Da Baby — One of Hip-Hop’s best MCs

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Jonathan Lyndale Kirk (born December 22, 1991),[a] better known as DaBaby (formerly known as Baby Jesus), is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter from Charlotte, North Carolina.[5][6][7] After releasing several mixtapes between 2014 and 2018, [8] DaBaby rose to mainstream prominence in 2019.[9]

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2014 — 2018: Early mixtapes

DaBaby began taking music seriously between 2014 and 2015.[8] In 2015, he started off his music career by releasing Nonfiction, his debut mixtape. He later followed this up with his God’s Work mixtape series, Baby Talk mixtape series, Billion Dollar Baby, and Back on My Baby Jesus Sh*t. He initially performed under the name Baby Jesus, which he eventually changed out of concern that it had become a distraction.[19]

DaBaby got his big break after signing to Arnold Taylor, the president of the South Coast Music Group label, a big radio promoter. Taylor saw DaBaby perform around North Carolina clubs at the time he [Taylor] was launching his label. Taylor had been responsible in the early rise of Southern rap stars including Yo Gotti and Future.[8] Once they started working together, the team kept building buzz around the South with mixtapes and club shows, while DaBaby was finding his sound. Through his deal with South Coast, DaBaby signed a short-lived distribution deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation for his Blank Blank mixtape that would prove to be his breakout in late 2018.[19] Thanks to the guidance of Taylor, and following major label bidding wars, DaBaby landed a seven-figure recording deal with Interscope.[8]

2019 — present: Baby on Baby, Kirk, and Blame It on Baby

In January 2019, when DaBaby signed with Interscope, he began his own imprint label called Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment .[20] On March 1, 2019, DaBaby’s debut studio album Baby on Baby, was released via Interscope Records. He is also signed to South Coast Music Group and has a joint contract with both labels. The thirteen-track project features guest appearances from Offset, Rich Homie Quan, Rich the Kid and Stunna 4 Vegas. Baby on Baby debuted at number 25 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in the US. DaBaby’s song “Suge”, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 87 on the chart dated April 13, 2019, and later reached the top 10, on the chart dated June 8, 2019.[21] DaBaby was featured on the cover of XXL’s Freshman Class of 2019.[22]

DaBaby featured on various hit songs throughout mid-2019, including Megan Thee Stallion’s “Cash Shit” and Quality Control’s “Baby”, both of which reached the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. On July 5, 2019, DaBaby was featured on Dreamville Records’ newly released compilation album Revenge of the Dreamers, on the opening track, “Under the Sun”. He received acclaim for his guest feature, with various publications ranking it as his best verse of 2019,[23][24][25] including Complex magazine calling it a “defining breakout moment for a new rap superstar”.

In August 2019, he announced that his second album would be titled Kirk, a tribute to his last name.[11] It was released on September 27, and debuted atop the US Billboard 200.[13] Its lead single, “Intro”, was also successful, peaking at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Around that time, DaBaby also made notable appearances on singles such as Post Malone’s “Enemies”,[26] which peaked at number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100, and on the remixes to YG’s “Stop Snitchin”, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”,[27] and Lil Nas X’s “Panini”,[28] released on May 24, August 23, and September 13, 2019, respectively. On October 24, he made a cameo appearance in the music video for up-and-coming rapper Rich Dunk’s breakthrough single “High School”.[29]

DaBaby closed 2019 having 22 entries on the Billboard Hot 100 for the year, the most of any artist that year.[30][9]

At the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, held in 2020, DaBaby received two nominations, both for “Suge”, in the categories Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song.[31] On April 13, 2020, he announced on Twitter that his third studio album, Blame It on Baby, would be released on April 17, 2020.[32] The album received mixed to positive reviews, but achieved commercial success, debuting atop the Billboard 200 with 124,000 album-equivalent units, becoming DaBaby’s second number-one album.[15] It also produced DaBaby’s highest-charting song, “Rockstar”, featuring Roddy Ricch, which has spent seven weeks at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached number-one in the United Kingdom. [15][33] In June, DaBaby was featured on the remix for the Jack Harlow’s song, “Whats Poppin”, which peaked at number two on the Hot 100 while “Rockstar” was still at the top. This made DaBaby the 20th act to occupy the chart’s top 2 positions, and the first since Ariana Grande in 2019. In July, DaBaby was featured on “For the Night” by Pop Smoke and Lil Baby, which debuted at number six on the Hot 100. As a result, DaBaby became the seventh act to chart at least three songs in the top six simultaneously.[34]

On July 27, DaBaby released a new single with his signee Stunna 4 Vegas, titled “No Dribble”,[35] included on the deluxe edition of Blame It on Baby, which was released on August 4, 2020, and described by DaBaby as a “brand new album”.[36]

Charles Holmes of Rolling Stone described DaBaby’s flow as a “staccato, precise, and brutal rapping style, a syllable-crushing force delivered with such forward momentum it often gives the illusion that he starts rapping before the beat begins”. The most famous example of this being his breakthrough hit “Suge”.[17]

Speaking on his influences, DaBaby has said he studied artists like Future, Lil Wayne and Kanye West, who he says “came up and consistently progressed”. He further elaborated: “I’ve studied all the genius marketers throughout the rap game. I borrow from anybody with something to offer”. Jeff Weiss of The Guardian favorably compared to DaBaby to Busta Rhymes, Eminem, Missy Elliott and Ludacris, noting the similarities in their musical styles which include “inventive rap stylists unafraid to make videos full of funny parodies and rubber-faced camera goofs”.[8] According to Weiss, DaBaby “reflects an anachronistic approach to the rap game. If the charts are filled with opiated threnodies about addiction and sadness, he eschews singing in favour of raps that could take your head off”. DaBaby has said “I can’t sing, but I’ll hit some notes here and there”.[8]

Written by

Chris Collins is an American multimedia journalist from Los Angelas, California

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