Lil Baby’s return shows marginal improvement. While his previous effort on My Turn felt like the victory lap, this feels like a look down from the top. Comfortable in his position, Lil Baby continues to recount his stories over rarely varied production.
Issues with the album clearly land on the production side, as even in the moments leading up to this album saw Lil Baby on countless notable features. He’s been consistently a feature killer of sorts, not only giving the high profile cosign of being a feature, but stealing the show every time. Its an ability only few can claim, up their with now-veteran rappers like Drake & Future. For them it took about a decade, but for Lil Baby, he achieved that in half the time.
His single “Heyy” suggested this album would basically be a part two to his debut album, where his ability to rap is undeniable but the beat boringly trugs along. Multiple times this happens throughout the album, even utilizing popular samples such as the “Pound Cake” sample on “In A Minute.” It does work to have these tracks used sparingly, but in a tracklist that spans over an hour, their presence is felt.
Lil Baby – Heyy
The occasional moments of experimentation feel poorly executed as well. “Pop Out” starts out with a great performance from Lil Baby, until it clumsily stumbles into a leftover track from Nardo Wick’s album. “Stop Playin” with Jeremih feels like a track that would’ve been a smash under the pop star power of someone like Drake, but here the duty split between the two of them gives a feeling of detachment rather than personability.
This isn’t to completely dismiss every beat however, as there are a handful of highlights. “Waterfall Flow” adds these quick flashes of synths that weave in & out of the beat, giving the track true dimension. The track “Everything” also sees him pivot from the Atlanta trap sound more towards the Detroit trap sound, as it employs that hectic drum pattern & sudden key change that seen throughout that genre.
Lil Baby – Waterfall Flow
Even though the beats are what drives the tracks, Lil Baby’s performances are relentless as ever. “Stand On It” has him cramming his views on his on personal success into every line. It may be toward the back-end of the tracklist, “No Fly Zone” is an immediate highlight that sees him trying to lift the people around him through his music.
Coincidentally, this album is an interesting look in comparison the G Herbo’s album that released a week apart. Both albums span an over twenty-some track list, both are over an hour of runtime, both recall their stories of coming from the bottom, both see each other with impassioned verses from beginning to end. However, Herbo’s album comes off as wildly more entertaining. Herbo’s album sees a massive range of production, using classic Chicago samples, Atlanta trap beats, Chicago drill beats, obscure NY beats, just to name a few. None of these moments feel forced either, all flowing together naturally. Yet Lil Baby’s album doesn’t deliver on this front.
Baby’s album doesn’t flow like an album, more something for the generation of playlist-saving listeners. Multiple highlights throughout, but backed together with each other gives the feeling of exhaustion. There’s a reason Baby is at the level he is at, the relatability of success in his lyrics & general charisma are all there. However, his production choices & overly bloated tracklists are holding him back from dropping that modern classic that he should have by now. The only hope here is that it doesn’t take too long for another follow-up to see his next level.