his part, embodies that mantra, considering his checkered history and hopeful disposition here. “I done sat with the mayor and politicians,” he proclaims over the bright, simple production that paints this hit. “I’m tryin’ to change the image.” “All My Life” helps that cause while confronting the gray picture everyone’s trying to colorize. It’s an admirable first step into a season of sunlight.

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