Artist Spotlight is a series whose basic aim is to highlight promising and interesting up-and-coming recording artists. From relative newcomers to underrated veterans, from mainstream to underground, we simply want to shine a light on talented musicians that are making great music.
DaBaby (born Jonathan Kirk)
27-year-old North Carolina native Jonathan Kirk, aka DaBaby, is definitively one of the most exciting new rappers right now. Born in Cleveland, OH, Kirk has lived in Charlotte since when he was 6 years old. Much of his early exposure to hip-hop came by way of his two older brothers, who put him onto early-2000s stars like Eminem, 50 Cent, and Lil Wayne.
Despite his increased profile in recent months, Kirk’s music career actually began in 2014, under then-moniker Baby Jesus, and he released his first mixtape in 2015. He rebranded in 2016 under the name DaBaby, and has since delivered a steady flow of mixtapes and visuals that have garnered millions and millions of views.
In January of this year, DaBaby signed to Interscope Records in a joint venture with his independent label South Coast Music Group. On March 1st, he released his Interscope debut album Baby on Baby.
Why You Should Know Him:
Because, like I said earlier, he’s one of the most exciting new rappers. DaBaby is a shot of creativity and charisma amongst a generation of artists that is so incredibly saturated that those attributes don’t always end up rising to the top.
Kirk is talented and entertaining; he checks many of the boxes — voice, microphone presence, flow, lyrics, etc. — that most of us look for in great emcees; and he’s willing to be himself instead of a crowd-pleaser — even if that means walking around in a diaper at SXSW.
And on that topic, he also as an incredible sense of humor, too. And not like the annoying, Lil Dicky-ass “comedy rap” type humor; I’m referring more to his knack for clever, witty lyrics and the sheer outlandishness that manifests itself in some of his visuals, which harken back to the eccentric work of artists like Missy Elliott and Ludacris.
Indeed, DaBaby is an interesting new face in hip-hop that’s definitely worth following right now.
3 Songs to Get You Started:
“Walker Texas Ranger”