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Exclusive: Lil Baby Talks ‘Spark the Beat’ Competition With Doritos And Shares Some Advice Every Aspiring Artist Should Hear

The trap artist recently partnered with Doritos for the “Spark the Beat” competition to give rising artists a unique opportunity to collaborate on a song with the platinum-selling rapper.

Lil Baby has emerged as one of trap's most promising artists, and he’s done it in a short period of time. 

The Atlanta-bred MC’s list of record achievements in a two-year window is a longstanding testament to his talent. In a few short years, the 24-year-old has crossed the 1 billion threshold in streaming, dropped a string of chart-smashing hits, and proved his  mettle to go bar-for-bar with some of trap’s finest. Not many new artists can count Gucci Mane, Yo Gotti, Drake and Young Thug (to name a few) among their rap sheet. But after dropping four mixtapes in 2017 and three in the following year, each consequent release came with a new career high.

  • Lil Baby’s latest studio effort, Street Gossip, scored  his highest chart debut to date, standing at No. 2 atop the Billboard 200 chart. The 13-track mixtape also showcased an evolution of his sound. Warbled sing-song melodies tempered the rougher edges of Lil Baby’s gangsta-style street rapping. Once polished in the studio, Street Gossip introduced us to a more introspective Lil Baby that easily slipped between his street hustla persona and Dominique Jones before all the fame. If there’s one thing to take away from the project, it’s that Lil Baby is always hungry for what‘s next.

  • As of now, the 24-year-old is looking to build off the success of Street Gossip. The “Drip Too Hard” rapper recently partnered with Doritos to usher in the snack brand’s inaugural  “Spark the Beat” competition earlier this summer to discover new artists. In the same nature that  Lil Baby was handpicked from the streets by Coach K and Pee, the mastermind leaders behind Quality Control, the 24-year-old wants to do the same for the new partnership.

    The competition quickly became  an enormous opportunity for up-and-coming hip-hop artists to collaborate with the rap all-star, as aspiring lyricists and beatmakers got the once in a lifetime chance to work closely with Lil Baby and put their signature touch on a track. Their work was later reviewed before a panel of judges, including Lil Baby.

  • Ten thousand submissions and three months later, and the competition has drawn down to its final round for who will win the chance to feature on a track with Lil Baby. The question is what does Lil Baby have cooking up next? In anticipation of the “Yes Indeed” rapper’s forthcoming release following “Spark the Beat,” BET.com got to hear some exclusive, behind-the-scenes insight from the mind of one of trap’s most promising prospects.

  • BET: How did this collaboration with Doritos come about? 

    Lil Baby: Somebody from the marketing team at my label reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested in doing this Spark the Beat campaign with Doritos. They sent me how I would go through and it stuff. That definitely interested me. 

    BET: What were you most excited about coming into this collaboration? 

    Lil Baby: I’m all about giving up-and-coming people a chance. This is something I’m [enthusiastic about].

    BET: You’ve worked with a number of hip-hop heavyweights from Gucci Mane to Young Thug. What is your favorite part about collaborating with other hip-hop talents that are just as passionate about making music as you are? 

    Lil Baby: Even like you said, [it’s] me doing songs with all of [these] other people. It’s their definition and they’ve already got a lifestyle with it. It’s different rap when you make it before you make it. All of these people are up-and-coming musicians [so] it’s a different hunger in them. It kind of almost takes me back to when I started and I was [trying] to get on as an up-and-coming [artist].   

    BET: As a judge on the panel, what exactly were you looking for in the winners?

    Lil Baby: We were just looking for something different, something that’s good and, to me, something that caught my ear. 

    BET: What are some of the things that stood out? 

    Lil Baby: I was looking for people [who were] not trying to sound like me. You know, like how you can take the narrative of a song and they try to rap off of me and try to follow my lead? I was looking for people who put their own lead on the song as far as the vocals. On the producer side, it was just the beats. I can’t really explain it. I just got an ear for the kind of things I like. I don’t really know the beats or drums. I’m still in the process of learning that. There’s certain little sounds that I just like to hear. 

    BET: What was your mindset like going into the competition and how did that change by the end of this. 

    Lil Baby: My mindset was kind of on some ‘How’s this going to go?’ because I’d never been in a contest where you submit something and I got to go through it. In my head, I was like ‘I wonder how this gonna turn out?’ When the contest actually came and I [saw how] their [lives were] changing right before their lives, I’m grateful Doritos gave me a chance to be a part of this. 

    BET: What was the most surprising thing about this competition?

    Lil Baby: The most surprising thing was the amount of people that submitted to it. I’m not for sure but it was like over 10,000. Everyday, it was like new people turning in content. It was an ongoing process from July until now. It was a whole team of people and they kind of filtered out music out for the most part and then sent it to me. I listened to a couple of hundred — no problem [daily]. 

    BET: How did these sessions help you refine the direction you want to take your sound next after Street Gossip? 

    Lil Baby: I can’t say that this helped me or didn’t help me because I don’t really listen to people for their sound. I don’t really listen to them for a newer sound. 

    BET: What was your most favorite thing about being a part of this competition? 

    Lil Baby: Actually, I’ve had my own label for a year now. I’ve kind of been in the business of being over other artists and not just an artist for a year now. It kind of helped me in those terms, too, and how I’m going to run my business. It just showed me the different broadness in talent that’s all around. I kind of always looked for the same thing and people who are like me. [This competition] just showed me that there’s so much other stuff out there that I’m sleeping on. One of the winners, for instance, has an amazing song but he’s not someone I would be looking to sign to my label. But since I’ve done this, I’ll start looking at people. I can’t explain but once you see the winners, I think you’ll see where I’m coming from.

    There was a couple of times where not all the judges agreed. Everybody doesn't have the same head and everybody else don’t like what I like. There were some areas where we didn’t agree. Of course, it was my final say. So, I was like ‘this ain’t it.’ [Laughs].

    BET: With you being from Atlanta where there’s so much innovation happening in trap, did this competition  help you develop an ear for determining where the sound of music is going? 

    Lil Baby: I think the sound goes with people like me [who are] the leaders of the wave. I don’t really be looking for that. 

    BET: What’s one piece of you share with those who unfortunately didn’t win? 

    Lil Baby: For the ones who didn’t win, it doesn’t mean anything because y'all doing some amazing things and people are listening in a lot of good places. So, it’s high chances that some people could be watching them from the Doritos campaign. That’s what I would say. 

     

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