On October 14, Lil Baby dropped his new album, “It’s Only Me,” where he grapples with honesty in his own experiences.
Baby grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, with a single mom who experienced financial instability. As a teen he was encouraged to rap and because he joined the industry at such a young age, he earned the name Lil Baby. At the start of his career, he didn’t believe he could make a career out of rapping, and instead sold drugs to help his mom make ends meet.
His long-awaited album, “It’s Only Me,” features Young Thug and Future, among many other acclaimed rappers. The album cover is a recreation of Mount Rushmore with Baby’s face carved into the stone at different stages throughout his life. By doing this, Baby places himself on the same level of significance as the essential American figures that were originally displayed on the monument. As he said in a recent Instagram post, “I want to be the best. What else?”
Baby has worked hard to get where he is now, yet he emphasizes that his ambitious path hasn’t been easy. “I can’t show no feelings” is an opening line on the album, indicative of how men, especially in the rapping community, are expected to suppress their emotions. Many popular songs utilize insincere lyrics or situations, defined by toxic masculinity tropes which include avoiding authentic experiences and emotions.
On the last song on the album, “Russian Roulette,” Lil Baby raps about the recent passing of his best friend and fellow rapper, Lil Marlo. He raps, “I really cried when Marlo died, I felt it all in my stomach,” showing vulnerability through his art and defying the norm of toxic masculinity. This is one lyric, of one song, in one album. These are small steps to expressing more emotions, including grief, which should be acknowledged by male rappers. Later in the song he says, “Don’t compare me to no other rapper, I feel like my shit real,” exhibiting how he isn’t “fake” like other artists in the industry. Rather, his true experiences drive the narrative of the album.
Simultaneously, in almost every song on the album, he raps about hooking up with women. This is a common theme in the genre, especially in a derogatory manner. Lil Baby reinforces these ideas throughout his album, an example of which can be seen in the song “Heyy.” He raps, “Better go hard, girl, this yo tryouts,” showing this girl is one of many, objectifying her based on sexual capabilities rather than valuing her other attributes.
The beats on the album have a solid flow, unique from song to song and the lyrics roll nicely. However, the album consists of 23 songs, shaping up to be a run time of an hour and five minutes, which is decently longer than the average studio work. There is little variation in vocal range and the monotonous tone of Baby’s voice is consistent, making it somewhat dull to listen to the album all the way though. Although the overall experience may be a tad bit repetitive, there were a few standout songs. The first track on the album, “Real Spill,” has an intriguing and unique beat drop and another later song, “Not Finished”, is a great hype soundtrack for any party or get together with friends.
Lyrically, Lil Baby does contribute to common misogynistic themes in rap, but also digs deeper into some very personal aspects of his life. Throughout the album, Baby reflects his growth as an artist and the events that have shaped him to be who he is today.