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LIL BABY: HEIR
TO THE THRONE

In just two years, Quality Control/Motown/Capitol prodigy Lil Baby has emerged as hip-hop’s next superstar. While he’s dominated streaming in 2020, his path to hip-hop’s throne leaves the 25-year-old rapper in a lane of his own. With My Turn headed for a return to #1, the difference between Lil Baby and the competition is that he’s topping the chart in his 15th week and has built his career off streams, strategy, volume and consistency.

One buzzword used to describe the paths of many rising acts these days bears no association to Lil Baby is “viral.” Instead, he’s earned his reputation as the strongest young MC since dropping both his debut album, Harder Than Ever, and mixtape, Drip Harder with Gunna, in 2018. The latter spawned “Drip Too Hard,” which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Performance in 2020 and has become one of the biggest streaming smashes of the last two years; it’s now 7x platinum and remains inside Spotify’s daily Top 100.

My Turn debuted at #1 in early March and has fallen out of the Top 5 just once in the 14 weeks it’s been on the album chart. Lil Baby’s sophomore LP now ranks #4 on our YTD Overall Activity chart, where the album leads in video-on-demand streams for the year. With the rollout of the Deluxe version of My Turn in May, Team Baby—including QC’s Coach K and P and Motown’s Ethiopia Habtemariam—leaned into the visual voraciousness of his audience, dropping nine new videos, along with six new tracks. He’s owned the Top 10 at Apple Music’s video chart ever since.

The album has now generated over 2 billion streams, is approaching 1.3m in total activity and appears to be holding on even stronger than recent projects from Drake, Future and The Weeknd. Early single “Woah” is now 2x platinum, with second single “Sum 2 Prove” platinum and four other tracks already punching out gold certifications. As My Turn nears a second stay at #1, Deluxe cut “We Paid” f/42 Dugg has hit a new peak of #2 this week at Apple Music.

As is the case with most hip-hop artists these days, the more content Baby delivers, the more his base consumes. But with pure sales only counting for 4% of My Turn’s total activity and VOD streams over 400m, Lil Baby’s fans are connecting on an entirely different level.

On top of all that, the new Best New Artist Grammy rules appear to play right into the ascent of this upwardly mobile rapper, who dropped his first mixtape, Perfect Timing, in 2017, and released his debut album, Harder Than Ever, a year later.

MAYBE, JUST MAYBE:
MOBILE PHONES,
IMMOBILE HUMANS
Lenny Beer needs to cut down on his screen time. (10/1a)
RAINMAKERS: MICHAEL RAPINO, NATION BUILDER
A tease for the upcoming edition, eh? (10/1a)
THE DEATH OF PRINT JOURNALISM: GRAMMY PREVIEW EDITION
Gimme an "H." Gimme another "H." (9/30a)
NEAR TRUTHS: PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP—INTO YOUR LIFE
IT WILL CREEP*
A high-revving column (10/1a)
YOUR TOP 20 IS
FULLY LOADED
Prediction: There will be 20 albums in the Top 20 this week. (10/1a)
GRAMMY TALK
We're full of it.
AFRICAN POP
Getting global with it.
IT'S PRETTY SMOKY
And this time it's not from our bong.
WHAT COMES AFTER TIKTOK?
Shorter videos! Weirder trends!
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