There are a lot of “Baby” rappers in the game at the moment, but none are gaining momentum quite like DaBaby. The 27-year-old artist has only been rapping since 2014, and yet, he’s already attracted a large fan base with hits like “Suge” and “Goin Baby.”
Born Jonathan Lyndale Kirk in Cleveland, Ohio, he and his family relocated to North Carolina when he was just five years old. He had some brushes with the law, but decided to turn his life around in order to take care of his kids and find new direction for his life. Not long after he traded his extracurricular activities in for rap, DaBaby won fans over with his signature deep voice on his debut album, Baby on Baby. His charismatic personality on social media propelled him forward in the industry, as well as on the Billboard charts.
He’s just taking off, but DaBaby is already claiming he's the best rapper out. It's a bold statement, but with a platinum record taking over the radio (and landing at the top of our Best Songs of 2019 So Far list), a placement on a No. 1 album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, and a spot in XXL’s 2019 Freshman Class, DaBaby is well on his way to becoming a household name.
Here's everything you need to know about DaBaby.
He began his career rapping under the name ‘Baby Jesus’
DaBaby performed under the moniker, Baby Jesus, until 2017. During an interview with XXL, he explained the name change “shows me the amount of love and respect people have for me. To change the name and not lose any traction, that’s something a lot of people have trouble doing.”
He wore a diaper at SXSW 2017
DaBaby gained national attention in 2017 at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. It wasn’t his live performance that turned heads, though. He was walking around in a diaper. During several interviews in the following years, he explained that the diaper was merely an advertising scheme that created buzz around his name. Fortunately for the concert-goers, he didn’t actually use the diaper as a portable toilet.
He was involved in a shooting at Walmart in 2018
DaBaby has an extensive rap sheet. He’s been arrested for driving with a fake license, as well as possession of an illegal firearm and marijuana possession. Additionally, the rapper was involved in a shooting at Walmart, which resulted in the death of one person. Following the incident, DaBaby released a video explaining his involvement, claiming that he shot the man in self-defense.
"If them gunshots ain't go off, nigga, my fuckin' daughter could've got hit, son could've got hit, me," he said in the video. "Fuckin' lawyers telling me not to say something and shit, fuck all that. Two niggas walk down on you and your whole muthafuckin' family, threaten y'all, whip out on y'all, nigga, let me see what y'all gon' too. You feel me? I wasn't in no muthafuckin' produce section, I wasn't grocery shopping, I was buying my baby some more winter clothes, nigga, it's cold outside, nigga."
After an initial gun-related charge was dismissed, he was found guilty of a concealed weapon charge in June. According to TMZ, he was sentenced to a year of unsupervised probation.
Roc Nation signed DaBaby, but both parties parted ways before the news was announced
At one point, DaBaby was only moments away from getting his Roc chain. The rapper confirmed that he inked some sort of deal with JAY-Z’s Roc Nation, but things didn’t work out for unknown reasons. “We had a situation going on with Roc Nation, we did. For whatever reason, I mean, it was getting off to a slow start. We parted ways respectfully,” he revealed on The Breakfast Club in March 2019. Everything worked out, though. DaBaby has been signed to Interscope Records since January 2019, and he seems to be happy with the new contract. “Interscope, they go crazy for us,” he said confidently. “They greenlighted me off the rip, like let’s get it. We love what we do.”
He says he got into music to help people
After several run-ins with the law, DaBaby decided that he wanted to make a change in his life. He discovered rap in 2014 and said he used it as an outlet to help others who lived a similar lifestyle and needed guidance. “I had already been successful with the things I was doing on the streets; I really kind of got bored with it,” he explained during an interview with XXL. “I was all about touching people and influencing people. I always been that type of person. I was the one teaching people things; I just always had a way with my words and I always spoke with substance. I figured, what better way to touch people and change people lives than with the music?”
