Music Features

Is DaBaby His Own Worst Enemy?

With the more recent headlines surrounding the emcee, it's felt like DaBaby has finally done something he can't finagle out of.

DaBaby "Giving What It's Supposed To Give" music video

DaBaby has been difficult to absorb lately.

The Charlottesville emcee was an exciting burst of caffeine right out the gates. His energized flow, goofy sense of humor, and IDGAF rhetoric made him seem like a Roadrunner, always on the move and always outmaneuvering those whothink they'd finally outsmarted him.

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Meg Thee Stallion has been on an unstoppable tear for months now, and on her debut single off Suga, she uses the opportunity to speak to the people, particularly the men, that have continued to agitate her as a budding superstar.

"I'd rather be a B-I-T-C-H / 'Cause that's what you gon' call me when i'm trippin' anyway." As demonstrated by her Tiny Desk late last year, Meg's delivery remains succinct and hypnotic, the relatively-young emcee reigning over a refreshed 2Pac sample using nothing more than a relaxed shrug. "You say you want respect, well treat me how you wanna be treated," she says devoid of bitterness. "You want me to blow your phone up and come a-lookin' for you 'til I find ya," she adds with a sarcastic smirk and a finger wag.

The paparazzi haven't been necessarily kind to Thee Stallion. They've hounded her for every fleeting love interest she has, dissected her height and even the size of her feet, but even so Meg has given 0 f*cks, and that is her greatest superpower. "Why y'all want me to be a "hoe" so bad?" she wrote after dismissing a love interest with Trey Songz. "I ain't addressing sh*t else bye." She ended the tweet with a laughing emoji. Check out "B.I.T.C.H." below.

www.youtube.com

MUSIC

DaBaby Charms on "Kirk," but He's Afraid to Get Serious

The rapper's sophomore album is DaBaby doing what he does best, being fun and hilarious.

"Friends are like the autumn, every year they leavin," Charlottesville rapper DaBaby says on Post Malone's "Enemies," "and 'imma rake 'em in a pile, throw 'em in a bag, tie them b*tches, up and leave 'em."

DaBaby - Intro (official music video) www.youtube.com

This verse is an embodiment of what makes Jonathan Lyndale Kirk such an anomalous rapper. On one hand, he is extremely brutish and tough, having been involved in two extremely violent disputes over the last year. He is also charismatic, a natural-born storyteller known for his electrifying songs. DaBaby has developed an uncanny ability to combine humorous anecdotes with poignant self-awareness, all with the bravado and precision of a veteran emcee. His interviews are no different; he captivated the usually manic and talkative hosts of The Breakfast Club with stories of his antics, all while pausing to make jokes and keep the mood light. He is an unusual yet welcome addition to a genre bloated with copy cats, and he's the perfect rapper for this age of short attention spans. In one moment, he's describing how he unknowingly witnessed his girlfriend's mother masturbating to a picture of him, then in a flip of a switch, he's preaching about the legacy of his dead father.


While the cover art for KIRK and the intro track both implied that the album would be a shift towards more poignant lyricism and feature less goofing around, the rapper's sophomore album is primarily just more of the latter. As charming as they are, a majority of the songs cover the usual braggadocious themes of hip-hop. DaBaby rarely ever leaves his comfort zone, but that doesn't mean the album doesn't make for a satisfying listen. "POP STAR" features a refreshed and revitalized Kevin Gates—whose daring sophomore album also dropped today—and has the makings of a Billboard hit. "iPHONE," featuring a newly-retired Nicki Minaj, is equally as appealing for hip-hop radio, while "BOP," "VIBEZ," and "PROLLY HEARD" are all nice additions to the DaBaby discography, offering witty lyricism and relentless swagger, ("these n*****, they lactose-intolerant, b*tch, I'm married to cheese, no divorcin',") but not much else in way of complex thematic material.

Yet DaBaby shows that impressive lyrical chops are in his wheelhouse if he wants to access them. "GOSPEL," the only other song besides "INTRO" to delve into new waters for the rapper, is earnest and genuine. It serves as a moment of reflection for the emcee, who has been on an unstoppable tear since the beginning of the year. "I ain't had time to think, I ain't had time to breathe," he raps. But a moment is all he needs before DaBaby is back on his bullsh*t, and that has always been the appeal. It's unclear what we can expect next from "The Baby," but for now, it's easy to continue to enjoy the ride.

KIRK

MUSIC

Female Rappers Lead the 2019 Freshman Class

XXL Magazine finally dropped their freshman cyphers, and Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, and Tierra Whack are carrying the 2019 freshman class on their backs.

