There are several different ways to describe someone on a hot streak. Comparable to a LeBron James triple double, or a thirty kill-streak on Call of Duty, Lil Baby is undeniably one of, if not the hottest rapper in the game right now. The Atlanta, Georgia native and Quality Control member turned heads when he released his second studio album My Turn in February, with guest appearances from Lil Wayne, Lil Uzi Vert, 42 Dugg, Young Thug, Gunna, Rylo Rodriguez, and Moneybagg Yo. The chemistry shared between Lil Baby and his chosen features is magnificent like a Lamar Jackson juke. Lil Uzi Vert arguably delivered the most memorable guest verse of the year on “Commercial,” with Lil Baby somehow not being overshadowed on his own part. From “Drip Too Hard,” “Sold Out Dates,” Life Goes On,” and more, it is no secret that Lil Baby and Gunna are a formidable brotherly duo, linking up once more on “Heatin Up.” According to Billboard, in its first week alone, My Turn debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 charts, with a staggering 197,000 album-equivalent units (including just under 10,000 legitimate album sales). Lil Baby is a fascinating artist because he completely understands what he’s best at, enabling him to utilize his own strengths on each release. Truth be told, his 2018 mixtape Street Gossip is what made me a fan, which I did not expect him to top.
As Lil Baby suggests on his song “Consistent,” I have learned that he’s “never off,” consistently dropping one banger after another, like an uber driver with a five star rating. While many would label Lil Baby as a ‘new school’ rapper, his seemingly breathless flow, unique voice, and quotable lyrics are what caught the attention of rap legend Lil Wayne, who recently revealed that Baby is his favorite artist. At just 25 years of age, Lil Baby has continually expressed that he wants to reach Drake level status someday, hoping to be considered an all time great no later than forty years of age. Baby, however, has remained humble, vowing to never call himself a goat, thereby leaving it to the people to decide. One of the qualities that both Drake and Lil Baby share is their ability to create and share addictive lyrics that likely have been copied and pasted in an Instagram post of someone you follow. Lyrics such as “Never met Jay-Z but in my hood I’m like Hov,” “the biggest OG’s salute me a stylist can’t even style me,” and “yeah I’m young but got something to lose” are just a preview of the quotable lines that are sure to remain fixated in the listener’s mind.
A few months later, Lil Baby delivered the deluxe version of My Turn, which has six additional tracks, and another feature from the fan favorite Detroit rapper 42 Dugg. I highly recommend playing the deluxe album in its entirety with the existing songs, as it builds excitement upon reaching the newly added tracks. The deluxe portion begins with “Social Distancing,” featuring an extremely clever opening line: “I told her to fly and she scared of the virus I sent her a private [jet] to get here.” As previously stated, Lil Baby sticks to his formula; rather than attempting to be someone else, he refines his own specialized skill set. While some trap/new school projects only have a handful of tracks that are worth replaying, this album remarkably transitions from one hit to the next. There is no need to make a playlist with nitpicked tracks because the album itself is the playlist. With twenty six songs total on the deluxe, the album impressively is not over-saturated with similar/samey records; a common flaw in modern rap music. Each record is memorable and unique, despite the album’s production being consistent with 808’s, heavy-hitting bass, and menacing melodies. Though a majority of the project is fast paced, expressive tracks such as “Emotionally Scarred” offer a glimpse of what Lil Baby could perhaps display more of in his next release. Baby’s sound may incorporate auto-tune, but the live performed version of “Emotionally Scarred” proves that his usage of the technology is for polishing purposes, rather than strict reliance in order to make successful records.
Not counting the deluxe, my favorite tracks are: “Get Ugly,” “Woah,” “Live Off My Closet,” “Commercial,” “Gang Signs,” “Sum 2 Prove,” and “Forget That.” The only songs that I did not like are “Catch The Sun, (which originally was off the soundtrack for the movie Queen & Slim) and “We Should,” simply because Young Thug’s style does not mesh as well with Baby’s compared to the other features. Off the deluxe, I enjoyed all six tracks, but “Low Down” and “We Paid” are undoubtedly the standouts. On “Low Down,” Lil Baby displays his breathless flow, a trait that only a few other rappers such as Valee can compete with. Produced by Quay Global, the impeccable instrumental is matched with a pause free onslaught from Lil Baby, who asserts: “This sh** done got serious, them millions come plural, I’m living by morals
we swipe ’em, ain’t keepin,’no Dora Explorer.” As for “We Paid,” the fact that 42 Dugg is the only guest on the deluxe exemplifies Lil Baby’s belief in the Michigan born rapper. The chemistry on this record is immense; Lil Baby allows Dugg to have the opening verse, followed by Baby’s appearance around the forty-six second mark, in which his underrated lyrical ability is once more proven. Repeatedly not preferring to breathe, Lil Baby spazzes: “I’ma turn it up a lil’ more this time used to dream about getting it, now I got it, I don’t drive / I had a spot like a varsity, what did you have? You buy twenty, I’ll front what you buy / I put on drip, I believe I can I fly. Ni**** know that I’m rich, but they know not to try / I had a show in Detroit and I stopped at Revive and spent fifty on all of the guys.” The ominous beat aligns perfectly with Lil Baby and 42 Dugg’s shared aggression, and the track itself will leave you inspired to make money, as Dugg echoes: “Bro, I kept taking L’s, finally got me a M, still making double I don’t count what I spend.”
To say the least, the entirety of My Turn is an overwhelming instant classic, consisting of combined radio friendly hits and party or aux certified selections. If Lil Baby remains as hungry as he is right now, I’d be willing to make a bet that he achieves his dream of Drake level recognition someday. After all, the King LeBron James himself replied and agreed to a tweet suggesting that “Lil Baby is the youngest MVP since Derrick Rose.” Moreover, NBA rookie Ja Morant tweeted his satisfaction of the deluxe album’s release, and even tweeted again to particularly highlight the record “Humble.” It’s no secret that Drake is globally revered by icons in multiple professions; Lil Baby will have to continue building his resume of ‘famous’ fans in order to have a shot at a similar legacy. Popularity figures aside, music wise I can firmly state that Lil Baby is among my top active rappers list. Baby deserves a thorough break for the remainder of the year, but it won’t be long until fans of his (myself included) yearn for more content, as his music is as addictive as “Pure cocaine.” Stream the deluxe version of My Turn, below!
Words by Brandon Washington