(September 22, 2019). Baby, Baby, Baby…
There are a whole bunch of babies in the rap game right now, with Bhad Bhabie, Sada Baby, Bali Baby, BBG Baby Joe, and Yung Baby Tate all popularizing the trendy moniker in recent years.
But the two biggest babies in hip-hop today have been blowing up (and growing up) literally right before our eyes!
Just a little over a year ago, they were hip-hop newborns, mere infants in a world of grownups in the rap game with nary an album to their names. Now they’re shedding their diapers (literally, in one case) and comfortably cutting their teeth in hip-hop’s big leagues.
Their names, btw?
They’re none other than DaBaby, out of Charlotte, NC, and Lil Baby, from the ATL.
Now, if you’re not among the hip-hop initiated, you would be forgiven for not knowing the difference between the two, much less for not knowing that they even existed.
But these two babies have been blowing up the spot for the past couple of years with parallel careers and similar monikers that understandably would confuse even the most thoroughly immersed hip-hop fans.
First, the similarities…
For example, both rappers released a flurry of theme-oriented mixtapes in the 2017-18 timeframe before unleashing their first official studio albums in the past 16 months (Lil Baby’s Harder Than Ever in May 2018, and DaBaby’s Baby on Baby this past March).
Both baby rappers are also featured on the No. 1 album this week (Post Malone’s Hollywood’s Bleeding), with DaBaby on the song “Enemies” and Lil Baby on Malone’s “On The Road” (also featuring Meek Mill). DaBaby was also added as a feature on the No. 1 single, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.”
Both babies also spend most of their rhymes flexing about their women, their come-ups and, of course, poppin’ their enemies, which makes their songs’ main themes practically indistinguishable.
It doesn’t help matters that the two Baby rappers also collaborated (for a third time) on a track this summer, with a song simply titled (what else?) “Baby.” It follows earlier collabos “Baby Shower” (curated this year by the musician Jamz), and DaBaby’s 2018 song “Today,” which featured Lil Baby on a remix solely intended to capitalize on the rappers’ similar names.
The song “Baby” is taken from the Quality Control/Motown label collaboration project titled Quality Control: Control the Streets, Vol. 2. The Quality Control label happens to be the home of Lil Baby, and there’s where the differences between him and DaBaby begin to take shape.
DaBaby, the funny, wide-smiled MC who was born in Cleveland, OH, in December 1991 as Jonathan Kirk and who moved to Charlotte when he was six, records for Interscope Records. His professional career began in 2016 with his first commercially available mixtape, God’s Work Resurrected.
He released eight more mixtapes before releasing his first official studio album, Baby on Baby, this March. That album generated his most popular single, “Suge,” in which the rapper cleverly raps in his familiar, deep-voiced cadence about the typical topics of selling, shooting and signing (record deals in the latter case…the other two are self-explanatory).
“Suge,” of course, pays homage to former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, the hip-hop mogul who is now serving a 28-year prison sentence for murder. The song peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 this past summer and was certified double-platinum. The Baby on Baby album also peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified gold.
Lil Baby, on the other hand, is three years younger and was born in Atlanta in December 1994 as Dominique Jones. The more serious, baby-dread-wearing rapper released his first mixtape, 2017’s Perfect Timing, just four months after DaBaby’s God’s Work and he’s released five more since, including several as part of his Hard series.
By the time he released his first official studio album, Harder Than Ever, in May 2018, Lil Baby had built up a large mixtape following. From Harder Than Ever came his first top-10 as a lead artist, “Yes Indeed,” featuring Canadian superstar Drake.
Just months later, Lil Baby and fellow Atlantan Gunna released the single “Drip Too Hard,” which peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 and was certified triple-platinum, becoming his second-consecutive triple-platinum single, after “Yes Indeed.”
As far as record sales go, Lil Baby has so far outsold DaBaby, with two multi-platinum singles and a gold album to his credit, verses DaBaby’s one multi-platinum single and a gold album.
Different brushes with the law…
Regarding their personal histories, Lil Baby’s career took off only after he served two years in jail for criminal drug possession (with the intent to sell). The subject of drugs hasn’t escaped his music, either, something the rapper has said suits him as it lends more authenticity to the stories he tells (and sometimes embellishes on) in his rhymes.
Conversely, DaBaby’s career nearly ended in November 2018 when he narrowly averted murder charges after the killing of a man in a Huntersville, NC Walmart. The deceased was determined to have been the initial assailant in an attempt to rob DaBaby (while the rapper’s two young kids and their mother were present). DaBaby was later determined to have been acting in self defense and he was never prosecuted.
As bad as some rappers’ images tend to be, and as much flap as they take for it, most of the images they project on tape don’t actually play out in real life. But both of the Babies’ real-life stories would seem to lend them enough street cred to back up the often boisterous claims in their rhymes.
Dababy may actually be one of the few rappers who can actually say they’ve offed someone, not been charged for it, and then rapped freely in his music about the subject of “bodying a ni**a.”
But so far, none of that has derailed the career of the North Carolinian who just this past Friday (September 19) released a new single, a more introspective song fittingly called “Intro.” It’s from yet another new album slated for release this fall – DaBaby’s second studio effort simply entitled Kirk, in honor of his family name.
That would move him ahead of his partner-in-playpen-monikers Lil Baby with two studio albums (vs. one for the Atlanta rapper).
DaBaby, IMHO, also has the better flow of the top two babies, with his cleverly worded, detailed punchlines that border on comedy. They’d almost be considered goofy if the subject matter wasn’t so heavy and typically violent. The serious turn he takes on “Intro,” however, shows that there may actually be more depth to DaBaby than meets the eye.
Either way, both Baby rappers are still just beginning to experience grown-up numbers and they both look to be in the rap game for a long time to come.
By this time next year, one of them might even have his first No. 1 Billboard 200 album.
We’ll soon see, but at least after reading this you should now have a better perspective on which Baby you’ve been rocking the past year or so, if it hasn’t been both.
DJRob is a freelance blogger who covers R&B, hip-hop, pop and rock genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff! You can follow him on Twitter @djrobblog.
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