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Author: Lewis Newman | Sunday 3rd May 2020

#WRITERSBLOCK: Season Of DaBaby Photograph

“But, but, he never switches up the flow!”

An individual who is as talented and charismatic as DaBaby is sharply aware of his critics and their attempts to undercut his recent success. Do they alter his newfound impact on the game? Nope. Change the fact that his trademark brutal staccato delivery has enamoured the mind of millions worldwide? Not so much. The opinions and words of faceless twitter trolls and old heads of the community certainly haven’t modified the demand from everyone and their mothers to seek out a feature from the Charlottes rising star either. Catch my drift? Words serve one purpose to DaBaby, endless rounds of ammunition. Whether they are flowing freely from the tip of his pen with beat crushing force or locked away as extra motivation silence the haters. During the past year, Baby has elevated consistently, cementing his imprint on the landscape of modern hip hop culture in undeniable fashion.

Some circles of the industry would rather see Jonathan Lyndale Kirk stutter than succeed. Many ends of year lists notably left his name out of their mouths, with the Grammy’s also snubbing the North Carolina star in the Best Newcomer category. As if we needed another reason to consider the long-standing award show an irrelevant popularity contest right?. DaBaby’s rise to ascension in the past year has been astronomical with the 28-year-old discovering the formula to keep the ever-shortening attention spans of the technological age fixed firmly in his direction. We are now in the post Soundcloud era, and where many have failed to capitalise on previous viral success Kirk has intelligently identified streaming trends, adapting his own marketing strategies to pull in instant reward. Coasting through his recent discography this is irrefutable. Many singles are short in length, utilise instantly catchy hooks and above all else hold major replay value. Where some argue the flow used to glue these tracks together are repetitive, I would argue that Baby doesn’t stick around long enough for them to become so. During a summer where ‘Old Town Road’ blared out of every speaker in society without running dry, ‘Suge’ contended its reign with that same quality. Short length, concise verse, catchy hook. The aggressive delivery never has time to intimidate or overwhelm with its lyrical content, and the use of adlibs scattered throughout the track listings would have even the Migos proud. It amazes me how a simple “yeah yeah” can become in some respects, iconic.

The streaming numbers reached in the past year alone are a testament to Baby’s period of domination. Through his understanding of optimal listening time, he scored more number ones than Drake, Post Malone and many other notable players. But it’s not just the music we the fans are here for. DaBaby is unashamedly original. While maintaining traits some would associate with the typical ‘street rapper’ he offers up so much more. The relationship he holds with his fanbase is one extremely personal in nature, and he constantly subverts introverted hip hop stereotypes by finding new ways to connect with them, whether that be during a live show or through social media. The obsession it would seem is real. The trappings of fame can often provide perils for those working towards the pursuit of greatness, but he seems at ease dealing with the newfound limelight. DaBaby is above all else an entertainer.

Something else that sets Kirk apart from his contemporaries is his attention to detail. It’s clear that music videos played a big influence on his young fledgeling mind and now with creative powers at his fingertips, through use of bright colours, costumes and funny narrative plot points DaBaby can bring imagination to life on screen. His videos, of course, played a major role in the come up, doing serious rounds on social media immediately following release. His artistic vision culminated in accompanying visuals for the smash hit ‘BOP’, where Broadway meets rap in a smooth collaborative exhibition of dance and song. A cameo appearance from the legendary crew the Jabbawockeez provided the cherry on TIP of this cultural event.

One could easily pair the ascension of the DaBaby with that of another, Megan Thee Stallion. Both were selected in the most recent XXL Freshman class and proved highlights to a roster stacked with talented lyricists like Roddy Ricch and YBN Cordae. The two have collaborated on several occasions and have easily outlasted their respective honeymoon periods on the scene. Both have dedicated fanbases which refuse to let their stars burnout, too much has happened for them to follow the tracks now of artists like Fetty Wap and Desiigner who were brutally left at the wayside after falling off. Jumping on the hype of Lil Nas’ sophomore single ‘Panini’ also proved a stroke of pure genius, adding the clout of yet another rising star to his cause.

Coming back to my original point, many argue that DaBaby is distinctly repetitive, and yet this theory has already been disproved. ‘INTRO’ the opening track of his acclaimed ‘Kirk’ album, he not only switches flow, but offers up a real insight into the troubles of his everyday and family lives, His success continues to amaze him, but tragedy and setbacks at home weigh heavy on his mind. Putting aside bravado we see Baby at his most vulnerable. ‘GOSPEL’ wisely calls upon the talents of Chicago’s golden kid Chance the Rapper, again serving us a dose of personal information. Losing his father has inevitably moved him into a new musical territory, music is therapy and we the listeners are the shrink. New project ‘BLAME IT ON BABY’ sees the talented young trailblazer experiment further with production, introducing the use of strings in a refreshing twist.

With the use of features, viral marketing and outright charisma, it’s clear to me that the DaBaby isn’t going away anytime soon. He’s tapped into so many markets and sounds, his name resting on the lips of everyday Joe and GOAT level athlete alike. With his new album surfacing only in the past weeks, it’s clear that not even quarantine can put the brakes on Baby’s rise to the stars.

‘BLAME IT ON BABY’ is streaming everywhere now.