At this point, it’s pretty evident that Dababy is the hottest rapper of 2019. Baby on Baby started the year off hot for him, getting the attention of pretty much every rap fan with his steady, hard cadence and singable choruses. What’s more impressive to me is that this man had five projects on streaming and a ton more unofficial mixtapes, yet didn’t blow up until “21” got radio plays. I first learned about Dababy from a bunch of French basketball players in Paris. Little did I know at the time that this seemingly small Charlotte rapper would be featured on nearly everything in 2019 and put out two killer albums. With that said, let’s dive into KIRK, the second studio album and the fifteenth project to date for Baby Jesus.
Everyone jokes about Dababy rapping before the beat even starts, but Jesus Christ, I couldn’t even get my notes organized before he started rapping on “INTRO“. He literally does that on every track. Regardless, “INTRO” is the smoothest track Dababy has released yet. When it dropped as a single, I was hyped because I was ready for this somewhat introspective album about his quick jump from regional legend to rap’s hard-hitting new star. And then it wasn’t that at all. It’s the same cadences, the same lackluster lyrics, and exact same vibes. I am all for consistency but Dababy should be trying to prove his talent and diversity, not doing the exact same thing as before.
His voice is incredibly unique and you really can’t help but be attracted to it. The raspiness mixed with the gruff sound of hunger and desire for bigger and better makes him fun to listen to. This helps save the album for me. While he always keeps the same cadence patterns, he never loses that aggressive, yet exciting sound to his voice. Sure the writing is pretty boring, because he literally doesn’t write, but the voice holds you.
You also can’t talk about the vocals without mentioning the feature list here. He got some of the best Chance and Gucci features this year, plus he had Nikki, YK Osiris, Kevin Gates, Stunna 4 Vegas, Lil Baby, Moneybagg Yo, and the Migos. “GOSPEL” is a great example of a song that used the features perfectly. It’s catchy, different, and sound “like some of that ghetto gospel shit”. It’s just plain fun.
Dababy got JetsonMade to make quite a few of the beats on this project, or at least help out a lot, and he kills it. “BOP” is a straight bop from the beat alone. The piano melody feels ever so slightly off but before you even question it, you get hit by some very solid drums that carry you away with the song. Every producer used on this project really killed it with the beats. Kenny Beats especially showed off his talents on “TOES” (if you have seen his show The Cave on YouTube…check it out).
However, regardless of what the individual producers do, the sound that is cultivated by Dababy’s team is intriguing. No matter how hard I try to place Dababy’s music and style, I can’t. Is it Atlanta trap? Sure it has its inspirations but it sounds nothing like a Gucci Mane, Future, or Young Thug album. Does he give off that East Coast/NYC Underground vibe? Not really at all. He has the gruffness of Flatbush but is nowhere near lyrical enough to be from Brooklyn. Well, maybe it’s just hard Southern rap? Yes and no. I truly believe that Dababy and his team have built there own sound, something that takes inspirations from the rap markets around North Carolina without becoming them.
This album is fucking fast! Seriously don’t blink or you will already be onto the next track without realizing it. Transitions really don’t exist on KIRK, instead Dababy stops rapping for four seconds then starts again. Look, I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here but the memes don’t lie. Baby On Baby had a much better flow and rhythm to it. KIRK just feels sloppy. The idea of breaking up the fast-paced flow with a slow song, skit, or vocal sample was clearly an afterthought. The track order isn’t bad but as I said, the flow of the album is almost too fast that track order doesn’t really even matter.
“INTRO”, “BOP”, “POPSTAR”, and “GOSPEL”
There is no denying that Dababy is one of the hottest rappers of 2019. That’s nearly undeniable at this point. You can’t even make the argument anymore that Lil Nas X has garnered more success. While the Cowboy Rapper had “Old Town Road” staying at #1, Dababy was getting featured on everything plus having a “debut” album that was seemingly impossible to put down. He didn’t need to drop another project and if he did, it had to be something different and something good. This was not that, unfortunately. KIRK gets a…
This doesn’t mean that he sucks. I really like Dababy and seriously have to consider Baby On Baby in my AOTY list. This project definitely had its bangers but it just wasn’t enough for me. I hope with the next project, he proves to us why he made it out of the Charlotte underground scene.