Of all of the artists who’ve been thought of proteges of Young Thug, there’s possibly none who’ve carved out their very own lane like Lil Baby. You’ll be able to nonetheless hear shades of Thugger’s warbling drawl in Child’s stream, however the place Thug has existed on his personal wavelength for years as a defiant experimentalist, Child is rather more right down to Earth, with an unsparing directness that’s made him top-of-the-line storytellers within the rap sport.
This wasn’t at all times the case. Early doubters dismissed Lil Child and his friends as “mumble rap,” however Child is an artist who makes use of his voice as an expressive instrument, demanding that you just pay attention carefully: “You gotta actually listen, I’m not mumbling,” as he places it on “Heyy.” Even at his most up-tempo and aggressive, Lil Child’s voice nonetheless sounds virtually tearful, cracking and aching because the pressures of life put on him down. There’s a way of humble awe on the success Lil Child has seen and the stadiums he’s now able to filling, however even when he’s flexing it by no means actually seems like Child is bragging. Extra success means elevated surveillance, rising his paranoia and making him really feel like each relationship he fosters appears doomed to a poisonous conclusion.
On songs like 2020’s “The Greater Image,” Child expressed an elevated sense of perspective, not fairly acutely aware, however involved, a rapper each uncomfortably conscious of the precarity of his existence as a Black man in a racist police state, and cognizant of the potential energy of his increasing platform to have an effect on change.
Along with his newest solo album It’s Solely Me — a becoming title for an artist whose music usually feels so aching and lonely — Lil Child continues to mature as each a lyricist and a stylist, although the maturation means extra bars tailor-made for Grammy consideration and fewer experimentation.
Like so many rappers who quickly ascend to the highest of the charts and discover themselves inhabiting a totally new actuality, Lil Child has struggled to take care of a number of the real perspective that made him so compelling — most of the issues Child now unpacks in songs like “From Now On “ quantity to the unrelatable struggles of a really wealthy man.
However Child’s change in perspective comes with a darkish undercurrent that seeps into the album at each flip. Given the continued authorized railroading of Lil Child’s frequent collaborators and YSL associates Younger Thug and Gunna, it’s laborious to not really feel paranoia creeping across the edges of It’s Solely Me, as if the feds have been tapping the recording studio. Child would possibly make status rap albums now, nevertheless it’s nonetheless higher than a majority of mainstream rap albums as a result of Child has not misplaced his essence utterly; there’s nonetheless very actual fears creeping across the floor on every monitor, which provides him sufficient of an edge to remain attention-grabbing throughout 23 tracks.
Tracks like “Actual Spill,” “In a Minute,” and “California Breeze” are constructed round light vocal samples located beneath Child’s bars. Whereas it’s hardly cloud rap, the ghostly voices that flank Child recall to mind the haunted beats of Clams On line casino or James Blake, crafting an environment that’s ceaselessly bleak.
The center of Child’s sound is at all times a pounding 808, however he attracts on a broad palette to fill out his sound, with an virtually tasteful magnificence moderately than gimmicky samples or playlist-baiting style flip. On “Good Timing,” the beat is draped in a blazing guitar solo befitting a Eighties energy ballad, whereas “Waterfall Stream” sees Child entering into over a cascade of trippy synths. For higher or worse, at an awesome 23 tracks, It’s Solely Me is extra of a playlist expertise than a concise and targeted album, an countless stream with occasional stylistic thrives however a principally constant power.
Lil Child may be a pop star now — the form of artist recruited to collaborate on a mash-up with Tears for Fears for the World Cup’s “Official Budweiser Anthem” — however he’s nonetheless firmly a rapper, and maintains a knack for matching his company’ tenacity.
The rappers Lil Child surrounds himself with, like EST Gee, Pooh Shiesty, and Nardo Wick, have an analogous relentlessness to their flows, and maybe specific Child’s personal rising affect. On a monitor like “Again and Forth” with EST Gee, there’s not likely a hook — because the title implies, it’s a relay race between two rappers who by no means run out of breath. Child doesn’t stray removed from his Atlanta roots, however he more and more feels of a bit with the rawness of present Midwestern rap — each the unstoppable supply of Detroit rappers like 42 Dugg and the bleeding coronary heart of Chicago drill artists like Lil Durk. The frenetic piano loop and fats bass on “Hazard” make for a beat that may match proper in on a Rio Da Yung OG tape.
It’s Solely Me sees Lil Child standing on his personal phrases, one thing of a guarded loner, however there are few artists extra consultant of the distinctive state mainstream Hip Hop occupies in 2022, for higher and worse. More and more, rappers have been in a position to transmit straight from the trenches, constructing a large viewers with out sanding down the perimeters or enjoying the identical previous business sport. Lil Child has capitalized on that window like few others, talking his unvarnished fact whereas proving his mettle as a perceptive songwriter. He’s enjoying the sport however each phrase is considerate, each transfer plotted, each feeling actual.
Lil Child not having Gunna or Lil Durk featured on his album feels bizarre to me bro
— Jah Talks Music (@JahTalksMusic) October 14, 2022
somebody tried enjoying the brand new Lil Child album within the automotive and this occurred 🤯 pic.twitter.com/GBQzwYCVFZ
— 🃏.kutthroat invoice (@1habash) October 14, 2022
Lil Child made y’all suppose he fell off then went 23/23 on his album
— ꜰʟᴀᴍᴇ (@LAxFLAME) October 14, 2022