DaBaby has gone from an unknown rapper who picked up the skillset late to one of the game’s hottest names in just a few short years. His name is likely recognized by both hip-hop enthusiasts and casual listeners alike. However, that name wasn’t always his calling card. When the North Carolina rapper started making his name locally, his name was something more divine.
Who is DaBaby?
DaBaby isn’t a young prodigy who has been rapping since he was a child. Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, DaBaby, whose real name is Jonathan Kirk, turned to petty crime before his growing list of legal issues made him think twice about the place his life was headed.
In 2015, the 24-year-old decided to focus his energy on something less destructive, and the rapper who eventually became DaBaby was born,
To say that DaBaby made quick work of becoming a rapper is putting it lightly. He started putting out mixtapes regularly, and with 2016’s God’s Work Resurrected, he hit the mainstream. Hip hop fans across North Carolina ate up every mixtape that DaBaby released.
In 2016, he released six mixtapes that helped put him on the map outside his state thanks to features from rappers like Boosie Badazz.
In 2019, however, he officially hit the mainstream with the album Baby on Baby. He followed that up with another album, KIRK, that further cemented his place as one of the game’s best upcoming rappers.
Now, DaBaby is one of the most famous rappers globally, with several of hip hop’s most prominent names coming into the studio with him and helping him top charts across the world.
However, almost as intriguing as his musical story is DaBaby’s name history, which takes some twists and turns that are downright Biblical.
During his early years as a late-blooming rapper, DaBaby was nowhere to be found. After discovering a passion for hip-hop, he decided to go by the name Baby Jesus.
While egotistical on its best day, the story behind the name also helps to explain how the rapper sees his words resonating with people. He chose the name to reflect how he wanted his words to spread throughout the world to XXL.
“2017 will be the year of DaBaby,” he tells XXL over the phone. “The name change, it just shows me the amount of love and respect people have for me. To change the name and not lose any traction, that’s something a lot of people have trouble doing. When it comes to 2017, we’re ready to work.”
He went on to explain his name change on the introduction to God’s Work Resurrected. There, he explains that while his name had meaning, it was a political decision to steer people away from seeing him as some sort of religious rapper who could only resonate with specific groups. He wanted his work to resonate with people far beyond his bubble without losing the traction he was gaining in the hip-hop world.
DaBaby is born
With a new rap moniker and a star that was fully shining, the name change might have been the rapper’s final step to becoming big-time. Now, he’s one of the most sought after games in the rap world, with lyrics that resonate with people worldwide. Still, while his name may have changed, his ambitions remain the same.
“[My goal in hip-hop is] to take it where it never been taken before,” He told XXL. “I am a perfectionist. I don’t really limit myself. I want people to look at me crazy. As quick as I am, gaining success as I have, I knew it was going to take place. I’m doing it to succeed. When it comes to my goals, I’m talking Grammys, I’m talking legendary, to be the greatest of all time.”
DaBaby got here through hard work, motivation, and an ability to tell a compelling story through his lyrics. It’s a journey that is filled with change and reaching the next level above the odds. While his original moniker has since been dropped, the meaning behind it remains strong, and DaBaby’s ascent can get even higher from here.