Four months ago, Rolling Stone proclaimed “The Best Rappers in the World Are Babies.” Hip-hop’s new favorite naming convention was on the rise (just look at Sada Baby, SahBabii, Bhad Bhabie, Bali Baby, BBG Baby Joe, Yung Baby Tate, Baby Keem, and BbyMutha), but it was DaBaby and Lil Baby‘s cultural dominance that influenced the 90% serious, 15% joke post that won’t die.
At that point, DaBaby was getting his first taste of broader support, thanks to a recent Interscope signing and years of developing a grassroots fanbase. His new album, Baby on Baby, was four days old, and “Suge” was a promising song with an enticing video that showed absolutely no signs of one day peaking at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lil Baby was coming off a year in which he produced multiple hits (“Yes Indeed,” “Drip Too Hard,” “Close Friends”), and switched from the potential future of Atlanta rap to its bright talent. In a March interview with Rolling Stone, DaBaby revealed that his biggest competition in the completely fabricated rapper baby race was Lil Baby.
“Out of all of them right now I’d say Lil Baby, just at where he’s hot at, but I wouldn’t even call it competition,” DaBaby shared. “I’m more inspired than anything. Cause the way he came out and rose to the top of the game, I’m more inspired than anything, but I definitely got to take off my hat to what he got going on.”
Four months later, the duo drops the aptly-titled “Baby.” This song should be an event, pairing two Southern heirs apparent, but it arrives with less fanfare than it should muster. Produced by Wheezy, the brief track is proof that chemistry is never promised, no matter how many surface-level connections two artists share. Lil Baby delivers a listless hook updating the world on key facts about the life of Baby, namely that he puts on for the city, is the realest, is a millionaire, and has a propensity to drop classics. DaBaby’s turn on the song doesn’t fare better, he raps about his prowess with women in a surprisingly charmless screed.
For two of the best rappers in the world, “Baby,” is a synopsis of their worst individual artistic tendencies. The song isn’t bad enough to stop Lil Baby and DaBaby’s momentum, but it’s lifeless enough to make one wonder where Gunna was at when they were in the studio.