In 2017, rapper DaBaby showed up to Austin’s South by Southwest festival wearing nothing but a diaper and sneakers—a gimmick, sure, but one that helped him go viral. Of course, that was the point: Since picking up the microphone in 2014, the Charlotte rapper (born Jonathan Lyndale Kirk in 1991) has demonstrated a keen awareness of how to cultivate presence in the internet era, coupling his bounciest tracks (“Suge,” “Walker Texas Ranger,” “Goin Baby,” “Baby Sitter”) with outrageous videos, crafting a persona by turns rude, violent, goofy, and dead serious. (His energy—he often sounds like he literally can’t wait to get on a track—can be so charismatic and infectious that you forget he’s rapping about how he’s prepared to mow down everyone in his way.) After a string of mixtapes, including eight released in 2017 and 2018 alone, he signed with Interscope in early 2019, releasing his first studio album, Baby on Baby, within a few months.
BORNDecember 21, 1991