Lil Baby Credit: courtesy the artist

The gatekeepers of hip-hop will tell you Atlanta is the culture’s spiritual home, and rapper Lil Baby, who was born there in 1994, has been reaping its benefits through osmosis. He grew up in the same neighborhood as Pierre “Pee” Thomas, one of the cofounders of Quality Control Music (Migos and Lil Yachty), before the latter launched the now celebrated indie hip-hop label. When Baby decided he wanted to give music a try, after serving two years of a five-year sentence for selling drugs, QC picked him up. “I’ve been rapping for like 13 months,” he told the Fader in May, a handful of days after QC dropped his debut album, Harder Than Ever. “I ain’t even gonna say that I found my style or sound yet because I’m still liable to switch it up.” His newness to the craft may also be why he gets a little lost on the album. While the good stuff is solid, in its worst moments his music feels like club Muzak—it’ll do in the background, but it’s hardly remarkable. Baby’s best turns are cold, and his rat-a-tat delivery of the hook on the gargantuan hit “Yes Indeed” nearly erases Drake’s contribution to the song from my memory every time I listen.   v