With innate charisma and a natural talent for rapping, it’s hard to believe that Lil Baby was a reluctant hip-hop star. As the latest heavy-hitter out of Quality Control’s hip-hop stable, his rapid ascension looked easy, but was plotted with precision. After first arriving on Atlanta’s rap scene in 2017, he dropped four projects in 11 months. He’s barely slowed down since then.
Lil Baby has lived many lives, and while his time on the streets earned him hard time, he applied the same hustle to his music career. He never had ambitions of becoming a rapper, but after seeing his childhood friend Young Thug become one of the biggest figures on the trap music scene, and following encouragement from Pierre “P” Thomas, co-founder of Quality Control, he decided to put his talents to use.
After a string of successful mixtapes and album releases with Quality Control, Lil Baby polished his skills and came harder each time with tracks that ooze charisma and raw talent. Here, we take a look at the best Lil Baby tracks that have molded the rapper’s career so far.
25: Live Off My Closet (Feat. Future)
Sure, Lil Baby is celebrated for being one of the most introspective rappers in the game, but on “Live Off My Closet,” he teams up with another ATL legend in Future to flex on how far he’s come and how much he’s spending now.
24: Lil Baby & Lil Durk – Still Runnin (Feat. Meek Mill)
Though Lil Baby is more of a radio artist than one who relies on viral moments, “Still Runnin’” became a hit on Voice of the Heroes thanks to its popularity on TikTok. The track trended on the video-sharing app, and by the end of 2021, the song had over 56 thousand videos using the sound.
23: On Me
Lil Baby’s “On Me” was released on December 4, 2020, a day after the MC’s 26th birthday. Armed with a b-side in “Errybody” and an official remix for “On Me” featuring Megan Thee Stallion, the track finds Baby in a celebratory mood, basking in the glow after ascending rap’s highest peaks.
22: Lil Baby & Lil Durk – Rich Off Pain (Feat. Rod Wave)
On “Rich Off Pain,” Baby and Durk recruit Rod Wave for the aptly titled track, which finds each MC diving into their histories. Baby proves why he’s so relatable, rapping, “I take everything I go through and I put it in these songs/ I ain’t gon’ never go against you, please correct me if I’m wrong.”
21: Russian Roulette
Lil Baby ends It’s Almost Me with the triumphant and reflective “Russian Roulette,” which finds the MC moving from triumphant to morose, examining the peaks and valleys of his career and pontificating on where he might go next. Over a somber melody and hi-hat triplets, Baby raps, “Know my grandma happy, finally got my s__t together/ Told bro we’ll take the time and we just stick together/ Every time bro catch a bid, we do that shit together/ I know he got two phones, but I still sent a letter/ ‘Cause I know how that feel.”
20: Life Goes On (featuring Gunna and Lil Uzi Vert)
This Quay Global-produced track is a gleaming selection from Lil Baby’s debut album, 2018’s Harder Than Ever. After making a name for himself in the mixtape game, Lil Baby proved he could pull off a major label studio release. On “Life Goes On,” the trio of MCs flawlessly glide over their respective verses while rapping about women, money, and riches. The song serves as a standout anthem from Harder Than Ever and showcases Lil Baby’s ability to bring a unique melody to his tracks. – Alyson Lewis
19: Heatin Up (Feat. Gunna)
On “Heatin Up,” My Turn’s second song, Lil Baby recruits his frequent collaborator Gunna to help round out the trap epic. The duo immediately showcase their undeniable chemistry, trading bars and mimicking each others’ flow, proving they’re two of the most versatile MCs in the game.
18: Lil Baby & Lil Durk – Voice of the Heroes
“Voice of the Heroes,” the title track from Lil Baby and Lil Durk’s collaborative project shows the themes and styles that unite Atlanta trap and Chicago drill. The title comes from Durk’s childhood nickname of “the Voice” and Baby’s nickname of “the Hero” that Lil Durk had given him. The video was released on the same day that the song was released and takes place at a powerful Black Lives Matter protest that Baby attended in Atlanta.
17: To The Top
“To The Top” is a slower, more sentimental track among the best Lil Baby songs. The rapper discusses adapting to fame while staying motivated, fluctuating between acknowledging his accomplishments while keeping in mind that he’s still got to push harder. Lil Baby expresses the isolation of fame, but knows he’s not only rapping for his future, but for those who depend on him. A highlight of his 2017 mixtape Too Hard, “To The Top” became a prophetic hit, setting the tone for Lil Baby’s imminent rise. – Alyson Lewis
“Heyy” was one of the singles Lil Baby began teasing to promote his new album, It’s Only Me. On the track, Baby showcases a different flow than we’re used to, dancing around the beat like his contemporaries in Detroit, unfurling a torrent of bars that give the audience little time to relax.
15: Real Spill
Fans knew Baby would come correct on It’s Only Me album opener “Real Spill.” His first full-length since 2020’s My Turn marked a cultural event for Atlanta rap specifically and hip-hop more generally. On the track, he picks up right where he left off, continuing his relentless hustle. He raps, “I moved on from slangin’ drugs and pistols, can’t be thinkin’ simple/ Tighten up my circle, someone in the camp been leakin’ info.”
14: Never Needed No Help
Harder than Ever produced a string of hits from Lil Baby. The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2018 and was later certified gold. “Never Needed No Help” is a testament to Lil Baby’s drive and ambition, but also points out that he was already successful before deciding to get into music. Before rapping, Lil Baby kept his head square on his shoulders and focused on getting money to provide a better life for himself and his family. Rapping just happened to be a spontaneous career change that he excelled at. – Alyson Lewis
One theme that runs through many of Lil Baby’s songs is the idea that trauma never fades away, no matter how much money you make. Despite this, Baby continues pushing, even if he’s never able to fully celebrate where he’s at. On “Danger,” he outlines this double-edged sword, rapping, “At it for a decade, had a plug when I was sixteen/ PTSD, I ain’t sleep so I don’t got dreams.”
