For those having trouble keeping up with the ever-shifting hip-hop landscape, DaBaby is definitely one to know. The rapper from Charlotte, North Carolina, has been making major waves this year and already boasts a rabid fan base that will undoubtedly be lit at his June 8 performance at The Pressroom.
The 27-year-old gained initial fame with his breakout hit “Baby on Baby,” filled with energetic rhymes and creative lyricism. He has been on the map for a few years, linking up linking up with South Coast label CEO Arnold Taylor in 2016, who connected him with Interscope executives this year. DaBaby inked a deal with the major label in January and quickly has become a force to be reckoned with.
His debut album, named for his first major hit, was released this past March to critical acclaim. It earned an impressive 7.7 on Pitchfork’s notorious album review chart, and its 13 tracks reveal an ascendant raw talent.
Many will argue that a good test of an artist’s rap chops is freestyling, a skill DaBaby effortlessly checks off his list. Last month, he stopped by Power 106 in Los Angeles to fire off a freestyle with the musical group The L.A. Leakers, in which he floated over the beat to the hit “Act Up” by Miami's City Girls. Off the cuff, he delivered impeccable bars that showed off not only his lyrical ability but also his charming and lighthearted personality.
Some say that for artists trying to make it, personality is as important as skill, which is another positive for DaBaby. As he makes the rounds with publications, his genuineness and sense of humor ooze from the page.
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To see those qualities, simply watch one of his music videos. In his visual for “Walker Texas Ranger,” which has garnered more than 12 million views since its release in January, DaBaby dons a cowboy hat and displays some impressive footwork as he drives around the countryside and participates in hilarious high jinks. It sounds like a simple concept, but DaBaby’s creativity and humor make it something much more special.
Even more revelatory is his stage presence. During a recent performance, he brought out a special guest to dance with him: someone dressed in a giant baby costume. That wasn't the first time DaBaby took his name literally: He also showed up at South by Southwest 2017 as a baby wearing a diaper.
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However, there are some not-so-funny aspects of DaBaby’s past. In November 2018, he was charged in connection with a shooting at a North Carolina Walmart that killed a 19-year-old man. DaBaby later admitted he was involved in the shooting but said he acted in self-defense, according to XXL. Last month, all charges against him were dropped.
Now that DaBaby is signed to a major label and playing major stages, his star will likely continue to rise. At the very least, we’ll certainly continue to see his commitment to his craft. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he responded to a question about why he often begins rapping the very moment the beat drops on his songs.
"It’s just a testament to my hunger. I can’t even wait for the beat to drop to start eating,” he said. "Anything that’s not given, what’s worked for, I’m gonna take it."
DaBaby. With Stunna 4 Vegas, Blacc Zacc. 8:30 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at The Pressroom, 441 West Madison Street. Tickets are $20 to $30 via Ticketfly.