Every season it seems like a new face from Atlanta emerges and starts to make waves. The latest newcomer is the rapper Lil Baby. His story is pretty wild. Lil Baby grew up in the same neighborhood as his close friend Young Thug and Quality Control Music co-founder Pierre “Pee” Thomas. While they were busy with the rap world, Baby was caught up in the street life, which eventually lead to a prison sentence of five years for selling drugs in 2014. He came home after serving two years late last year and turned his focus to music. The move came after heeding advice from fellow Quality Control co-founder Kevin “Coach K” Lee.
Since then, Baby dropped his debut mixtape, Perfect Timing, in April, signaling his arrival in the industry. The project is chock-full of ATL talent, featuring guest appearances from Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Duke, Gunna and Young Scooter. He followed up that project with his DJ Drama Gangsta Grillz-hosted tape Harder Than Hard featuring his biggest song to date, “My Dawg.” For Lil Baby, who has only been rapping for a little over six months and already has his own label, 4 Pockets Full, he’s learning every day about what it takes to be a big player in hip-hop.
“The first project, I made 16 songs and put 12 of them on the mixtape,” he told XXL over the phone. “The intro to the project was the first song I ever recorded. The next tape, it wasn’t even going to be a mixtape. I was just recording. Then Pee from QC [Quality Control] said you’re going to put a mixtape and we went from there. We’re put that mixtape together in two days.”
Lil Baby has some big goals ahead of 2018. “I actually plan on dropping two more tapes before the year is over,” he reveals. “One of my personal partners, his name is Marlo, we plan on dropping a joint mixtape together called Two the Hard Way. We are working on that right now.”
With Lil Baby’s raw talent in addition to the guidance from Coach K and Pee—both are managing the young upstart under their Solid Foundation management company—the future is bright. Get familiar with Lil Baby in XXL‘s The Break.
Name: Lil Baby
I grew up listening to: “I grew up listening to everybody. I like music, I listened to all rappers; people like Jeezy, Yo Gotti, T.I. I just started rapping six months ago. [Quality Control Music co-founder] Coach K has been telling me to rap for years. One of my bros called me and we talked on the phone for like two to three hours and I just said I’m going to take it serious. Before that, I never really thought about rapping. Coach K told me he thinks I should start rapping because of my image, my lifestyle. ‘You got a lifestyle or an image you might as well rap about what’s going on.’ I tried it and it started to move fast so I stuck with it. I’m very humble and things are moving so fast, I don’t even get a chance to ponder on it. Everyday it be something different.
“Last two years I had been in prison. It’s been an amazing blessing [since I was released from prison]. Selling drugs ended me up in prison. I got a five-year sentence and I did two. When I came home, everything was right on point. That’s why I called my first project Perfect Timing. Everything has been going good ever since, I wouldn’t change anything. The prison bid that I did, it changed me and motivated me. I always knew Peewee from QC [Quality Control] because of the streets and I knew Coach K for like six to seven years. Back then he always told me to rap. I told Coach I didn’t know how to rap and he told me, ‘Jeezy didn’t know how to rap. Just do it.’ So when I came home prison, I was just like I’ma just try. It’s been going good ever since.
“I got the name Lil Baby because I always hung around older dudes. When I was like 10 I was hanging with niggas like 18, 19; even now I hang around older dudes. I’m the baby out the crew. So they just started calling me Lil Baby. I like to record on late nights, like 3 a.m. in the morning. I probably never made a song in the daytime when the sun is up. I just be busy during the day.”
My style has been compared to: “No one has compared me to anyone yet. Everyone has said I got my own sound. I can’t really describe my sound. A lot of songs I’m kind of singing and rapping.
Most people don’t know: “Really nobody don’t know anything about me other than what I put in my songs. The image I have now it makes it look like I’m living good—which I am now—but it wasn’t an easy process. A lot of people don’t know that I never thought I would be put in this situation. Some people ambitions are like, ‘I’m going to be big one day.’ I never had that.”
My standout moment to date has been: “Getting a million streams on my mixtape in a week. I’m almost at two million streams right now. My favorite song is ‘My Dawg’ right now because that gets me booked.”
My goal in hip-hop is: “My goal is to be a superstar, make a lot of cash, that’s basically the goal. Get a lot of money to change my life; be legit in life.”
I’m going to be the next: “I will be the next Jeezy and Future only because the effect they got on the Atlanta streets. Not like because how they sound but on some street stuff.”
Follow Lil Baby on Instagram and SoundCloud.
Standouts: “My Dawg”
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Harder Than Hard
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See New Music Releases for September 2017