DaBaby’s “Kirk”: Did it live up to the hype?

An old picture featuring rapper Jonathan Lyndale Kirk and his father sitting on the living room is the abum cover for

photo courtesy of Instagram (@DaBaby)

An old picture featuring rapper Jonathan Lyndale Kirk and his father sitting on the living room is the abum cover for "Kirk" by @DaBaby

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Following the release of his first studio album, “Baby on Baby,” and the success of his single “Suge,” the famous Charlotte-born rapper DaBaby releases his second studio album “Kirk.”  With around 150 thousand units sold its first week, the album “Kirk” debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard’s Top 200 two weeks after it’s release. However, did the album live up to the expectations or was it all a marketing strategy to bump the rapper’s streams?

DaBaby, born Jonathan Lyndale Kirk, titled his album after his father’s legal last name because he was impacted by his father’s death. The North Carolina rapper has been featured in numerous songs — Lil Nas X’s “Panini” to Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts”— which gave him a positive reputation in the rap genre. With featured artists like Migos, Gucci Mane, Chance the Rapper, etc., many fans were eager to hear the album. However, during an interview with Nick Cannon at Power 106, DaBaby made a controversial statement by claiming that his album “Kirk” is going to be the “Carter III” of this generation, causing an uproar with loyal Lil Wayne fans. 

The album contains nine songs in total. The album’s opening track starts with “Intro,” which is arguably the best song on the album. The song “Intro” debuted in the Top 10 in hot r&b/ hip-hop song charts. DaBaby recapped his life throughout this song; he rapped about the loss of his father and grandmother and at the same time, his rise to fame. DaBaby made this track as the first promotional single for the album which is unusual because typically rappers don’t make their intro track singles. The song, although containing a sad message, was made enjoyable to listen to due to DaBaby’s immaculate flow throughout the song. The song had bop and rhythm which made it a good introduction to the album and gave a good first impression.

The song “OFF THE RIP” contains DaBaby’s same usual flow and starts off with him rapping as soon as the beat starts which is what DaBaby is known for and is even addressed in his opening line, “Straight off the rip, you know I don’t wait for the drop.” The song is mainly addressing everyone who wasn’t with him during his rising fame and the people who want to be with him because of it. The song itself wasn’t catchy or memorable; compared to “Intro,” this song was “meh.” The following song “BOP” is mainly about him being rich and famous but still in touch with his roots. It’s better than “OFF THE RIP” but still not very memorable; it is just an average song. Number four on the album, “VIBEZ” is about the vibes he and his crew bring wherever they are. The three songs sounded pretty similar, but they all have different messages which are correlated to their song titles. Compared to “Intro,” these songs were underwhelming.

Number five on the album “POP STAR (feat. Kevin Gates)” is the first track with a feature. It’s above average compared to previous songs on the album but still not as good as “Intro.” What separates this song from the rest of the album was Kevin Gates’s verse. His verse uplifted the song and made the song overall more interesting and enjoyable. The following song “GOSPEL” features YK Osiris, Chance the Rapper, and Gucci Mane. Initially, I had the impression that so many features won’t work, however, considering that DaBaby worked and featured with all these artists, I was hopeful. The song managed to balance the verses between the four artists: YK Osiris’s singing, Chance’s preaching rap style, and Gucci Mane’s outro made an enjoyable memorable highlight to the album. Considering that the song was a tribute to DaBaby’s father, it makes sense that the song is named “GOSPEL.”

The following track “IPHONE” featuring Nicki Minaj, became my top 3 picks from the album. Nicki Minaj’s appearance surprised many people because it was the second song she was featured in after her supposed “retirement.” Nicki Minaj and DaBaby’s flow complimented the song’s beat and rhythm which was another highlight to the album. The song was more alive and catchy compared to the rest of the album. After listening to the whole album, “Intro,” “Gospel,”  and “iPhone” were the best overall songs on the album “Kirk.”

DaBaby certainly delivered a good album but his “Carter III” impact claim made his album an underwhelming experience. In my opinion, if the rapper were to take a more diverse approach on his songs and provide the same quality as “Intro,” the album quality could’ve improved. The album sounded rushed, the songs were short, and some songs such as “PROLLY HEARD” and “THERE HE GO” just sounded too vague and similar. 

The quality of the album was mediocre, so it’s no surprise that the album’s number one spot on Billboard’s Top 200 chart was short-lived. With that in mind, I came to the conclusion that DaBaby’s claim was a marketing strategy to bump his album sales by encouraging Lil’ Wayne fans to listen to the album. Features such as Nicki Minaj, Migos, and Lil’ Baby also provided relevancy to the album by influencing their fans to listen to the songs they were featured on. On the other hand, the rapper is still young and still has the potential to create a better album; considering that “Kirk” is only his second studio album, with a bit more experience, DaBaby could be destined for greatness.