Lil Baby has been steadily moving up the ‘rappers we care about’ charts, holding his own against all the other emerging rappers that love to dabble in singing. But be honest, did you see this level of fame coming nine months ago? Correct, earlier this year his “My Dawg” hit blew up, as the remix to it featuring the likes of Quavo and Kodak Black got some serious burn in the clubs nation-wide; but how much of that credit was actually given to Baby? When you take my feelings of apprehension regarding the sudden ascension of Lil Baby’s career into consideration, “Harder Than Ever,” the Atlanta rapper’s first album, might end up being his opportunity to put all the speculation of how good of an artist he actually is to bed.
5. I’M STRAIGHT
“I’m Straight” is nothing less than trap riveting. On it, Lil Baby drops off a killer melody, a superb hook, and focuses on appealing bars from start to finish. You can tell he was vibing throughout the making of it, letting the beat take him wherever he needed to go.
Content-wise, I’m OK with Baby gassing himself up on this song; you know why? Because on his verses, he occasionally mixes in these humbling lyrics into the equation. Now if all this money was inherited, I might not be as accepting.
This should eventually be a hit.
4. RIGHT NOW
If you squint your eyes for a second or two, you might mistake Lil Baby for Young Thug throughout this album. That means this collaboration between the two should be fire, right?
You know what this song reminds me of? A fast tempo version of Meek and Thugger’s “We Ball.” It shares the same passion as the ‘Wins and Losses’ hit, as both Lil Baby and Thugger pour their heart out about a few deep topics such as paranoia, living up to expectations, and making the most of their opportunities.
Passionate music like this is a really good sound for Baby.
3. YES INDEED
At this very moment, white people officially knew who Lil Baby was.
I’m not surprised that a collaboration between Lil Baby and Drake dropped, mainly because they were discussing it for a few weeks now. What does surprise me is the fact that their collaboration sounds pretty damn basic. The production sounds like it was made by Weezy as opposed to Wheezy (aka it sounds like an amateur made it), while Lil Baby and Drake opted to rap with this ‘ho hum’ style on both of their verses. But then again, based off of what I’ve been hearing from Drake lately (aka “Look Alive”), sounding uninterested on a song might just be the new ‘black’ in hip hop… if so, we as rap fans aren’t s**t if we accept it.
While I remain astonished at how simple this song sounds musically, I do think both Baby and Drake are pretty good lyrically on it. Throughout their verses, both artists hit listeners with an abundance of punchlines that sound triller than a Donald Trump morning tweet. Additionally, the confidence they show in their bars are stout, despite the fact their subject matters are practically useless (Mind you, the song was originally called ‘Pikachu’).
‘My cousins are crazier than Cousins’ is a beyond genius line; you know why? Cause that n***a Demarcus Cousins is actually crazy in real life!
2. LIFE GOES ON
The phrase ‘Life Goes On’ is supposed to be a pick me up, but why don’t I ever feel better when someone tells me that?
I hate using this word to describe a beat, but the production on “Life Goes on” has this ‘wavy’ feel attached to it. You would think that would make the artists featured on the track approach it with a laid back demeanor, right? Nope! On the first verse, Lil Baby throws hay-makers, rapping with this relentlessness that lets me know his cardiovascular endurance is on fleek. Gunna follows suit, sounding eerily similar to Lil Baby on his verse both melody-wise and in aggression. As for Uzi, that n***a is always doing his own thing, and on this song he sounds like a certified rock star that is enjoying his high.
I say these three cats make a collaboration album together! Matter of fact, we haven’t been getting many of those in 2018…
“Transporter” is clearly Offset’s song, he just let Lil Baby borrow it, that’s all.
“Transporter” is a meaner version of “Yes Indeed,” On it, Offset shines bright, giving us this spirited hook and verse that sets the tone for the whole song masterfully. But don’t let it fool you, Lil Baby holds his own on the last verse, rapping with this fast paced flow that is so impressive that if you squint your eyes while you listen to it, you might think it was T.I.
Can we put to bed that whole theory of Atlanta rappers not being able to spit?
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. INTRO (4.7/5)
2. SPAZZ (4.1/5)
3. I’M STRAIGHT (4.5/5)
4. EXOTIC (4/5)
5. YES INDEED (4.5/5)
6. LEAKED (4.6/5)
7. BANK (4.4/5)
8. CASH (3.8/5)
9. SOUTHSIDE (4.4/5)
10. THROWING SHADE (4.6/5)
11. FIRST CLASS (4/5)
12. RIGHT NOW (4.6/5)
13. LIFE GOES ON (4.9/5)
14. TRANSPORTER (4.9/5)
15. FIT IN (3.9/5)
16. BOSS BITCH (3.8/5)
17. NEVER NEEDED NO HELP (4.2/5)
This is beyond a solid debut. Lil Baby knows what he does well, which results in this body of work that is as consistent as it gets. So what exactly does he do well you ask? He’s able to create some pretty flawless melodies when he sings, combining them with some real ass lyrical content and catchy hooks. In my humbling opinion, he is the prime example of an infectious trap artist that uses every single element that makes the rap music of today good to his advantage.
The features on this album are fantastic! They each fit Baby’s style perfectly, and also challenge him to step his game up just a tad bit. For example, on “Transporter,” a song that features Offset, it is primarily dominated by the Migos star, as he sets the tone with a dominant first verse and hook. Baby understood this, switched up his style, and started spitting like the fourth member of the Migos. This is what I like to call ‘In game adjustments,’ and throughout this album, Baby makes plenty of those.
The production on this album is the following: Smooth, hard-hitting and trap influenced. But in my opinion, “Harder than Ever” is more about the featured artist making these beats come alive with his dynamic style, so I won’t focus much time on this aspect.
I don’t know if Lil Baby is capable of being a star in this game, but I certainly know he is more than capable of holding his own against any one of your favorite young rap artists today. Like I said earlier, his ability to connect with listeners using some of our favorite rap styles of today is uncanny, and on the low, when he needs to be, he is also capable of being very lyrical (that surprised me a bit). I personally think rap fans will enjoy this album, and for critics like myself, I think we can officially remove his name from the list of potential one hit wonders.