Blaming DaBaby’s Fall on Bad Music, Not Cancel Culture — Andscape

Controversy creates money. It’s a saying as old as public relations. So when North Carolina rapper DaBaby wanted to draw attention to his latest album, Baby on Baby 2he went straight to the simplest goal: pissing off the internet.

His method? The song “Boogeyman,” in which he claims he had sex with rapper Megan Thee Stallion the day before his shot, allegedly by rapper Tory Lanez, in 2020. The stunt worked, to some degree, as DaBaby’s name was the #1 trending topic on Twitter. But that didn’t translate into success for the album – Baby on Baby 2 sold a measly 16,000 copies in its first week. The album’s poor performance led fans and some of DaBaby’s peers, like Meek Mill, to speculate that the low sales figures were due to a “cancel culture” backlash following his anti-gay outbursts last year. The answer, however, is much simpler: DaBaby just doesn’t make good music.

DaBaby, born Jonathan Kirk, exploded onto the national scene in 2019 with his debut album, baby on baby. The project would eventually reach No. 7 on the Billboard 200, powered by the platinum single “Suge”. DaBaby would carry popularity throughout the year, endearing himself to both male and female fans with his carefree nature, fun videos, and unique rhyme flow that rumbled against the beat like a pair of sneakers in the dryer. Later in 2019 he would drop Church, a chart-topping album with two more platinum singles, “Intro” and “Bop”. DaBaby achieved the rare feat of being both Rookie of the Year and MVP of 2019.

This momentum continued in 2020 with another #1 album, Baby’s fault. Slowly, however, the cracks in DaBaby’s musical output began to show. It became clear that the rapper lacked malleability with his flow, rapping the same on every beat. For example, at the end of 2019, he fought against a Swing in the morning freestyle to a slower “Guilty Conscience” beat. The video is said to be widely ridiculed on social media. His songs would have the same problem. Every new track, including its EP, My Brother’s Keeper (Long Live G)felt increasingly redundant and failed to capture the magic of that first pre-pandemic run.

Then the you-know-what hit the fan. During last summer Rolling Loud FestivalDaBaby paused between songs to offer this brief comment:

“If you didn’t show up today with HIV or AIDS or one of those deadly sexually transmitted diseases that will kill you in two to three weeks, then turn on your cell phone. Guys, if you’re not sucking d— in the parking lot, turn on your cell phone.

The comments were despicable, wrongfully condemning HIV-positive people to death while spitting vitriol at gay people. Fans and celebrities such as the British singer Elton Johnwriter George M. Johnsonand collaborator Doua Lipa spoke out against the rapper’s anti-gay bias.

DaBaby replied more vitriol, arguing that his gay fans don’t have HIV or AIDS because they aren’t “bad guys” or “junkies”. He posted a video titled Give what it’s meant to give, where he held up a sign that read “AIDS” and a closing message that read: “Do not fight hate with hate. My apologies for being me the way you want the freedom to be you. DaBaby would publish an apology, of which it is the content since deleted.

Parties such as Lollapalooza canceled its services. And as the deletions grew, DaBaby would become the poster child of “cancel culture” – the idea that society has changed to the point that people can’t speak freely, resulting in damaged careers and, ultimately, silence. Comedian Dave Chappelle, who has come under fire for his own anti-gay and anti-trans content, used DaBaby as the focal point of a joke about how offending the LGBT community carries more punishment than violence against black people. In it, he mentioned an incident from 2018 in which DaBaby shot and killed a black man in what he said was self-defense and did not face jail time.

As the reviews grew, DaBaby only became more dedicated to being his most toxic self. he posted several videos on Instagram kicking the mother of her child out of their home and shouting insults at her. A video of him and his pals has reportedly surfaced bang his brother in a bowling alley. And he had an adversarial relationship with Megan Thee Stallion that seemed to come out of nowhere. DaBaby brought in Tory Lanez, who was accused of shooting Megan Thee Stallion, to perform with him at that same Rolling Loud show where he made his anti-gay comments.

In short, DaBaby was doing his career a disservice.

