DaBaby’s Rap Flow: An Absurdly Detailed Investigation

Does DaBaby always rap with the same flow? Does he always start rapping at the beginning of the track? We have answers.
Author:
Publish date:

“DaBaby always uses the same flow.”

Star rapper DaBaby has a unique flow that is very much his own, but is the above opinion—a common one in rap circles—valid? Does DaBaby always use the same flow? 

Since I have a lot of free time, fuck it, let’s take a look. To deliver my findings, I’ve collaborated with a group of experienced mathematicians and bioengineers. We’ve been working around the clock in our lab (read: my living room), crunching the numbers, all to answer a profound question that, for the past eight months, has painfully plagued humankind.

My team of experts and I (read: really just me) have re-listened to DaBaby’s entire project discography and counted not only how many times DaBaby has employed the “DaBaby flow,” but also how many times he starts rapping immediately at the one-second marker — another common observation. To make everything neat and clean, we’ve split up our findings into two sections: DaBaby mixtapes and DaBaby studio albums. I know you’re thinking: “Why are you breaking it up into different sections and being so elaborate?” Because fuck you, that’s why.

Before we analyze how often DaBaby uses his trademark flow, let’s break down what the “DaBaby flow” actually is. DaBaby’s flow is wordy and crammed, yet feels effortless and smooth. He jam-packs a multitude of syllables into a single bar, like packing a family of 22 children into a MINI Cooper. DaBaby unloads all these syllables like slugs from an uzi, correctly pacing each word without letting them sloppily spill into the next kick of the snare.

Often, DaBaby sounds downright giddy, creating an effect where his voice bounces around in your brain from left to right. It feels like he’s rapping right in front of you while running in a tiny circle around your body, not unlike a toddler who had too much sugar or my friend, Joey, when he tried cocaine for the first time.

As for our secondary measurement, DaBaby is also known for beginning his flow at literally zero seconds into the song. He is a busy man; he doesn’t have time to wait for the beat to drop. Imagine flooring an Aston Martin One-77 while you’re in the passenger seat and haven’t buckled your seatbelt yet. That is how DaBaby begins most of his records.

Before I offer further analysis or findings, let’s review the source material. For research, we listened to five DaBaby mixtapes, which total a combined 51 songs:

Of the 51 songs across these five mixtapes, DaBaby begins rapping immediately (one second or less into the track) on a total of eight tracks, or 15.6 percent of the time:

  • “Next Song”
  • “4x”
  • “No Tears”
  • “Kujo”
  • “For The Summer”
  • “Tax Time”
  • “Back To Cali”
  • “Switch”

Of the 51 songs across these five mixtapes, DaBaby uses the “DaBaby flow” on 16 of the 51 tracks, or 31.3 percent of the time:

  • “Next Song”
  • “Blank Blank”
  • “Deserve It”
  • “4x”
  • “Milli”
  • “No Love”
  • “Off Top”
  • “Kujo”
  • “Tax Time”
  • “Webbie”
  • “Back To Cali”
  • “Flip Phone”
  • “Switch”
  • “Comin’ Over”
  • “Old Friends”
  • “Who Working Harder”

These numbers are low. BUT, the question is, did DaBaby’s DaBaby-ism’s become more frequent in 2019, once he began to find his voice and started capitalizing on what made him unique? SPOILER ALERT: Yeah.

To date, DaBaby has released two projects that we are considering full-length studio albums because, well, they are full-length and they are studio albums. I don’t care what the marketing people say. Those two projects are:

Across Baby On Baby and KIRK, DaBaby starts rapping immediately (one second or less into the track) on 11 of the 26 tracks, or 42.3 percent of the time:

  • “Taking It Out”
  • “Deal Wit’ It”
  • “Baby Sitter”
  • “Celebrate”
  • “Joggers”
  • “Carpet Burn”
  • “INTRO”
  • “OFF THE RIP”
  • “TOES”
  • “PROLLY HEARD”
  • “RAW S**T”

Of the 26 tracks across Baby On Baby and KIRK, DaBaby uses the “DaBaby flow” a total of 21 times, which is roughly 81 percent.

