Friday, October 11th, 2019

DaBaby – Intro

On this day, we are all baby.


Kylo Nocom: “The ‘INTRO’ is an unusual track from DaBaby, as it features hard-hitting lyricism and introspective bars, straying from his typical subject matter.” Well, I can’t verify that, Genius, but with a song as graceful this you’d think he’s been doing this his entire life.

Alfred Soto: After two successive releases in which he boasts about his cruelty, DaBaby tests the limits of his generosity to include his baby girl and the father who died the day his last album exploded. Earlier tracks like “Deal Wit It” suggest these people exist(ed) to serve his muse: a reality with which every artist must deal. The samples of mournful wordless harmonies complement him; he’s watching himself around them. 

Hazel Southwell: Listening to this feels like when everyone told me how good Chance The Rapper was and I took an irrational dislike to the idea of listening to him because I’d heard it too much, until I actually did and realised they were right. Except without the needless oppositionism first. Just pure pleasure to listen to.

Julian Axelrod: DaBaby never breaks character. That’s his whole thing. He’s the latest rapper in a proud lineage of horndog bruiser cartoons, guys who make a career off guest verses and unambitious mixtapes so long as they never flip the script. (Simply put: Everyone loves Ludacris, but no one wants his Mary J. Blige ballad.) So on paper, this song should be a disaster. Even the backstory feels off; platinum records on cruise ships usually don’t lead to introspective bloodletting. But “Intro” works so well because it puts DaBaby’s schtick in a whole new context. His quadruple-time flow sounds like he’s trying to outrun a panic attack. The anger and aggression in his voice feels like a howl into the void. His threats of violence read as desperate grasps for resolution. And that chorus doesn’t knock so much as it soars, a vow of solidarity informed by loss and betrayal and the hope that lies on the other side. It’s a career-solidifying hymn, not a DeParture for DaBaby but a sign of what DaBaby could become. 

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: The obvious antecedent to “Intro” would be “Dreams and Nightmares,” the gold standard for introspective intros from rappers who are loud as all hell. Yet DaBaby’s approach is and has always been different from Meek Mill’s– he’s got a self-aware, trickster-like energy even at his most brazen, like he’s playing the heavy all the time. And so instead of splitting his intro into a quiet part and a loud part, the orchestral come-up crescendooing into hard-as-hell bragadoccio, DaBaby tries to walk through “Intro” at exactly the midpoint of the two. He sounds comfortable– he’s never not sounded comfortable rapping on his record’s– but most of all he sounds ready for more. “Intro” doesn’t work quite as well as “Suge” or “Walker Texas Ranger,” but it works as a sort of trial balloon for a rapper with much more potential than his incredibly effective single style would indicate. It’s the kind of single that leaves you wanting more, and I hope that we get it.

Andy Hutchins: DaBaby’s rise has been marked by his sense of humor, yes, but also by a force-of-nature flow that is as relentless and irrepressible as he is. Here, on a song very likely intended to be for him what a similar intro was for Meek Mill, he machine-guns triplets on two autobiographical verses about the swirl of success and loss that has been his life for the last year-plus (“How the fuck I make it to the top the same day I lost the nigga that had me?”), clearly uninterested in announcing he is holding up or waiting for seconds, much less a minute — but when he does, speaking from the heart about wanting a better life for his kids, it’s sincerely moving. And then there’s the hook, an audacious run in the sun that begins with the instant classic bar “If I love ya, then I NEED YA!” and styles two of his friends (whose first Google result is a Dillard’s registry!) as equal partners in metaphors of black excellence to Martin and Gina and Venus and Serena before a four-bar lecture from on high. This is what triumph in rap sounds like in 2019: Ebullient, and buoyed by aspirations, if conscious of its own fragility.

Will Adams: An intro that reflects, but with caution: the backing vocals harmonize quietly, the bass is anchored to a minor tonic, and DaBaby raps like time is running out. It’s a fitting approach, one that gives weight to his struggles as much as it does his successes.

Reader average: [5.28] (7 votes)

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2 Responses to “DaBaby – Intro”

  1. What’s the rating category one of you came up with of high score + low controversy? This has gotta be up there all-time for that

  2. just found out this samples an a cappella *NSYNC xmas song???