For a solid decade, Nicki Minaj was the only female rapper to maintain mainstream success.

When Cardi B came stomping onto the scene in her "bloody shoes," Barbz were fighting to keep Nicki's throne. Now, a few years later, female rappers are on the rise—proving there's plenty of room at the top.

XXL Magazine finally dropped their freshman cyphers, and Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, and Tierra Whack are carrying the 2019 freshman class on their backs. Unsurprisingly, none of the women were paired together. If they had been, the rest of the freshman class would have no real competition. Each rapper had their own particular style and flow that, as Tierra Whack phrased it, came "for necks."

Megan Thee Stallion is particularly having a bomb "hot girl summer," creating a movement after dropping one of the most stirring projects of 2019, Fever. The Houston rapper has been on the rise, grounding her lyricism in epic and mega-hit freestyles. Hot Girl Meg is legit.

DaBaby, Megan Thee Stallion, YK Osiris and Lil Mosey's 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher www.youtube.com

Meanwhile, Rico Nasty may fit into the category of a freshman rapper, but she has already released six mix tapes. At 21, she showed a different side of herself on the 2019 cypher. Deft, exhilarating, and biting, Rico Nasty enchanted viewers both familiar and unfamiliar with her work. She bodied the beat, spitting bar after bar.

Blueface, YBN Cordae and Rico Nasty's 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher www.youtube.com

Featured on Beyoncé's The Gift, Tierra Whack brought her imagination to "MY POWER" with her controlled and bewitching delivery. The rapper, who Remy Ma cosigned, got real with fans, rapping, "I used to wanna be lighter, but I still shine being dark." Finally, a dark-skin female rapper is making a name for herself without conforming to the pop-rap precedent set by Nicki and Cardi— the rap game will hopefully never be the same.

Roddy Ricch, Comethazine and Tierra Whack's 2019 XXL Freshman Cypher www.youtube.com

MUSIC

Megan Thee Stallion Slows Down for No One on New Album "Fever"

The Houston rapper's breakout project has been a long time coming, and her technical prowess and powerful charisma make Fever a fun and invigorating showcase of her talent.

Megan Thee Stallion at Rolling Loud Festival

Sage Pacetti

Megan Thee Stallion's rise has been thrilling to watch.

The Houston rapper released three rollicking mixtapes, Rich Ratchet, Make It Hot, and Tina Snow, in the span of three years, gaining notoriety for her prodigious flow and charisma. She's been dropping freestyles all of 2019, spitting gems for the likes of DJ QuinnRaynor and Fire in the Booth. She's cultivated a devoted fanbase who rally to her raunchy bars and assertive performance. And now she's released Fever, her newest project, and it feels like a prophecy has been fulfilled. Fever is meant for shaking the walls of a house party with relentless trap beats and Megan's commanding voice.

It's fun to hear just how much Megan is in control on Fever. It's an admirably functional mixtape, bottling her appeal into a tight forty minutes that showcases the best parts of her Hot Girl Meg persona. She's credited with writing every song on the album, and you can hear that authorship in every rhyme that rolls off her tongue. She's unbothered on "Realer," coolly flexing on "Cash Shit," and ferociously sneering on "W.A.B." Megan mixes her sexual agency and her burgeoning success as proof of her own power, charging up her fearless performance with a natural ease. Her technical prowess fuels that presence, her bars taking flight over the dynamic production, especially on her tracks with producer LilJuMadeDaBeat. There's a disarming and genuine sweetness on the loving "Best You Ever Had" and "Bring Drank," while "Shake That" and "Ratchet" are the standouts on the second half of a track list dominated by bass-heavy club bangers. And Megan still manages to inject moments of wild levity, with priceless Spongebob references on "Running Up Freestyle" and on "Simon Says," as she narrates her and her posse robbing an unsuspecting male. DaBaby and Juicy J do what they can on their features, bringing their own nastiness, but they can't match Megan's raw star power. It's never anything less than her show.

At this point in her still-young career, a project doesn't need to be more than what it is, and Fever is delirious fun. It's Megan making the argument that her style — uncompromisingly hard and arrestingly confident — deserves to take up room in the modern rap landscape. It's the soundtrack to a summer of putting trifling men in their place and conquering the dance floor. "When you hear my fucking name / Know they speaking on a champ," she raps on "Pimpin," punching out space for herself with the force of a speeding train. Megan Thee Stallion's arrival is undeniable. Miss it at your own risk.

Fever