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Courtesy of South Coast Music Group

March 15, 2019

TEST SPIN | DaBaby — ‘Baby on Baby’

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Opening with “Taking It Out,” Baby on Baby boasts a brutal onslaught of brolic strength and victory. Weighted bass, synth, whistles and hi-hat shuffles crawl between tracks to assist varyingly powered atmospheres and messages. A snaking flute and snare lend to the structured assault in the near-titular “Goin Baby” where DaBaby raps about his newfound visibility and fortune. DaBaby makes an incredible point in that this is his debut album. Music videos and features on other artists’ tracks have been trickling in, but DaBaby is very much still a fresh artist. Despite only budding in the industry, he managed to snag impressive, established features like Offset, Rich The Kid and Rich Homie Quan.

“Baby Sitter” is an upright song that’s hard to listen while sitting down. Distorted synths and suspenseful percussion advances relentlessly alongside DaBaby’s raps. Warning promptly of the charged barrage to come, he jumps in stating, “you know I ain’t come to play, let’s get it.” Images range from freeing his jailed cousin to bastardizing any challengers’ sons, all around the rulebreaker motto of DaBaby sleeping with the baby sitter. Offset’s feature isn’t wasted, his typical Migos flow picks up and halts to rearrange itself at times, boosting the track’s already extremely locomotive feeling.

To take a chilled step back and see the bigger picture means to “Deal Wit It,” as the appropriately titled track smoothly offers that unfulfilling boyfriends deal with the fact that they can’t hold their women’s interests. His composure and more healthy, empowering depiction of the undervalued woman lies adjacent to projected insecurity and controllingness described in the boyfriend. Nevertheless, it’s a gloating song at heart.

But DaBaby runs into a very real problem in “Joggers,” his joggers falling down because the racks (and sidearm) are too heavy. Firm warnings go out in traditional fashion beside visits to the bank and bulky, broad-shouldered gusto in its delivery and tense instrumentals. Stunna 4 Vegas shoves his way into the track towards the end, conspicuously cementing the tag-team’s song as a burly stroll.

“Pony” makes the audience want to holler in its ode form, urging himself forward on the figurative horse of a lifestyle of grinding while being ridden “like a goddamn pony.” He speaks on life in the trap at a street level and passing his plugs on — whom he honors, depicting them “still rollin”— before addressing how grand things are now. He goes from promising that enemies making beef might find a bounty on their head or family members ending up in funeral black “like a pilgrim,” to ballin’ out on iced grills, feasts of meals with “the whole gang” and new cars. The message hones in on the aspirational weed dealing heydays and moves into the current viral music paydays.

Most choruses on the album are ferocious or at the least, effectively alluring mantras. “Best Friend,” which features Rich The Kid, diverts from the mostly deadpan nature of Baby on Baby to a happy-go-lucky anthem that celebrates a mesmerized though incredibly sexually competent lover.  The chorus of this song, however, had me questioning its replayability right off the bat: it’s a quickly stale, tease of a type of repeating bars, which fits the song’s vibe (and Rich’s style) but is relatively less captivating than the rest of Baby on Baby’s tracks. Arguably, there’s also little excitement to be had in Rich The Kid’s verse as he spits out a chewed up version of several instantly recognizable Rich lyrics and other braindead filler content. It isn’t entirely joyless, but “Best Friend” is the worst friend to this release’s overall cohesion and DaBaby’s selfmade charm.

Duty, work and his commitment to the rap game are pressed upon in “Walker Texas Ranger”. He calls out to people looking to fuck him in either sense of the word, simultaneously shirking both potentially fake and negative biproducts of being famous. “I’m on the grind like fuck a bitch, I’ll get some pussy later,” he proclaims chorus by chorus. Groundwork and progress are still key, especially in times like back in the trap on “Pony.” Dedication and other values like durability are upheld and praised throughout Baby on Baby’s entirety.

“Suge” dances on the heads of competing rappers in a vein similar to that of current rap contemporaries like Comethazine and Smokepurpp. He stoutly announces his own smoothness, flexing success by citing his women, money and capability to pose a threat. With all of the threats from bodying to shooting right alongside the closing chorus line, “I’m a young CEO, Suge,” DaBaby poses himself as the imposing incarcerated character. Fellow Death Row label name Tupac gets his titular shoutout much later in the album’s track listing. Old school melodies meet a tale of modern day success and succession. Warbly, classic hip-hop instrumental sounds mark “Tupac” while the lyrics shift to DaBaby’s realness and royalty in the emerging rap game.

With a subtle flip of the stylistic switch, “Backend” tosses his more straightforward and gunning flow out the window for a flaunting, more gentle Migos-esque delivery. It’s all about what he’s bringing to the table through his self durability and values, and the physical powers of cash and weaponry.

DaBaby’s first full album is a mighty release as a whole and has already carved out a spot in the rap industry for DaBaby’s unmistakably bold style. Baby on Baby clearly defines his music, and he now has the money, big name friends and label. Now all he needs is time.

 

Cory Koehler is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at ck594@cornell.edu.