A tired formula...

At the dawning of his career, I valued DaBaby’s rise into mainstream and his devaluation of gangsterism in rap as something more than groundbreaking.

Mirroring his success to a young Busta Rhymes in the early '90s and his injection of afro-futurism into hip-hop, I proudly held DaBaby and his sound to a high standard. Not only does he possess that raw, humorous charm on stage and in his music videos but the North Carolina native has also stayed true to his black as f*** aesthetic, giving him easy access to becoming the new IT boy for hip-hop.

But last night, upon listening to the release of his third studio album ‘Blame It On Baby’ I couldn’t help but feel anything but disappointed.

Offering 13 tracks of Hennessy-infused rhyming, drums on drums on drums and a nasty Kidz Bop styled beat to tie it all together, the album is sadly a fresh reminder that DaBaby is hip-hop’s biggest one-trick pony. Unlike the release of his second studio album, KIRK released last year, a major fraction of 'Blame It On Baby' lacks effort and even originality. From a few odd collaboration pairings to the evident and unsuccessful attempt at flow change on tracks like 'Find My Way', 'Rockstar', 'Drop' and 'Blame It On Baby', Mr Jonathan Lyndale Kirk has collected his first significant L on a project.

'Can't Stop', the intro to the album does what it’s meant to do, get you hyped but by the time you reach track No. 3 'Lightskin Sh*t' featuring Future and jetsonmade, the head-bobbing and stank face starts to feel redundant, and that’s where the problem begins. Each song unexpectedly dissolves into the next one, leaving you unaware that a new track has even started. Appearances from Roddy Ricch, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and London On Da Track sweetly fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle on this album, which, I find quite disturbing especially when the lead artist is getting washed on his on project.

Unsurprisingly, the standout track belongs to the threeway collaboration between himself, Ashanti and Megan The Stallion on the track 'Nasty'. Sampling bits from Ashanti’s 2002 hit 'Baby' off her self-titled album; her vocals provide nostalgia that warms that heart and then sets it on fire as soon as Megan steps in. There’s no denying that when Baby Jesus and the Houston Hottie pair up on a song, it’s instant flames, but at this point, I would like to see DaBaby not rely on a Meg collab to save the day.

Of course, anybody with a Twitter account has chimed in on the back and forth conversation surrounding DaBaby’s sound and longevity in hip-hop and rightfully, so especially when projects this unfulfilling are gifted to the genre. While I applaud him for going against the grain of most artists who are holding off of dropping new music during these quarantining times, the album doesn’t quite match up to his potential or skillset. It hurts to admit it, but DaBaby has let us down with this one.

If there were ever a meme that could correctly describe how this album sounds, it would be the two men dressed as Spider-Man pointing at each other in utter confusion (and disappointment). I am a fan of DaBaby and only want him to win, but I think it’s time he sits back and re-shakes the formula that he’s using because it’s past its sell-by date.

4/10

Words: Shakeena Johnson

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