Equipped with elite beats and improved flows, Lil Baby affirms why he’s the current Atlantan bearing the torch for its trap scene.
Lil Baby never intended to become a rapper. But here he is, three years on since being persuaded to hit the booth, as one of the most popular trap rappers. Mentored by none other than Young Thug and securing a Drake feature early on, he formed a formidable partnership with Gunna and kept the mixtapes coming. His debut album Harder Than Ever carried some of his best songs like “Life Goes On”, “Throwing Shade” and “Yes Indeed”. Chart success, cosigns and viral hits are all under the belt; now it is all about being consistent.
The upward trajectory continues on My Turn, standing out as one of the more catchy trap albums of the year so far.
For an avid trap listener, My Turn is consistently memorable, filled with standout beats, flows and melodies. Baby has the most in-form producers at his disposal to thank, namely Tay Keith, ATL Jacob and frequent collaborator Quay Global. The foundation varies from hard-hitting (“Live Off My Closet”), dark (“Forever”) or minimal (“How”) to trendy (“Woah”) and smooth (“Same Thing”). Lil Baby manoeuvres his way through these beats to detail his ascension out the mud, or simply, flexing the fruits of his labour.
Opening song “Get Ugly” presents a terror to the track that sets a serious impression, one that fittingly represents the album name. “Live Off My Closet” is a rapid race to the 3-minute finish line with a twinkling beat reminiscent of Metro Boomin’s work. Baby barely takes a breath before passing the torch to Future. Its cadence is perhaps the most addictive moment of the album.
Baby has taken his songwriting up a notch, sticking to a topic on songs like “Sum 2 Prove” and “Emotionally Scarred”. The usual trap bars are mixed with either a vengeance or bittersweet tales of the rags-to-riches journey. It’s also tracks like these where the melodies of Baby are delivered in their rawest form, much unlike an A Boogie who strains to hit unreachable notes.
Lil Baby’s voice is essentially a stripped-down replica of Young Thug’s. However, Baby compensates for that with capable rapping (“Let lil bro hit the stick, he’d start gettin’ old”, he says on the quotable “Heatin’ Up”). He is a natural when it comes to what pockets to hit, how many words to fit into a bar and what flow to incorporate to compliment the beat. It’s to Baby’s credit where he’s able to achieve this.
Above all, Lil Baby is most comfortable over darker production. The Lil Wayne-assisted “Forever” is reminiscent of Baby’s 2018 mixtape Street Gossip with its choir vocals and knocking bells. The song is like a soundtrack to Doomsday; the only element missing is a 21 Savage feature.
Considering its 20-track length, not every song stands out as a highlight. “Solid”, “Consistent”, “Hurtin” and “Can’t Explain” don’t provide memorability but are enjoyable in their existing form across the hour listen. Unnecessary features turn up on songs like “Grace”, or other moments struggle with a mismatch in production and vocals (“Same Thing”, “Catch the Sun”, “We Should”).
My Turn could do without its heavy closing stages, but still manages to remains surprisingly consistent. Baby’s addictive flows, improved songwriting and beat selection milks the most out of the hour-long listen. Nothing is revolutionised, but My Turn is a trap album that knows the winning formula.
Rating: 7.5 / 10
Best tracks: “Live Off My Closet”, “Forever”, “Emotionally Scarred”, “Forget That”, “Heatin Up”, “Gang Signs”, “Woah”