Is Lil Baby the modern-day Weezy?
Lil Baby’s on fire right now, there’s no other way to put it. There hasn’t been a rapper casually throwing verses around like this since Weezy in his prime.
Dropping My Turn as a 26-song deluxe as his sophomore studio album was the epitome of a two-year run that’s seen him appear on songs alongside Weezy, Travis Scott, Rick Ross, Drake, Post Malone, Young Thug, Future, Lil Uzi and Chris Brown. Not to mention the less famous rappers Baby makes himself available to, such as Rhythm and Flow contestant Ali Tomineek or Brockton rapper Dtheflyest.
Weezy showed a similar tendency to lend his verses out to whoever asked when he lent a feature to a then-relatively nameless Jay Rock and Kendrick for “All My Life” while he was getting his personal collection of unlimited verses out through mixtapes in the prime of Datpiff and Spinrilla.
Much like Lil Wayne in the mid 2000s and for much of the 2010s, right now Lil Baby is everywhere. Every new album drop seems to have at least a verse from the 4PF artist, and just in the last week he’s dropped “The Bigger Picture” and a new feature on YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s “One Shot.”
The most impressive part of Baby’s recent run and where the real comparison comes to Weezy is in the style and energy of the verses themselves; from 0:01 on a track to finish, they rap their asses off. Think even “6 foot 7 foot” Wayne or “A Milli” and the similarities are clear; no rapper putting out this quantity of work has done so in the bar-packed, tireless way that Baby is, since Wayne.
Lonzo Ball caught some heat for making the same comparison, because he failed to make an important distinction; Lil Wayne is undoubtedly one of the greatest rappers ever and this comparison is not whatsoever trying to elevate Baby and his discography to the same level. But they play similar roles and share a lot of core tendencies as rappers beyond what’s on the surface of the sound.
The LeBron-dubbed MVP of rap, Lil Baby is the most visible face in rap music right now after having his album return to the #1 spot on Billboard, 4 months after its debut, and also hitting the #1 Artist spot on Billboard in 2020. The Atlanta rapper has 47 career Hot 100 hits, as much as both Prince and Paul McCartney.
Wayne is third all time on the Hot 100 with 167 total entries, but at the same point in his career as Baby, he had just two.
There hasn’t been a rapper as hard in content, style or image as Lil Baby to have that much commercial success since Wayne and it’s only his sophomore album. My Turn sold 197,000 it’s first week compared to Weezy’s 116,000 for his sophomore album Lights Out.
Of course, numbers are harder to judge in the streaming age and Lil Baby is nowhere near the prestige as an artist Weezy has earned through a 24-year career, but that doesn’t make a comparison off-base.
Rap hasn’t had a superstar in the gangster rapper image of Baby with the never-failing tendency to rap his ass off and this level of commercial success since Wayne - it just hasn’t happened.
Lets not forget to mention this run has been in the middle of Baby’s on and off feud with his label, carrying Quality Control on his back while being exploited as the face of their brand… sound familiar?
In a pre-Drake world, Wayne was YMCMB Records. And Lil Baby is Quality Control.
Both of their runs were fueled by the two being forced into carrying their labels and they both delivered, getting music out however possible in response. For Wayne it was mixtapes, and for Baby it’s features.
Weezy himself has said multiple times this year that Lil Baby is his favorite rapper, pointing to his work ethic in the studio.
After spending time together working on Funeral and My Turn, Weezy pointed to an instance where he played an uptempo beat and Baby said he could never rap on something like that. By the end of the studio session, Baby had completed 3 whole songs of the same sound.
If you we’re listening to Lil Wayne early in his career as a member of the Hot Boys, you would never think he’d be able to take his sound to where it is on Funeral, and he probably wouldn’t have either. Baby’s growth from his first mixtape to My Turn is the same type of evolution.
Weezy is one of the greatest rappers ever and one of the biggest stars the genre's ever seen. Lil Baby's wordplay, versatility, and influence don't hold up well in comparison because of the pedastal the NOLA rapper is deservedly put on.
But to allow Wayne's overall greatness to detract from his obvious influence on the genre's stars of today is doing him wrong.
Lil Baby hasn't founded Drake and Nicki Minaj, or released the Carter III, but his stardom as a street rapper who spits from start to finish with his full energy and attention is reminiscient of Wayne in terms of persona within rap.
Seeing as there’s evidence of growth that took years for Wayne to achieve, though he started his career much earlier, there’s a lot to be excited about Lil Baby for. After just four years rapping at all, if the argument can be made at all that he plays the modern-day equivalent to what Weezy was in the mid 2000s, we can expect to see and hear a lot of the Atlanta rapper in the coming decade.