DaBaby, also known as Jonathan Kirk, broke out hard in the mainstream in 2019 with his debut studio album, Baby on Baby, which reached number seven on Billboard 200 and he hasn’t stopped cranking out hits since.
With his brutal and staccato rap style, DaBaby kept hustling and released another studio album, Kirk, the same year which debuted at number one on the charts. Both albums produced the Billboard Hot 100 hit singles “Suge“, “Intro“, and “Bop” which showed his ability to be a chart-topper with both his freshmen and sophomore studio albums.
DaBaby’s third studio album, Blame It on Baby (2020), was his second consecutive number-one album in the US. Blame It on Baby (2020) also produced DaBaby’s highest-charting song, “Rockstar ” featuring Roddy Ricch, which would spend seven straight weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Rise to Fame
Born Jonathan Lyndale Kirk on December 22, 1991, in Cleveland, Ohio, DaBaby would eventually move to Charlotte, North Carolina where he spent much of his formative years immersed in the southern rap culture. Kirk attended Vance High School where he graduated in 2010 and also the University of North Carolina at Greensboro for two years. During this time, he would listen to Eminem, 50 Cent, and Lil Wayne and would use these influences to craft his own unique flow that sets him apart from other artists in the hip-hop game.
Initially performing under the name Baby Jesus, Kirk later took on the name DaBaby and has performed under that moniker since. From 2014 – 2018, DaBaby started releasing his mixtapes with Nonfiction being his debut. From there, he released his other mixtapes God’s Work, Baby Talk,, Billion Dollar Baby, and Back on My Baby Jesus Shit.
DaBaby got his big break when he was spotted by Arnold Taylor, the president of South Coast Music Group, performing in North Carolina clubs when Taylor was just launching the label. Taylor, seeing star power potential, signed DaBaby to the label and began working on launching his career. DaBaby was then under the management of Taylor, who is known for being responsible for the rise of Southern rap and jumpstarting the career of Yo Gotti and Future.
From there, Taylor and his label created a buzz around Da Baby’s sound and people began to take notice of his brutal freestyle flow. DaBaby then signed a deal with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation for his breakout break tape, Blank Blank, in late 2018. Because of his association with Roc Nation, DaBaby was able to sign a seven-figure recording deal with Interscope while still staying on with South Coast Music.
Career and Albums
After signing with Interscope records, DaBaby took an entrepreneur turn with his career and began his own imprint label, Billion Dollar Entertainment, while releasing his debut studio album Baby on Baby in 2019.
Baby on Baby is Dababy’s freshmen album and the thirteen track album features other rap superstars such as Offset, Rich Homie Quan, Rich the Kid, and other heavyweights in the rap game. When Baby on Baby made it landed on the number 25 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart. This was mostly due to DaBaby’s tracks like “Suge”, which was a shoutout to infamous Death Row Reaches co-founder and CEO, Suge Knight. This track debuted at number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100 in April 2019 and later in June of that year, broke the Top 10.
Later the same year, DaBaby released his sophomore album, Kirk, as it is a reference to DaBaby’s last name. The album dropped on September 27 and landed at the top of the Billboard 200 due to the success of the single “Intro”, which peaked at number 13 on the Billboard 100. Around the same time, DaBaby was also working with other hip-hop artists and was even featured on Post Malone’s track “Enemies”, which was another smash hit in the books for DaBaby as it landed on the number 16 spot on the Billboard 100.
DaBaby also co-collaborated on remixed hits for other artists such as Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”, YG’s “Stop Snitching” and Lil Nax X’s “Panini”, which were all hits. DaBaby also started to show up in YouTube videos by making guest appearances on Rich Dunk’s Youtube video for his single “High School”.
By the end of 2019, DaBaby made it clear he was staying hot on the charts by having 22 entries on the Billboard Hot 100, the most any artist has on the charts for that year.
Baby on Baby
The world was introduced to DaBaby’s wide-smiling force of nature with his freshmen album, Baby on Baby. Debuting on March 1st, 2019, the album projected the 27-year-old rapper into the hip-hop stratosphere with its high stakes energy and trap homage. With hits such as Baby Sitter and featuring rap veterans like Offset, the debut album was a smash hit with its wildly charismatic charm that seamlessly blended humor (Walker Texas Ranger) and morose (Celebrate) tracks effortlessly and thus Baby on Baby solidified DaBaby as a rap culture icon. In addition to chart-topping, the music video for Suge (Yea Yea) currently has 253 million views on YouTube.
An homage to his last name, Kirk was DaBaby’s second album that was released only 5 months after Baby on Baby. For this album, DaBaby was still using his relentless freestyle momentum to not only maintain the palpable energy from his first album but also added some deep and personal introspection with tracks such as Intro. DaBaby elated fans by bringing more of the same with Kirk while also adding some depth that proves he can tackle any subject matter with his mastery of lyrical speed and cleverness. DaBaby solidified himself as a YouTube darling by having his music video debut for BOP reach 278 million views.
