Oakland, CA — DaBaby had a challenging 2018, with a harsh legal case clouding and dominating his entire year. His 2019 has been nothing short of a rebirth. In early March, three days after releasing his debut studio album "Baby on Baby," he dropped his charismatic video for the single, “Suge (Yea Yea).” A solidly constructed, well-produced, head bobbing hit. The song later became DaBaby’s first Billboard Top 100 entry.
In the weeks following the album’s release, his father, John C. "KIRK" Jr., passed away. DaBaby took to his Instagram in a short, but potent tribute stating, “I got a text message saying my album was #3 then I talked to my lil brother and found out my pops passed away out of nowhere and my shit went #1 on the charts out of nowhere. My biggest loss and biggest win at the same time. Errthang they love about me I learned from you.” Instead of feeling defeated DaBaby kept pushing to the finish line.
DaBaby’s instant virality is in part thanks to TikTok, a user-generated content app similar to Vine where people can create and upload a video of them dancing to other artists' music. Many people have crafted creative dances and ways of performing on the platform alongside DaBaby’s rapid flow.
Since the virality of his studio album and "Suge," he has featured on major projects like Dreamville's magnum opus "Revenge of the Dreamers III." The collaborative project contains a standout verse on the epic intro, “Under the Sun,” and a great guest verse on a remix of Lil Nas X’s second viral hit, “Panini.” DaBaby was also a member of the 2019 XXL Freshman Class. In his XXL Freshman Cypher, DaBaby displayed versatility with an impressive two-minute verse that felt effortless. DaBaby's sophomore album, "KIRK," is a tribute to his late father. "KIRK" serves hard-hitting 808s, DaBaby's quintessential triplet flow, and transparent lyricism.
“INTRO” is an introspective look into DaBaby’s life, both past and present. DaBaby uses the song to pay homage to his father in the first verse while giving a compelling comparison of acquiring success and loss. “Same time I got the news, my sh**t went number one…” DaBaby’s juxtaposition vividly explains the pain that comes with success. While mourning his losses, DaBaby gives insight into shifting the paradigm of family structure. “Let's raise our kids right, let's watch the shit we teach 'em...Let's start a business for you so they can't say that you leechin'...” The minimalist bridge highlights DaBaby’s desire to move forward in life and prosper.
OFF THE RIP
Just as the title implies, DaBaby pulls us into “OFF THE RIP.” The track comes in right under two minutes and is as attention-grabbing as ever. The North Carolina native showcases his lyrical exercise, with braggadocious raps about his come up, struggle, and his rise to fame. DaBaby leaves no room for pleasantries, in the intro he raps a couple of bars about how no one can compare to him, following up with a verse about his come up. If you didn’t believe his words at the start, then after a solid minute of relentless and intense flow, you will. “OFF THE RIP” does a great job of reminding that DaBaby isn’t here to play.
Holding it down in the middle of the album, “iPHONE” is the most melodic track. It’s a welcomed change in sound texture while listening to "KIRK." “iPHONE” starts right off with a hook “I'm tryna stay up on my iPhone, told my b*tch ‘I love you’ that was just a typo. That b*tch drive me she gon make me psycho everything I been through is something only I know.” It's a catchy three-note melody found commonly in contemporary rap, and DaBaby and his producer use it perfectly. His lyrics evoke images of staring at your phone screen much too late at night, something we’re all familiar with. Halfway into the track, Nicki Minaj enters with her signature twangy flow and a new melody for the bridge. Together, Minaj and DaBaby craft a classic catchy bop, perfect to kick back before you dive into the second half of "KIRK."
THERE HE GO
Thanks to London on da Track, “THERE HE GO” delicately balances trap and classical music. DaBaby uses the beat to get his point across “You know I ain't never had s**t, okay. Now I'm somewhere in a meeting getting my a** kissed.” Again, it’s becoming a consistent theme for DaBaby to flex about the freedom he’s acquired since his success. The financial freedom that comes with hard work and dedication, DaBaby has earned the right to brag. In the end, DaBaby reminisces about “coming from the bottom,” yet he shares how he’s dealing with success with his listeners.
DaBaby closes out the album with “XXL.” In the song, DaBaby is both boisterous and clever in his approach. “I'm just exercising, I'm just exercising my craft [...] (I'm the best mothaf**kin' rapper).” It’s especially impressive how he was able to reintroduce himself. “Let me give you a history lesson. We moved back to Charlotte, 1999 [...]” In the middle verse, DaBaby is clever in making the subtle connection with his first song “INTRO.” He does so by reflecting on his life as John (his birth name). DaBaby continues to remind the listeners of his evolution. All in all, DaBaby closes the album strong with Producer 20 on the beat and his polished lyricism.