  • “Taking It Out”
  • “Suge”
  • “Goin Baby”
  • “Pony”
  • “Baby Sitter”
  • “Celebrate”
  • “Joggers”
  • “Best Friend”
  • “Tupac”
  • “Backend”
  • “Walker Texas Ranger”
  • “INTRO”
  • “OFF THE RIP”
  • “BOP”
  • “VIBEZ”
  • “POP STAR”
  • “GOSPEL”
  • “TOES”
  • “REALLY”
  • “THERE HE GO”
  • “XXL”

Now, let’s combine all the material — the total is 77 tracks — and get into some further analysis. Across his given discography, DaBaby uses his classic “DaBaby flow” 37 times, which is an even 48 percent. He starts rapping immediately 18 times, which equals 23.3 percent. If we were to make a graph of DaBaby’s DaBaby-ism’s since 2016, it would increase exponentially over three years, fully taking form in 2019. Much like a chart of my binge-drinking since my sophomore year of college, the numbers would gradually go up until they were too large to comprehend or handle.

In his early mixtapes, DaBaby mostly used a Migos-esque trap flow while slowly tinkering with his own. When we revisit his discography in chronological order, we hear DaBaby discover his unique flow in real-time, like watching a superhero gradually notice their powers. DaBaby’s DaBaby-isms reached their full DaBabyness in 2019 when he burst through the bolted door of superstardom. I know it’s weird to think about, since March 2020 was its own fucking decade, but all of this growth happened very recently.

Take “INTRO” on 2019’s KIRK, a track that perfectly exemplifies all of DaBaby’s DaBaby-ism’s.

On “INTRO,” DaBaby dives headfirst into rapping zero seconds into the first track of his first full-length studio album, grabbing us by the throat and dragging us into his world like he’s scared of losing our attention. He spits, “Thinkin ‘bout my grandmama and shit / I got the number one record, they acknowledged the jit” an hour before you even press play on the song. DaBaby’s flow on “INTRO” is modern-day DaBaby to a T. From 0:43 to 0:47, he spits, “What you know ‘bout smilin’ every day for all your fans actin like you happy? / I spent a hundred thousand layin’ my daddy to rest but I ain’t braggin.” Those 29 words shouldn’t fit into four seconds unless you’re doing that supersonic speed “rappity rap” style that only impresses white teenagers named Travis.

How does DaBaby do it? Is it a superpower? Did he stumble upon a genie and wish for it? The world may never know, sadly. DaBaby casually brushes off the critics on the infinitely replayable “BOP,” crooning, “‘When you gon’ switch the flow?’ / I thought you’d never ask” before proceeding to not switch up his flow, like your alcoholic uncle who starts drinking even more after you tell him he needs to drink less. See also: a hero.

But enough about my future as your drunk uncle. Does DaBaby always use the same flow? At 48 percent of our total sample size, it’s definitely a thing. But is it a bad thing? I don’t think it is. It will only turn bad if, in a few years, a sea of new rappers are ripping off DaBaby’s signature flow. I pray we don’t hear to bear witness a bunch of shitty clones like DaToddler and DaMiddleSchooler. It’s gonna be a goddamn national tragedy.

And then the other question we wanted to answer: Does DaBaby always rap right before the beat starts? At 23.3 percent of our sample size, definitely not. It feels like more, but that’s because the DaBaby’s flow feels so calmly chaotic. He’s like a rap magician, but instead of pulling rabbits out of hats, he pulls awkward dance moves out of drunk white girls when “BOP” starts playing in the club.

If you made it this far, thank you. Let’s wrap up. So, what did we learn here today? DaBaby has his own flow, and he reaches into that bag pretty often, but having “your own flow” is no small feat. In hip-hop, just like every art form, the only thing worse than being bad is being just like everyone else.

Related