DaBaby‘s lyrics are often crammed with cartoonish and lewd punchlines, delivered with the brute delivery of a gale-force wind. His staccato flows are simplistic, but come with the charming bounce of nursery rhymes. And his subject matter typically adhere to a similar narrative arc (e.g. DaBaby is good at intercourse, but more importantly he’s probably good enough to steal your partner; he’s also rich, and if you try him there will be consequences). The formula is tight, and exact.
To his credit, it’s worked wonders. “Suge” is certified double platinum, while “Goin Baby” and “Baby on Baby” are gold. In addition, he’s given Chance The Rapper and Megan Thee Stallion the most successful streaming songs off each of their albums. When Lil Nas X and Lizzo needed one last boost to get their hits over the top, the North Carolina rapper was called in to bat cleanup — and delivered.
DaBaby should be in the midst of a victory lap: He’s had a titanic breakout year, and shows no signs of slowing down. But on “Intro,” the first song from his upcoming album, the resilient rapper momentarily lets his comedically tough façade fall to the wayside, and abandons the blueprint that made him of of 2019’s best rappers. The hooks are gone, the punchlines absent, and his signature flow momentarily retired. For three minutes, it’s just DaBaby recapping his rise, and lamenting what he lost in the process. The first 20 seconds of the song are a heart-wrenching portrait of what it feels like to lose your father at the same time you’re ascending to celebrity.
I got the number one record they acknowledge the jit
They going crazy when they play it head bobbing and shit
And I’m just somewhat fucked up thinking about my father and shit
They found him dead a couple days before I started to, same day I flew back to the city from Miami
I was out there with the family just looking at my daughter, thinking to myself like damn my baby look just like my daddy
The same time I got the news my shit went number one that’s fucked up
The way DaBaby puts a fierce emphasis on a phrase like “looking at my daughter,” before dipping his voice to admit that she looks just like his dad is gutting. Throughout the song, he keeps bringing up a year of success and puncturing it with another bar about his father’s death as if he still can’t believe it. DaBaby spent most of 2019 rising through a stubborn sense of consistency, but on “Intro” he proves we’ve still yet to see the full breadth of his talent.