The "Rockstar" rapper runs down his musical inspirations
Da Baby
Credit: Jackie Dimailig

Soundtrack of My Life is a recurring column where musicians recall their favorite songs, artists, and albums. 

DaBaby has had quite the year.

The rapper's quarantine-released album Blame It on Baby debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in April. His single "Rockstar" dominated the Hot 100, spending seven weeks at the top of the chart. And despite the fact that DaBaby, 28, doesn’t go on TikTok, for months you couldn’t use the popular app without seeing someone attempting the viral dance to his hit song. "I’m just getting started," he tells EW of his whirlwind year.

DaBaby (real name Jonathan Kirk) adds that he isn't surprised by the response to his music, especially the hype surrounding the Roddy Ricch-assisted "Rockstar." "The second I made it, I knew it was a No. 1," he tells EW. "I knew it was an amazing crossover. I knew it had that potential." But he didn't even realize how big the single had become on TikTok until his niece told him. "I don’t use TikTok. I didn’t have one; I have one now and I still don’t even use it," he says. "It was just 100 percent organic how that happened. But I do know that if they didn’t like the music in the first place they wouldn’t be making those TikToks."

While DaBaby may not know all the "Rockstar" dance moves either — "It’s a little bit too next level for me, I can’t do all that," he admits — he does know his musical influences. Here, the rapper shares with EW the songs and artists that shaped his life.

First music I bought with my own money

"It was from Making the Band, that TV series. And I used money that I got from getting good grades in like fourth grade."

First song I ever performed in public

"The first song I ever performed in public seriously was the first real song I ever made in the studio, 'Baby Jesus.' But when I was in sixth grade, this boy in my class, we made a song and we performed it in front of the cafeteria, onstage, with microphones. I was throwing out T-shirts, people were going crazy."

First song I ever wanted to cover

"When I think of covers, I think of like when R&B artists sing someone else’s song in the same way, and I ain’t never did that. My style is taking people’s beats and [rapping] on them. I used to do that all the time on my way up. I got that from Lil Wayne. He’d make these mixtapes, take the hottest songs, and just rap on them and make people forget about the original song. I’m really going to start back on that. I was going to surprise people with it but you heard it here first."

The artists who inspired me

"Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Tupac. That whole era. Lil Wayne, Nelly, Ludacris, Eminem, 50 Cent, Bow Wow, Chris Brown when he made the 'Yo (Excuse Me Miss)' video, when he’s walking up the street hollering at a girl. Fat Joe with 'Lean Back.' When Jim Jones had that “ballin’” song [“We Fly High”]. Then Lil Jon and his wave. And don’t forget about Usher — don’t act like Usher didn’t do his thing. And a lot of other people. I could talk on this for hours. I was born in 1991, so I’ve seen so many different eras of music. And I’ve got older brothers, and when you’ve got older siblings, they’re listening to something completely different that you don’t understand at all, but you’re around it."

The music genre I’d love to try

"I already am trying them all. I feel like genres can be stretched and bent, you know what I mean? There’s no rules. I went No. 1 with  'Rockstar,' and it could be classified as country music, hip hop, rock and roll, all in one."

The song that makes me sing in the car

"'Rockstar.' Anything off my new deluxe album, really."

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