Denzel Washington is the only one capable of playing him in a biopic
According to DaBaby, the only actor worthy of playing him in a biopic is Denzel Washington. And the film would obviously be called, Baby Jesus. “We might need Denzel to go back in a time machine,” he joked with Rolling Stone. Just the thought of this screenplay deserves an Oscar.
Being one of many “Baby” rappers doesn’t bother him
The music market is saturated with “Baby” artists at the moment. There’s Baby (aka Birdman), Lil Baby, Baby Keem, Yung Baby Tate, Bhad Bhabie, and more. Ordinarily, having a similar name as another artist could be a problem, but DaBaby says he’s cool with the growing community of babies. “I ain’t trippin’ man,” he said on The Breakfast Club. “I salute it. I love it. I don’t shy away from it.” In July, he even collaborated with Lil Baby. The song name? “Baby.” Of course.
He says he's "the best rapper"
DaBaby has only been in the game for five years, but he is already claiming that he is the best rapper alive. “I feel like, since 2019, period, ain’t nobody [outworked me]. I done outworked everybody," he told XXL. “And if I'm lying, let's line it up. Let's line up music that's put out, let's lineup videos that's [been] put out. Period. Let's lineup day-to-day content. Show's that's been done.” Making it clear how he feels about himself, DaBaby added, “I'm the best motherfuckin' rapper. I plan to exceed all expectations. The best motherfuckin' rapper.”
He once paid Boosie $15k for a feature
At the beginning of his career, DaBaby had to pay for features, and they weren’t cheap. In a March 2019 interview with The Breakfast Club, the rapper recalled the time he paid Boosie $15K to appear on one of his songs. Despite the hefty price tag, DaBaby confirmed the two worked well together, so much so that Boosie agreed to record another song with the newcomer for half the price. Salute to Boosie for knowing his worth and hustling.
He says he's not affiliated with gangs
Despite many conflicting reports, DaBaby says he is not affiliated with gangs. The rumor began swirling after DaBaby appeared to be throwing a red flag, which is a symbol of the Bloods, in a video on social media. While the rapper claims several of his loved ones are in gangs, he insists that he is not a part of one. “Baby don’t motherfuckin’ gang bang,” he explained in a video ripped by Tape Alert. “Baby ain’t Blood. Baby ain’t Crip. Baby ain’t GD. That shit you saw in the video, that wasn’t no red flag. It didn’t have the print on both sides.”
His dream features include Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, and more
DaBaby’s dream features would be Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, and Jay-Z, according to HotNewHipHop. He previously named J. Cole as a dream collaborator, but he’s already knocked that one off the list after the two worked on “Under the Sun,” which appeared on Revenge of the Dreamers III.
He’s reportedly being sued for a fight involving his security team that left one person in a coma
While DaBaby has left much of his street life behind, he was reportedly sued in June 2019 by a Massachusetts rapper by the name of Don Trag. The incident in question went down at the Centro Nightclub in Lawrence, MA. when Trag (whose real name is Donald Saladin) allegedly asked DaBaby for a photo backstage. Trag alleges that the artist’s security team began beating him up after the photo request. There is video footage that shows a portion of the beating. Trag says he was beaten so badly that he ended up in a coma for several days. As a result of the beating, Trag claims he sustained injuries to his head, eyes, neck, and spine. He later slipped into a coma for several days due to swelling in the brain and neck. According to legal documents obtained by TMZ, Trag racked up more than $75K in hospital bills and expenses and is seeking a large settlement from DaBaby to cover the damages.
He is gaining a reputation for his memorable freestyles
Hand a mic to DaBaby at any point in time, and you know he’s going to kill it. Since Baby stepped into the industry, he has been making waves on social media with his freestyles. He has garnered a lot of praise for his freestyle in the XXL Freshman cypher. He’s also demonstrated his attention-demanding cadence and clever wordplay in freestyles on Funk Flex, The L.A. Leakers, and FuckYouTalmbout. DaBaby is such a standout freestyler, that even T.I. had to give him his props. “My Boi Eatin on dis HO,” T.I. wrote on Instagram following his L.A. Leakers freestyle.