There are 13 songs on DaBaby’s Interscope debut, Baby on Baby, and on those 13 songs, he starts rapping at the following timestamps: 0:00, 0:07, 0:08, 0:16, 0:00, 0:00, 0:01, 0:00, 0:00, 0:02, 0:02, 0:06, and 0:11. This is the fundamental appeal of DaBaby’s music—it’s aggressive, energetic, obsessed with forward motion. The Charlotte native can turn a colorful phrase and sell rote ones through sheer charisma. There are no moody beat shifts or lofty gestures: DaBaby is not trying to be played in museums or at brunch.
But what the 27-year-old shirks in on-record gimmickry he more than embraces on the promotional front. He famously popped up on the streets of Austin wearing nothing but a diaper during SXSW 2017. (This was shortly after he’d changed his name from Baby Jesus.) Recently, his music videos have become funnier, weirder, and more viral. There’s “Next Song,” where DaBaby gets pulled over, hotboxing his car and getting head from the passenger, and placates the cop by telling him to check out DaBaby on Apple Music; there’s the breakout hit “Walker Texas Ranger,” where DaBaby swerves up and down a mountain in a Dodge Ram, watching twerking videos on his iPhone from behind the wheel; there’s “Mini Van,” his collaboration with the Memphis rapper Blocboy JB, where they turn the titular vehicle into the headquarters for a very pleasant-seeming crime syndicate. Just yesterday he dropped the clip for “Suge (Yea Yea),” where he impersonates the Death Row CEO (complete with a muscle suit and a comically large cigar) and a crooked mailman.
None of which is to say that DaBaby or his music can be written off as a simple joke. Songs like the Rich Homie Quan-assisted “Celebrate”—or earlier songs like “No Tears”—are undergirded by betrayal and grim stakes. There’s also the matter of the fatal shooting at a Huntersville, North Carolina Walmart last fall, which left a 19-year-old man dead. (DaBaby says he was shopping with his two children and their mother when a man attempted to rob him; he has not been charged with a crime.) DaBaby is funny, sure, but he is also dead serious.- “Pitchfork Review”