DaBaby, born Jonathan Kirk, lives life full-throttle. He raps fast; he lives fast. He is the antithesis of stillness. Following the release of two commercially successful albums―Baby on Baby and KIRK―the Charlotte, North Carolina native is positioned to take over the music industry.
Although it’s only been seven months since the release of KIRK and the success of popular singles “BOP” and “VIBEZ,” DaBaby returns to the spotlight with BLAME IT ON BABY, a new album featuring Future, Megan Thee Stallion, Roddy Ricch, and more.
The decision to release BLAME IT ON BABY now—the cover is the first to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic—means DaBaby will forever be associated with this moment in human history. When hip-hop looks back on 2020 and the months of quarantine, they’ll remember DaBaby releasing BLAME IT ON BABY, and how the album made them feel. At least, that should have been DaBaby’s goal when he decided to unleash the project.
In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish.
1. “CAN’T STOP”
DaBaby has arrived. “Ain’t no stopping a nigga like me.” He’s talking that talk. He breathes confidence. I like the production. It’s airy. A subtle bounce. He’s feeling himself. He’s a rapper on fire. “I only answer to God.” “CAN’T STOP” sounds like it was recorded after a soldout show in Madison Square Garden. I like it. Verse two is refreshing. Not as explosive as the first. Brag raps. Big brags. “When I get in my feelings, I make niggas feel it.” That was a strong, “Bitch ass nigga.” This is a man I wouldn’t try to stop. Juggernaut rap. DaBaby is a rap giant.
2. “PICK UP” feat. Quavo
“PICK UP” is slower. Kind of ambient with a bounce. Interesting. He sounds like he’s rapping slower, taking his time. “I look better in person.” Ha. He glows confidence. “PICK UP” is cool. I’m not sure who made this beat, but… Quavo! Quavo raps like a professional football coach. I mean that in the best way. A man on the field, commanding, the confidence of a leader. The Nick Saban of rap. I like him on this better than DaBaby. It feels more natural than the songs on Quavo’s solo album. “You already know I’m the goat.” Okay, sir. “PICK UP” is fine.
3. “LIGHTSKIN SH*T” feat. Future & Jetsonmade
“LIGHTSKIN SH*T” doesn’t sound like a Jetson beat. A good bounce. DaBaby has a good melody, I can see it being popular on Instagram. There’s going to be some interesting discourse around this one. Future! Sonically, this is so bright for Future. I like Future’s voice on this. He sounds a bit like Thug. He’s talking that talk. “Hard to fall off I’m super relevant.” He killed it. “LIGHTSKIN SH*T” isn’t a bad song, but it’s not gripping.
4. “TALK ABOUT IT”
Wheezy! Whew! “TALK ABOUT IT” is the one. Infectious. I love hearing the word “Jit” in rap songs. It’s so Southern. DaBaby is swagging. So much life. So much pride. “TALK ABOUT IT” is the song Drake should be on. Started from the bottom now I’m here rap. A keeper. He’s good, real good. “All a nigga know is hustle.” You want to follow him to the top.
5. “SAD SH*T”
“Let me do some sad shit.” Man, this record don’t sound sad. He’s singing. Is he trying to get his girl back? I don’t know what’s happening. He’s switching pitches. He sounds like a possessed Young Thug. Now he’s back on his pimping. Was that a Migo ad-lib? Nothing makes sense. Is that a vocal sample? How is this song still building? “You ever got your heart broken, nigga?” Man, what is happening. How is this song still going? DaBaby songs aren’t supposed to last this long. Where is Rich Homie Quan? If Rich Homie would’ve made this same song, I’d be crying in the club. “SAD SH*T” has too much performance to be sad.
6. “FIND MY WAY”
“Wait a minute, who are you?” Ha, I like the drop. “FIND MY WAY” is boring. By far, the slowest DaBaby has ever sounded. The songs don’t progress with any purpose. He’s so still. “FIND MY WAY” isn’t saying much to me. That Melly line wasn’t it. I like the line about him being a hero. Man, skip.