This fact hasn’t stopped conspiracy theories about why his album failed. Rappers like Meek Mill and Boosie — the latter has his own list of anti-gay statements — both spoke about DaBaby’s numbers, hinting at a plot to suppress his success, even though the album charted high on Apple Music and Spotify. DaBaby said his sales weren’t bad for someone who was “blackboulé.” But the insinuation was clear: DaBaby was a victim of the LGBT community and its “power” to get rid of celebrities. This assumes that the LGBT community maintains an inordinate level of dominance that supersedes that of any other group, allowing them to wield that power to drown out any voices that dare to offend them. This stereotype is not only dishonest, it also ignores an important fact about DaBaby’s downfall: he just hasn’t been making good music lately.

Baby on Baby 2 continues DaBaby’s tendency to refuse to change style, flow or song structure. In it, he raps over the same kinds of beats with longtime collaborator JetsonMade, and throws in the same delivery and hooks. “Socks,” for example, is as nonchalant as anything in its catalog. “Act That Hard” looks like it might have come out in 2020, and maybe what DaBaby still looks like in 2025.

Additionally, his attempts to drag Megan Thee Stallion, one of rap’s biggest names, into his publicity for the album reeked of desperation, which further pushed fans back. Even before the release of the album, DaBaby had to cancel a concert in New Orleans due to low ticket sales.

If the history of music and entertainment has taught us one thing, it’s that quality production replaces almost all offenses, and even some crimes, especially if those crimes are against people society doesn’t care about. not. Just look at the illustrious career of R. Kelly, who was recently convicted of child pornography, or the fact that Kodak Black, who has a lengthy criminal record, recently performed at the BET Hip-Hop Awards.

I mean, just look at Lanez.

Lanez has been at the center of controversy since Megan Thee Stallion accused him of shooting her in August 2020. He has spent most of his time since the incident antagonizing her, spreading misogyny and insults, everything doing legal business in the shooting, one for assault with a firearm and another for carrying an unregistered firearm, are pending. And yet, Lanez’s popularity did not wane. His last album, Sorry 4 Whateven got a co-signature on social media of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

There are two reasons for Lanez’s continued popularity: First, there’s a desire among some, especially men like Lanez and his fans, to see women humiliated. But even that wouldn’t save his career if he wasn’t widely regarded as a talented musician – Lanez has written hits for bands such as Fifth Harmony and G-Eazy and is capable of producing a diverse range of popular songs. He has a talent that DaBaby hasn’t shown he has.

Cancel culture is a myth that attempts to portray those who seek to harm marginalized people as victims. But no one is truly undone seeing their career ended offending the LGBT community, the black community, or any other group that needs to fight for equality. Find a celebrity who claims to have been canceled and you will also see a celebrity who is still making money. Sure, DaBaby suffered some short-term career setbacks when some of his festival appearances were pulled, but his album still charted high on streaming service homepages. He is still on tour. He will be able to make a living as a musician for years to come, although he will never reach the popularity he achieved in 2020. If he released some of the best music, he would be riding the wave of fandom towards the same track record- topping the success he enjoyed when he was hip-hop’s hot new number. Tory Lanez and the endless list of abusers, anti-gay people and racists whose careers continue to flourish indicate that these offenses alone do not end careers..

DaBaby’s shaky career has nothing to do with his anti-gay bias. After all, Chappelle is more famous than ever. Boosie is still doing interviews and going viral whenever he wants. Comedian Kevin Hart, who quit as host of the Oscars in 2018 over his past anti-gay tweets, is on a massive comedy tour. DaBaby could also enjoy a super-successful career while being part of the growing anti-LGBT fraternity if he produced whatever content people wanted to enjoy. Instead, he just makes bad music. Even if DaBaby hadn’t had that explosion at Rolling Loud, his career would be on the same trajectory it is now: a downward spiral of a two-year supernova that couldn’t maintain its own greatness because its music just wasn’t good enough.

David Dennis Jr. is senior writer at Andscape and recipient of the American Mosaic Journalism Award. His book, The Movement Made Us, will be released in 2022. David is a graduate of Davidson College.

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