Lil Baby – It’s Only Me: Review

Pacing is key, particularly prevalent in Hip-Hop, where we’ve had years of monstrous albums that encompasses a feature-length film runtime. Despite the consistency in drops from it, the pacing isn’t always an issue, becoming more of an afterthought when the project is excellent. The number of tracks can become a catalyst based on its construction; other times, it could be because they carry redundancies. That’s the case with Lil Baby’s new album It’s Only Me, a 23-track 66-minute behemoth that feels bloated and repetitive. It doesn’t lack cohesiveness, but his selection of beats and a slight deficiency in variety make it an uneven product that could have benefited from more post-work and trimming. It doesn’t discredit the quality of work Lil Baby brings to the forefront from a technical lens; his flows and lyrics are on point, making up for a few retreads with potency. Unfortunately, it’s a slog from beginning to end, feeling meritless as it comes to a close since quality tracks get spread too thinly throughout; it’s another bloated, ticky-tacky Hip-Hop album that never ends, despite some keen reflections and features. 

Reflecting the nature of the album cover, It’s Only Me is a reflection of growth through the years of Lil Baby. He’s exploring varying themes relating to extravagance, love, personal growth, and more. After a while, it becomes redundant as Lil Baby forgets to add substance to the sandwich, and these tracks that cover similar ground further bloat the final product, leaving that 66-minute runtime feels too long. There isn’t a moment one will doubt that he won’t deliver the goods on the surface level–great metaphors and slick wordplay; however, it doesn’t usually translate to something of merit. “California Breeze” sees Lil Baby reflecting on his extravagant lifestyle, loyalty, and past relationships; over this downbeat trap beat, it offers little as it seems to be a lack of care for having it all relate. It’s done better and more vigorously on “Pop Out,” which plays with the beat, invoking a switch that then sees featured artist Nardo Wick deliver the sauce. 

It’s a barrage of different perspectives that correlate loosely with each other. Variations of that luxurious, braggadocio purview continue with “Stop Playin’,” which is another extension of while “Danger,” “In A Minute,” and “Top Priority” find varying angles to deliver the same bars about his luxurious life, without as much substance. It doesn’t need as much depth since these raps tend to be reflexive of technical skills instead of songwriting/story-telling skills; however, when you’re over-sizzle, it’s displacing the solid ones. It can best be described as this uneven roller coaster that was too promising on paper but got the wrong builders to accomplish the feat. Even though they aren’t complete linear reflections, it goads the pacing, creating costly spacing between the fantastic and mediocre tracks.

These reflections become less reliant on substance and more on tonal delivery as they usually equate to the underlying tenacity to be a hard-hitter. We hear Lil Baby rap similar anecdotes through different inflections, like back-to-back tracks “Forever” and “Not Finished.” The former is a humbling reflection of love that Lil Baby expresses tenderly, which is a 180 from the latter, which sees Lil Baby disregarding the love aspect of his relationships and vigorously trending toward that freaky-deeky and lavish lifestyle. “Not Finished” sees Lil Baby getting extra dirty and arrogant, adding nothing to the table. It encompasses this innate bravado that casts a shield upon himself, finding little in his braggadocio bars. “Forever” is more grounded and realized; we hear Lil Baby exploring the dimensions of his relationship, the toxicity between him and his lover, and so forth. There is no shade for the former, but it isn’t delivered effectively. 

What surrounds these middling issues are tracks that stand on their own, but the spacing is scarce. “Real Spill,” “No Fly Zone,” and “Cost to be Alive” are a few that push past the standard drum patterns spread through It’s Only Me. They see Lil Baby digging into his emotional bag and reflecting on his past, humbling himself while proclaiming dominance through success. He brings character, giving us something to look at and contemplate alongside him, specifically through these raw, encapsulating bars. It’s different from “Danger” or “Top Priority,” yet better; however, it doesn’t discredit “Danger” or “Top Priority” since they bring home that kind of bravado you’d want from Lil Baby at his peak. But as much as one can pick apart and say you can construct a more fluid album, it still wouldn’t have more than a personal benefit since the listen-through is a slog. In between, it’s retreading mediocrity that leaves you feeling empty with its experience.

In between, It’s Only Me has retreading mediocrity that leaves you feeling empty with its experience. It’s as if Lil Baby decided to flood us with stacking ideas that never go far, and you’re left sifting through 23 tracks to see which worked for you and which didn’t. For me, most didn’t, but it wouldn’t be right if I couldn’t say there were some recommendable tracks like “Cost to be Alive.” It leaves you sullen until you realize 2022 has many other noteworthy releases to look forward to. And till then, frisk through the ones of note that were genuinely great to see how it fares with you.

Rating: 5 out of 10.

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