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7. “ROCKSTAR” feat. Roddy Ricch
I’m excited to hear Roddy. I know my sister-in-law is somewhere ecstatic. DaBaby leaning into this type of melodic rap creates the ideal setting for Roddy to skate. So far, “ROCKSTAR” is alright. A nice flow switch. The PTSD line got me. Oh man, he just mentioned the murder in Wal-Mart. Crazy. Roddy! The million-dollar voice. I hear so much music that sounds like him. He’s skating. He is Tony Hawk, and “ROCKSTAR” is his skatepark. “ROCKSTAR” is a fine song. It could be a big single, but I don’t feel compelled to hear it again.
8. “JUMP” feat. Youngboy Never Broke Again
“Cha-ching.” The bounce! NBA YoungBoy has a voice that projects with charisma. Yeah, this is good. Real good. It’s a single. It’s going to be a Black Air Force 1 summer. Such an infectious song. “Made a song in 10 minutes and went platinum.” I love hearing DaBaby brag about his accomplishments. “I make it jump like crack in the ’80s.” Voices from Baton Rouge jump in your veins. Southern rappers have such a natural bounce in their voices. It’s a cheat code. Youngboy ate. Keeper. DaBaby’s second verse is charming. These two are a good combo. I didn’t expect much, but they align as if they were kindred spirits.
“Yeah, I took the cash route.” His words are embedded with passion. The melodic flow works for him. “CHAMPION” reminds me of Rich Homie Quan, but Quan was belting it out. DaBaby sings from the heart, but Rich Homie sang from the gut. DaBaby’s a champion. Rich Homie Quan was an angel.
10. “DROP” feat. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie & London On Da Track,
I don’t like “DROP.” DaBaby’s singing is not selling a product I want to buy. He’s just not offering much here, and I’m not a fan of the production. A Boogie sounds more at home. So many artists sound like A Boogie. Or does A Boogie sound like so many artists? I can hear “DROP” on the radio. It’s not striking, but it’s kind of pleasant in a commercial rap way. “Why the fuck wouldn’t they want to rob me?” Well, that’s one way of putting it, Boogie. “DROP” is a skip.
11. “BLAME IT ON BABY”
Ahh! These keys. His voice. Yep, this is personality. This is speed. This is rhythm. Where was this energy!? He’s talking that talk. I have been waiting for “BLAME IT ON BABY” all album. Yep, yep, yep. “I know I’m on top, I’m a target.” He’s taking off. A rocket ship is taking off. “Slow down, slow down.” WHERE WAS THIS ALL ALBUM!? Jesus, man. Let’s go!
12. “NASTY” feat. Ashanti & Megan Thee Stallion
Of course, he sampled Ashanti’s “Baby.” This is cool. I imagine JaRule will appreciate this effort. I can hear “NASTY” on the radio. DaBaby reminds me of Ludacris at times. He’s a rapper with a striking personality who raps with vivid lyricism. Of course, London made this track. Megan! Oh, this a hit. If people could go outside, the day parties would eat this up. It’s so familiar. It’s so nasty. She gave DaBaby the verse “NASTY” needed. Tina Snow raps. “NASTY” worked better than I expected. I was worried it would be cheesy. I spoke too soon. Why is DaBaby still rapping? This song doesn’t need to be this long. Ashanti sounds fine, but I didn’t need additional vocals. “NASTY” could’ve ended three “babies” ago. Brevity people, brevity.
13. “AMAZING GRACE”
“A nigga barely read the scripture, but I’m spiritual.” I like this. It’s honest. I’m not in love with the mix. I feel like a tighter mix would’ve made this one pop. There’s a rawness to “AMAZING GRACE”—a demo that was too good to record again. Not a grand finale, but a memorable one.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on DaBaby’s BLAME IT ON BABY:
DaBaby’s BLAME IT ON BABY is an interesting album. Musically and lyrically, the work is not a massive departure from the winning tricks and acrobatics that made Baby on Baby and KIRK successful releases. But, instead of introducing a new perspective or revealing anything about himself that we didn’t already know, DaBaby repeats familiar tropes alongside famous friends and over contemporary productions.
At best, BLAME IT ON BABY reaffirms DaBaby has the charisma of a rap star. He has the voice, confidence, and style to be a giant among men. But does he have the songwriting? BLAME IT ON BABY, on first listen, makes you wonder. There are some high highs, like “NASTY,” “UP,” and “TALK ABOUT IT,” but, as an album, BLAME IT ON BABY isn’t undeniable.
DaBaby is still a new artist. Emerging into his stardom. BLAME IT ON BABY is an album that says, “I’m on the way,” not, “I have arrived.”