There has probably never been an infant where exclaiming "My, he's growing so fast!" would fit more than DaBaby. Over the past year, the North Carolinian has rocketed to stardom, millions of streams, and sold-out shows, firmly entrenching him as one of the hottest names in Hip Hop right now. In part, that's obviously due to his raw talent, but another big reason is his savvy approach to self-promotion. We took a look at his marketing tactics to see what might help you on your path to greatness.
First off, like the best businesses out there, Jonathan Lyndale Kirk aka DaBaby knows that in order to turn any momentum from a big single into long-lasting success, you need to have a strong brand. It doesn't mean he's hawking keychains with his logo out of the trunk of his car, but he does lean full on into his moniker. His debut album is called "Baby on Baby", the follow-up features him when he was an infant on the cover, he has a series of mixtapes titled "Baby Talk", his catchphrase and also the title of one of his hits is "Goin' Baby", which he explained to Rolling Stone thusly: "Anything that you do exceedingly well, you goin’ baby."
It might seem a ridiculous image for any serious musician to tie himself to, especially in the macho world of Hip Hop, but combined with DaBaby's humorous outlook and flair for entertaining, it's working overtime. Before his big break, the rapper even turned up at the famed SXSW festival in nothing but a diaper, blasting his music and pushing his name out there. The viral stunt worked, got people talking, and helped propel DaBaby to the next step.
Speaking of humor, there's no doubt that DaBaby is a born entertainer. Whether it's behind-the-scenes glimpses shared on Instagram, witty Twitter repartee, pointed lyrical game, or just run-of-the-mill interview questions, he's always ready with a clever comeback. And if all of the above weren't enough, he really takes advantage of his comedic chops in his music videos, which hark back to the golden age of Busta Rhymes, Eminem, and Ludacris clips, counterbalancing the musical braggadocio with onscreen jokes and absurdity. The well-made clips are saturated with visual details and have high rewatch value, and let's be honest – in a world where every other rap video is some combination of babes, bling, guns and drugs, it's refreshing to see someone putting his own creative stamp out there.
It's not just in his music and videos that the real DaBaby shines through, though. In fact, his sincerity and honesty in all of his appearances and fan interactions, whether in person or via social media, is probably one of his greatest strengths. Obviously, he doesn't sit back and let an impersonal PR agency run his channels, but it's more than that – he's open about his life, both the good and the bad, turning the latter to his advantage whenever possible. For example, after getting into a fight with another rapper, he came out with merchandise, capitalizing on the incident with a funny special edition t-shirt and just taking it in stride. Another example – when he couldn't make it to a show due to jet failure, he Facetimed the audience and the fans ate it up.
DaBaby truly never misses an opportunity to gain traction with fans, probably also because he hardly ever slacks off. His work ethic's admirable and goes beyond just the fact that he dropped not one, but two albums in 2019, and no fewer than six mixtapes in 2017. He's received praise from industry execs for his dedication, especially considering he could still be lounging about and coasting along on early success. But he knows that you strike when the iron's hot, and he's not about to let up. It's a hunger that's apparent event in the way he raps, launching into tracks and beats without hesitation, and it's a hunger that keeps him driving his momentum forward. He's not resting on his laurels, he's taking his success and reinvesting it into his work, for example by financing his videos with his own money, resulting in even greater success and taking his game to the next level. It's a pretty basic business model, if you think about it, but for many, it's probably hard to keep focus once the money starts rolling in.
He's not resting on his laurels, he's taking his success and reinvesting it into his work, for example by financing his videos with his own money, resulting in even greater success and taking his game to the next level.
Despite the non-stop work mode and the constant production, however, DaBaby is smart enough to know that oversaturating the market can quickly backfire. Whereas some acts put out bloated records in the hopes of simply overloading the streaming charts or throwing enough songs out there to ensure at least some of them stick, DaBaby keeps his output concise. Both of his 2019 albums clock in at barely over half an hour, his songs are short and sharp, often no more than a few bars and a chorus. These musical hit-and-runs land with a strong impact, but at the same time leave you wanting more, the next track, the next album, getting you to feel the hunger that drives DaBaby himself. Add in a talent for spotting the right collab opportunities or utilizing Hip Hop's mixtape culture to offer something new yet comfortably familiar, and suddenly you have the guy who had the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2019, yet somehow still isn't annoyingly ubiquitous. Hard to imagine from a guy literally shouting "DaBaby DaBaby DaBaby" into the camera, but here we are – it's 2020 and DaBaby is definitely goin' baby.
Cover photo: Julian Bajsel/Day N Vegas Festival
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