Lil Baby Establishes the Reasons Behind His Popularity with "It's Only Me"
The Atlanta Hip-Hop scene has continued to display its influence throughout the genre, skyrocketing Hip-Hop to arguably the most popular genre in the United States. One of the frontrunners of this success, Lil Baby, realized his potential after the 2020 release of his sophomore album, My Turn. The project ended up as his most successful, being recognized as the highest-selling album across the U.S. in 2020. Since then, Lil Baby fully capitalized on his momentum in 2021, providing his infectious raps to the albums of Ye, for which he won a Grammy, Drake, and more. 2021 did not stop there for the superstar as he released a collaboration album with Chicago artist Lil Durk, which went number on the Billboard 200 album chart.
Lil Baby is back and is here to leave an impression once again. His third album, It's Only Me, is a lengthy LP. The tracklist includes 23 songs totaling a 65-minute runtime. The title, It's Only Me, is somewhat a disservice to the project that has features from the likes of Future, Young Thug, EST Gee, Jeremih, and more. It's Only Me provides a peek into the inter-makings of Lil Baby over powerful beats, signature flows and compelling lyrics.
The project was originally teased by two completely incompatible singles released throughout the year. The first single, "In a Minute" is Lil Baby at his most comfortable. With a remarkable beat thanks to the sample of Ellie Goulding's "Don't Say A Word," Lil Baby delivers a relaxed, power-punching tune. Regrettably, he did not decide to stay in this avenue, and that was evident by the release of the generic and unmemorable "Heyy."
From start to finish, the direction of It's Only Me is unclear. The intro, "Real Spill" is a somber story-driven ballad layered above a blistering sample from Sade in which he describes his humble beginnings and current mindset. For the following three songs, he focuses on delivering hype anthems suitable for clubs and radio. Delightedly, his messages and lyrical content on this album showcase his evident growth. There is more content about his battles with fame, himself, and others rather than content about violence, sex and drugs. He retreats to a storytelling direction with the melodic "California Breeze" and "Perfect Timing" and the substance filled "Forever." Even though the better moments of It's Only Me are sorrowful melodies, the peak moment of this album is "Never Hating" featuring Atlanta rapper Young Thug. Both artists are at their finest because of their amazing chemistry between themselves and an impactful trap instrumental they melt seamlessly into.
Although the vast majority of songs on this album include characteristics that formulate the majority of Lil Baby's hit songs, that's the problem in itself. It's Only Me lacks any type of new sound from Lil Baby sonically. Following the song "From Now On" featuring a potent verse from fellow Atlanta collaborator Future, the album regrettably restarts in terms of sound and production for another draining 10 songs with forgettable songs like "Danger," "Top Priority" and "No Fly Zone." Listening to this album sequentially provides little to no benefit to the listener, as a result of the repetitiveness of his voice, cadence and delivery. Thankfully, Lil Baby is exemplary in these categories, so using the same sound helps him more than it hinders the project.
Nonetheless, It's Only Me is what most can expect, a trap album etched with Lil Baby's signature sound. On this record, Lil Baby showcases the reason why he has garnered so much attention since his uprising. The accessibility and consumption that his music presents to his core audience, and outsiders who are interested in the unique sounds of Atlanta Hip-Hop is what makes this album work. Similar to all of his projects, the highlights of this album are positioned to be remembered within his catalog, while everything else will be lost in the shuffle.