Blame It on Baby
The third and most recent album (minus the deluxe version released in August 2020) is Blame It on Baby, which dropped April 17th, 2020. His most self-aware album and a response to the call of those who questioned his longevity, Blame It on Baby has DaBaby look inward and is considered an ode to her personal journey through his career so far, especially after his rise to fame. Although the same zaniness of his last two albums is present, Blame It on Baby takes a more serious path with DaBaby proving his naysayers that he’s in it for the long haul.
DaBaby is not only known for his trap beat and precise style of rapping but also for the playful energy he not only brings to his music productions but his music videos as well. Like his famous predecessors before him such as Busta Rhymes, Eminem, and Kayne West, DaBaby also incorporates humor and parody into his body of work. For music videos like Bop on Broadway, DaBaby cuts his harsh guttural rap style with fun components such as high energy street dancing and even featuring the famous hip-hop dance troupe, Jabbawockeez to add hype.
For his feature in Rich Dunk’s “High School”, DaBaby again shows off his comedic side even when he isn’t front and center, spitting his flow. DaBaby is hilarious as the stereotypical high school nerd/loser (and definitely having fun with it) trope played against Rich Dunk’s hard-hitting, bully antagonist. This proves DaBaby is star-worthy even without using his rap skills and proves that he can be featured as a comedic element to elevate other artist’s music videos with just his presence alone.
In 2020, DaBaby received two nominations for “Suge” for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song categories at the 62nd Grammy Awards. In April 2020, he announced on Twitter the release of his third studio album, Blame It on Baby. It was received favorably by most critics and achieved commercial success by debuting atop the Billboard 200 with 124,000 album-equivalent units, becoming DaBaby’s second number-one album. Blame It on Baby also produced DaBaby’s highest-charting song, “Rockstar“, featuring Roddy Ricch which not only had major success in the states but also reached number one in the United Kingdom.
In June 2020, DaBaby was featured on the remix for the Jack Harlow‘s song, “Whats Poppin“, which peaked at number two on the Hot 100 while “Rockstar” was still at the top. This made DaBaby the 20th act to occupy the chart’s top 2 positions, and he was the first artist to do so since Ariana Grande in 2019. In July, DaBaby was featured on the track “For the Night” by Pop Smoke and Lil Baby, which debuted at number six on the Hot 100. As a result, DaBaby became the seventh act to chart at least three songs in the top six simultaneously
On July 27, 2020, DaBaby released a new single with his Billion Dollar Entertainment talent, Stunna 4 Vegas, “No Dribble”. This was included on the deluxe edition of Blame It on Baby, which was released on August 4, 2020, and has since been described as a “brand new album” by DaBaby himself.
DaBaby’s influence has also extended to the likes of social media where millions on the app TikTok are doing the “DaBaby – ROCKSTAR Challenge” where users recreate and film themselves reenacting the famous dance moves from the Rockstar music video. This challenge is not new to social media as other rappers have had their own dance challenges explode in popularity on the app. As of August 2020, the ROCKSTAR – Challenge hashtag is mentioned in over 3.6 million TikTok videos and is steadily growing in popularity. This is due to its fun upbeat tempo mixed with easy to learn dance moves that make it a hit for all TikTokers looking to get on the next new dance challenge.
In addition to his popularity on social media, Dababy is also recognized for his expert freestyle and clever wordplay that has attracted the likes of T.I. to take notice and give him a shoutout on his Instagram. DaBaby has been featured on many on-air interviews where he shows off his ability to master quick-wit and smooth flow delivery.
DaBaby has also made claims that getting into music was a way for him to help people. After having past run-ins with the law, he decided he wanted to move forward in a positive direction. He said after coming up in the rap scene in 2014, he wanted to use his music as a way to help others who also came from a similar background and hoped he could inspire others to be successful in their own right. He has also said that it has always been in his nature to encourage and inspire others.
Paired with his rapid social media popularity, deep-voiced clever freestyle, his affinity for humor, and his passion to inspire others, it’s certain DaBaby’s influence is going to be wide-reaching and deeply rooted for years to come.
On August 3rd, 2020 DaBaby dropped the deluxe edition of BLAME IT ON BABY that featured 13 new tracks and featured powerhouse performer collaborations with Future, Megan Thee Stallion Ouavo, Roddy Rich and many, many more. The success of this album drop put DaBaby back on the top of the Billboard 200. Tracks on the deluxe edition included Peep Hole, the BLM remix ROCKSTAR, Blind (ft. Young Thug), and TLC (ft. Gunna). As of August 2020, BLAME IT ON BABY DELUXE has 923,173,420 all-time streams and 45,742,611 monthly listeners on Spotify.
DaBaby is scheduled to appear at the 2020 VMAs on August 30th where he will share his performance on stage with the Black Eyed Peas. He is currently nominated for four awards including Artist of the Year, Cinematography for My Oh My, Hip Hop Video for BOP, Choreography for BOP, and Song of the Summer for Suge.
DaBaby will also be making history for his performance at the 2020 VMAs as this will be the first year the ceremony will be held via social distancing. DaBaby will be joining the ranks of Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and others as they hold their televised performance outdoors with limited or no audience members. However, since DaBaby has proven to be an electric and highly entertaining performer, we’re certain he can bring down the house no matter where his performance is held.