Album: "It's Only Me" by Lil Baby
Release Date: Oct. 14, 2022
Label: Quality Control Music
Runtime: 65 minutes
Atlanta rapper Lil Baby has never had a greater maturity to his lyrics than he does on his new album "It's Only Me." But sometimes poetic lyricism isn't enough to make a strong album — no matter how many unforgettable featured verses or how touching the introspective lyrical performances are.
The album ultimately feels lackluster with nearly all 23 songs being sonically monotonous, extremely forgettable and low-effort. It almost feels like Baby's growth as an artist has become stagnant.
Listeners can see this monotony throughout the album — it's an undeniable trend in the piece. Even songs like "Heyy" feel repetitive because, while different from the rest of the album, they show off a flow that sounds identical to the style he used on his 2020 single "Heatin Up."
While Baby's lacking creative throughout the songs are obvious, there are parts of the album worth listening to. Many of the songs have amazing features — including an oxymoronic verse from Nardo Wick that sees Wick give an energetic performance despite whispering for all of it.
Songs like "Never Hating by Lil Baby & Young Thug" and "Forever (Ft. Fridayy)" are actually fun and catchy, albeit because of the features and the occasional unique tempo shift. These songs also work, in part, because of the sense of variety they bring — one the album is desperately without.
The album does show Baby's storytelling ability, through breaks in the monotony from songs like "Russian Roulette," "Forever (Ft. Fridayy)" and "No Fly Zone," where Baby provides intimate introspection. He changes styles and raps melodically about wanting to continue his affair with a romantic partner who is already in a committed relationship, about the pain and violence in his community, his struggles through poverty and crime, the growth he feels from adversity, wanting to give his kids a good life and even how his wealth has allowed him to move on from his previous hardships, while many of his friends experienced the inverse.
These songs all have the makings of good tracks — lycrism, introspection, personal storytelling, smooth chorus and heavy vocals from Fridayy.
A review on this album wouldn't be complete without at least mentioning Baby's rapping stamina and energy, which are noticeable in certain songs. There's nothing to dislike about seeing the rapper at his most confident, as he brags about his expensive watches with a clever play on words.
"AP a cool quarter million, I'm sorry, this watch do not come from me punchin' no clock" he raps in "Not Finished."
But even bragging charism, rich features, stunning vocals or an introspective Lil Baby aren't enough to make this album reach its full potential. It all sounds generic and similar, leaving listeners with a bloated sound.
Perhaps Baby has grown complacent after becoming one of the biggest rappers in the industry.