Lil Baby on Hip-Hop’s 50th Anniversary, Touring and His New Non-Profit Organization
Lil Baby keeps it moving.
Interview: Aleia Woods
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Summer 2023 issue of XXL Magazine.
Sure, Lil Baby is a big-time entertainer, but he’s also a businessman. Currently, he’s focused on the release of his Japanese comic (or manga as they are known) called Shonen Baby, which he co-produced with AXE. Also on deck is the Atlanta rapper’s It’s Only Us Tour that kicks off in July. Here, a busy Lil Baby speaks on his plans for new music, his manga, touring, being philanthropical and the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
XXL: The title of your manga is Shonen Baby. Is that a play on your rap name?
Lil Baby: Yeah. Of course, the Baby part came from me, but the Shonen part means a bunch of action, a bunch of adventure.
You have experience with choosing album titles. Was deciding on the name for your manga a similar process?
All the way similar. Kind of like naming an album. It kind of goes with what I’m talking about on the album. It kind of go with the track. So, definitely the same process since I got to come up with titles all the time. Song titles. Album titles. Titles for this. I’m kind of good at making titles now.
There was talk earlier this year of a possible Lil Baby and Drake joint album. Is that happening?
Maybe so. Maybe not.
The summer is coming up and you usually take over the season. Do you have any projects in the works?
Summer is coming up. I got a tour coming, starting in July. I’m actually going to drop an album this summer and my artist, Rylo Rodriguez, will be dropping an album this summer.
The supporting acts for your It’s Only Us Tour are Rylo Rodriguez, GloRilla, Gloss Up and Hunxho. What made you choose these artists?
Of course, Glo [is] really for the girls. I want to make sure I tap into the females. Then Hunxho, I see him on the rise in Atlanta. I like his music and I’m more so a fan of him. So, I want to give him the experience and for Rylo to go out on his first tour.
How important is touring to you?
Touring is super important to me. At first, I didn’t really understand it, but as I continue to tour and my tours continue to get bigger and bigger, and it’s more profitable and gives my fans a better experience, touring is definitely a main part that you don’t want to miss. But a lot of artists do miss it, I see. Touring is definitely one of those steps you don’t want to miss.
What do you have planned for after the summer?
I’m always working, never not working. I got a non-profit that I’m launching and another company. We got a big rollout coming out. I’m building a little community center in my neighborhood. I got a whole list of things.
Can you speak a little bit about the non-profit?
I got a non-profit called For the People Foundation. I teamed up with someone else and we’re going to open up a music class in different HBCUs. It’s definitely going to be something super, super big. And it’s actually going to roll out, like, everywhere. I’m going to do some things with Apple and different services and stuff, so you’ll definitely see it.
August marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. What does that milestone mean to you?
The 50th anniversary means a lot to me, but now that I’m a part of it, it’s become totally different. To be able to come 50 years, you would think that hip-hop has been here for so long, but if you think about, like, 50 years is not even that long. So, 50 years or 100 years from now, I want to be somewhere in the history.
The Freshman issue of XXL magazine is on newsstands now. See Finesse2tymes, Rob49, Fridayy, GloRilla, 2Rare, SleazyWorld Go, Lola Brooke, Central Cee, Real Boston Richey, Luh Tyler, TiaCorine and DC The Don's official Freshman pages. In addition to interviews with all 12 artists in the 2023 Class and Freshman cyphers producer Pi'erre Bourne, it includes interviews with Lil Baby, NLE Choppa, Boosie BadAzz, Toosii, DDG, Saba, producer Go Grizzly, engineer Jaycen Joshua, singer Coco Jones, SinceThe80s' President Barry "Hefner" Johnson and AEW wrestler Swerve Strickland, plus a look back at what the 2022 XXL Freshman Class is doing, hip-hop's love for golfing featuring Scarface, OMB Peezy and pro golfer Harold Varner III, conversations with 10 new artists making noise and a deep dive into A.I. hip-hop songs. You can also buy the 2023 XXL Freshman Class issue here.