The Break Presents: DaBaby
When video surfaced of a rapper walking around SXSW in nothing but a diaper in March, it's understandable why people were shocked. Charlotte, N.C. native DaBaby is the rising rapper who made headlines for the odd outfit but he's more than just a gimmick. He's serious about his career.
DaBaby released the mixtape God’s Work: Resurrected last year, with features from Boosie BadAzz and production from Sean Da Firzt, JStacks, Slim Hood and Krazy Figz plus followed that up with Baby Talk 2 earlier this year. The rhymer has been putting in steady work over the last two years.
Before he was a rapper, DaBaby, formerly known as Baby Jesus, was in the streets. He left that way of life and started rapping when he realized he could impact people's lives through music. Since 2014, DaBaby hasn't looked back, building a growing fan base even though he changed his name.
"2017 will be the year of DaBaby," he tells XXL over the phone. "The name change, it just shows me the amount of love and respect people have for me. To change the name and not lose any traction, that’s something a lot of people have trouble doing. When it comes to 2017, we’re ready to work."
With a solid momentum and attention in his direction, DaBaby's got a promising start to his career.
Hometown: Cleveland-born, Charlotte-raised
I grew up listening to: “Early on in my life, I got two older brothers; we used to listen to Eminem, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne. Pretty much anything my older brothers were listening to. There was so much music growing up. But definitely Lil Wayne was a big influence because I had more of an understanding of what I was listening to when I was getting older.
"I had already been successful with the things I was doing on the streets; I really kind of got bored with it. I was all about touching people and influencing people, I always been that type of person. I was the one teaching people things, I just always had a way with my words and I always spoke with substance. I figured what better way to touch people and change people lives than with the music because a lot of the things that I listen to before I started rapping—I started rapping in 2014—they were rapping about my actual life.
"I had a couple of foreign cars and this at the age of 21. I was staying at a condo downtown, things like that. If everything I was listening to is so relatable than me, I can paint a better picture of these things. I always have been the type of person who said what’s next. So I started rapping. I didn’t even know what the term producer meant. But when I made my first song and it was a hit and I took off running from there."
My style’s been compared to: “People don’t really compare me to anyone. I’ve run into fans all over and we have in-depth conversations about how mind-blowing it is that I don’t sound like anyone else. I made that a point when I was creating my sound from the beginning, I didn’t want to sound like anybody. Once I kind of found my own sound, I mastered it. I’m still mastering it to this day because I’m finding sounds within my own sounds.
"It's only a matter of time before people start piggy-backing off of it, that’s just the name of the game. If I had to describe it, it walks the line between music that still has lyrical content and subject matter but it also caters to the energetic wave that’s coming out now. A lot of days people go with the vibe rather what’s being said, that’s what separates me from a lot of people. My music still has that vibe but at the same time I’m actually talking about something."
Most people don’t know: “Things that people don’t know about me, mainly because the way I carry myself and so well-spoken and I know how to talk to different types of people. It’s my background; a lot of things that rappers talk about and people love them for I really did that. I like to keep it all about the music rather than the lifestyle I live. Five people ran into my house with guns and masks on and I legally shot somebody and they took off. Things like that.
"Those are the things you wouldn’t know because I don’t glorify it. The way I got money, my street life, I was the best of both worlds. I always have been extremely book smart and street smart. I really have the real stripes out here to prove it. But I just keep working and focus on the music because I want the music to make people start loving me, not the lifestyle."
My standout records to date: “I guess it would be 'Light Show,' it’s been unbelievable. As an independent artist, to have a record that charted, it’s unbelievable. Yo Gotti came and hopped on the remix. That’s definitely one of the biggest things that’s happen to me so far right now."
My goal in hip-hop is: “To take it where it never been taken before. I am a perfectionist. I don’t really limit myself. I want people to look at me crazy. As quick as I am, gaining success as I have, I knew it was going to take place. I’m doing it to succeed. When it comes to my goals, I’m talking Grammys, I’m talking legendary, to be the greatest of all time."
I’m going to be the next: “Legend, what I bring to the table, not only talent-wise but my work and education. To master everything I put my hands on and to touch as many people as I can with what I do, impact people lives in a positive way. It all revolves around changing people’s lives at the end of the day."
Standouts: "Light Show"
Baby Talk 2
God's Work: Resurrected
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