Quality Control Music/Motown Records/Capitol Records
Quality Control Music/Motown Records/Capitol Records

It's hard to believe that Lil Baby has only been rapping for two years. He started his rap career after spending the same amount of time in prison. A very short time after his release, he was signed to Quality Control Music—home to Migos and Lil Yachty—and began racking up hits like "Yes Indeed" with Drake and "Drip Too Hard" with Gunna.

For someone so young both in age (he turned 24 this month) and musical experience, Lil Baby has been prolific. He dropped four mixtapes in 2017; Street Gossip is his third release of 2018. The new tape follows up his solo studio debut Harder Than Ever from May, as well as the triumphant collaborative Drip Harder project with Gunna from October.

At this point, Lil Baby already sounds seasoned as a rapper. Like Young Thug and other ATLiens that paved the way for him, Baby raps in an Auto-Tuned warbles with a half-sung delivery. Yet he's also a technician, often changing his flow and tempo throughout the song's runtime.

Lyrically, there's not much that sets Lil Baby apart from other trap rappers. He raps about drug dealing, his successes as a rapper, his time in prison. But it's that energy, technical ability, and his gift of melody that set him apart.

He's also got plenty of memorable lines. "My lil' homie swang the AR like a guitar," he boasts on "Section 8." Elsewhere, on "Word on the Street," he flosses: "Middle of the winter, drop top with a mink on/Bad lil' vibe, yeah she say that's her theme song/I done made a whole million dollars off a flip phone/No Soulja Boy, that bitch ain't even have a ringtone."

Lil Baby can also get introspective. On "Dreams 2 Reality," he talks about what he went through before becoming a rap star, and how he's dealing with his rapid fame: "Would have never started rappin' if I knew this shit had come with this/If I had never made a hit, would they be on my dick?"

The guest list on Street Gossip is vast and impressive. A hyped-as-ever Meek Mill spazzes over "Time." Atlanta trap elder statesman Gucci Mane gives his blessings with memorable verses on "Anyway" and "Realist In It." Those two tracks also feature 2 Chainz and Offset, respectively.

But the best collaborations come with the artists who are most like their host. Lil Baby's Drip Harder partner Gunna shows up on "Ready" to once again showcase their fantastic chemistry. Then Young Thug shows up with a hazy verse on the aforementioned "Section 8."

Street Gossip doesn't always boast the best production, but there are some trap gems on here. Frequent Lil Baby collaborator Quay Global produces the majority of the album—like the symphonic "Anyway" and the frantic piano of "Time" shine. Metro Boomin's dark synths are as effective as ever on "Ready," and Wheezy's percussive beat for "Section 8" is a delight. But Algino's beat for "Chastised" steals the show. The mix of acoustic guitar and trap drums makes for a unique vehicle for Baby to rap on.

With seven projects released in a two-year span, Lil Baby could run the risk of overextending himself or growing stale. But Street Gossip shows he hasn't reached that point. The project is yet another showcase of a young rapper with catchy hooks and memorable bars who's found his strengths and niche incredibly quickly in his career.

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