Rappers often talk about getting rich quick, rhapsodizing their journey from the local street corner to a lifestyle of excess. The form has become parody at this point: Low-angle shots of shirtless men whose necks are weighed down by impossibly shiny, diamond encrusted jewelry, surrounded by scantily clad women, all brandishing wads of 100 dollar bills and guns of various caliber in either hand. While Lil Baby doesn’t exactly fight these genre stereotypes, he isn’t putting up some facade. Lil Baby is traditional, authentic Atlanta rap, and that’s what he writes about. He writes about what he has lived, the people he has lost, the lessons he has learned and, yes, the money he has made along the way.
Born Dominique Jones, Lil Baby grew up in Atlanta’s notorious south side, where hip-hop permeates all aspects of life. Following in the footsteps of Atlanta-natives like Future, 2 Chainz, Lil Yachty and Gucci Mane, Lil Baby has built a sizable and loyal following in the short time since his first release a little over a year ago. Initially encouraged by Quality Control Music executive and local legend Kevin "Coach K" Lee–the same label Migos and Lil Yachty are signed with–to pursue a career in music because he “had the swag for it,” Lil Baby dismissed the idea, thinking he didn’t have what it takes to make it in the industry.
And maybe he was right. At the time he was only 19 years old and lacked the discipline necessary to stay in the studio and out of trouble. However, after serving two years in prison on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, Lil Baby emerged from the penitentiary system a more focused person. He saw the dangerous path he was headed down so, under the mentorship of Coach K and fellow Quality Control partner Pierre "Pee" Thomas, Lil Baby began his endeavor into music.
His first mixtape “Perfect Timing” blew up on SoundCloud thanks to impressive features from fellow QC rapper, Lil Yachty. Less than three months later, Lil Baby was back with another 12-track mixtape in “Harder than Hard.” The track “My Dawgs” off this album, originally released as a single, marked his first chart-topping hit. Ferrari Simmons, a popular evening radio personality on Atlanta’s Streetz 94.5, recalls the hype in an interview with Complex, “I’m at seven nightclubs, sometimes 12, in a seven-day span and [Baby’s] song was basically at every club that I was at.”
Two additional mixtapes and five prolific months later, Lil Baby was in the conversation as one of the hottest up-and-coming rappers. His debut studio album “Harder than Ever” came out in May of 2018 to great anticipation. Peaking at number three on the Billboard Top 100, it was Baby’s biggest success yet. “Yes Indeed” featuring rap superstar Drake and “Life Goes On” featuring Lil Uzi Vert stand out among an already impressive tracklist. Catchy melodies and Baby’s signature lilting, slightly-autotuned voice ensure every track is as exciting as the next.
Still young and looking to further refine his talent for creating unforgettable choruses, I look forward to seeing what Lil Baby has to offer with his next project. Currently, he is working closely with Gunna, another rap-newcomer of equal ability stirring up similar buzz, on his upcoming mixtape “Drip Harder.” Put Lil Baby on your radar as this collaboration, among others, are musts if you are a fan of Atlanta’s newest brand of hip-hop.
Mitchell Clark is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.