12: Lil Baby & Lil Durk – Hats Off (Feat. Travis Scott)
Baby and Durk’s Voice of the Heroes standout cut “Hats Off” features superstar Travis Scott. Baby succinctly summarizes his rise as one of rap’s most exciting voices during the end of his verse, spitting, “We had TV, but we didn’t have cable/ Now I’m richer than all of my neighbors.”
11: California Breeze
On It’s Only Me standout “California Breeze,” Lil Baby finds himself a long way from the ATL projects he grew up hustling in. On the song, he basks in the glow of the riches he’s earned, taking cruises along the PCH and taking women out to expensive dinners. His determination and singular mission takes precedence, though: Baby is also busy eliminating people from his life that only want to be around him because of his celebrity status.
10: Drip Too Hard (featuring Gunna)
One of the recurring mantras in Lil Baby songs is sharing success with his crew, and Drip Harder embodies that spirit. A collaboration with fellow Atlanta rapper Gunna, the 2018 album is stacked with back-to-back bangers. This Turbo-produced track brought out the best in both artists, as the two exchanged boasts over thumping 808 bass. “Drip Too Hard” earned both MCs their highest-charting release to date, shooting to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance in 2020. – Alyson Lewis
From his 2018 mixtape Street Gossip, “Global” sees Lil Baby get introspective as he grapples with his sudden fame. He raps about helping his old neighborhood, his friends behind bars, and his family, but insists he isn’t going to stop because they depend on him. The mood is celebratory, but a little somber, too, as Lil Baby recognizes that fame has taken a toll on his mental health. – Alyson Lewis
8: Pure Cocaine
Lil Baby is living his best life, and “Pure Cocaine” is the perfect ode to wealth. The rapper has always prided himself on the fact that he raps about real life and doesn’t dilute his verses with flexes he can’t back up. On “Pure Cocaine,” the Atlanta rapper boasts about not needing to pad his lyrics, expresses gratitude for his new life, and attributes his success to working hard. – Alyson Lewis
7: Emotionally Scarred
Upon the release of My Turn, “Emotionally Scarred” quickly became a fan favorite. Baby bares his soul on the track, utilizing a cleverly placed flute melody and a somber guitar line to give the song its emotional weight. The first verse ends with a line that has quickly become an all-timer in Baby’s discography. He raps, “I ain’t got nothing against you, we human, we all got issues/ But I’m tired of being tired of being tired.”
Take a viral dance trend, throw in some heavy 808s and Lil Baby’s melodic flow, and you have one of the biggest hits of the year. On “Woah,” Lil Baby steps in as his own hype man, flexing his newfound success: “Brand new car is noisy, come through and it’s roarin’/… See me and get nervous, I damn near did it perfect/Work hard and determine, it’s safe to say I earned it, woah,” he raps. With “Woah,” the rapper gave a taste of second album, My Turn, proving the best Lil Baby songs are still on deck. – Alyson Lewis
5: In A Minute
“In A Minute,” which Lil Baby released to huge hype in April of 2022, served as a pre-album teaser to It’s Only Me. The song instantly satiated fans thanks to the dizzying synths and trap-inspired drums of ATL Jacob. Plus, the chorus quickly became an all-time favorite among Baby devotees: “Slide my Rolls-Royce through the hood, that s__t look good like right on/ Get your own salon, your hair done when you want from now on/ Tell the police I don’t do nothin’, I been sellin’ these songs/ Ain’t puttin’ no cap inside my rap, ain’t too much leadin’ you on.”
4: Baby (featuring DaBaby)
Two babies are better than one on this hit collab track from Quality Control: Control The Streets, Vol.2, a fully loaded collection showcasing various QC artists. Lil Baby and DaBaby are no strangers to working together, as “Baby” marks their third collaboration. Their flows complement each other as they go back and forth rapping about their old trap pasts and reveling in their recent success, all while paying tribute to Brian De Palma’s cinematic ode to excess, Scarface, in the music video. – Alyson Lewis
3: Sum 2 Prove
As the third single from My Turn, “Sum 2 Prove” sees Baby question his relationships now that he’s come into fame and fortune. He’s not taking his foot off the gas anytime soon, however, and refuses to be get caught up in petty beef. His confidence in his flow is more apparent here as he raps, “We finally made it, let’s pop us some bottles/I took the lead and then everyone followed/They know I’m runnin’ it right to the bank/They want me to ease up, I didn’t leave ’em any breathin’ room/Sorry, I told ’em, I can’t/I gotta be one of them greats.” – Alyson Lewis
2: The Bigger Picture
Lil Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” is the artist’s most overtly political song to date, inspired by the tragic George Floyd murder. Baby released the track on June 12, 2020, and found the artist galvanizing communities to fight against systemic racism and police brutality. Proceeds from “The Bigger Picture” benefitted The National Association of Black Journalists and other organizations involved in similar causes.
Lil Baby has grown more polished with each release, but it was the hunger and hustle on his early mixtapes that made him a contender. From his Too Hard mixtape, “Freestyle” tops our list of the best Lil Baby songs and defined his style early on in his career. The Joseph DaVinci-produced single is littered with references, name-drops and shout-outs to all the people and places that set Lil Baby on his path. – Alyson Lewis
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