Lil Baby at Coachella review: Atlanta’s rising rap star delivers powerful BLM statement

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Lil Baby performs at Coachella on Friday (15 April)   (Getty Images for Coachella)
Lil Baby performs at Coachella on Friday (15 April) (Getty Images for Coachella)

Since bursting onto the Atlanta rap scene in 2017 with debut mixtape Perfect Timing, Lil Baby has – despite the diminutive name – only grown in stature, maturing into one of modern rap’s most compelling artists. From the moment the 27-year-old strode onto Coachella’s Main Stage on Friday (15 April) night he set about delivering an imposing, high-energy set, joined by frequent collaborator Gunna and flanked by a troupe of gyrating, twerking backing dancers.

Lil Baby is among the star attractions of Coachella 2022, which returns to California after a two-year Covid-induced hiatus.

Lil Baby drops his massive hit “Drip Too Hard” early in his breathless set, as one of his dancers launches T-shirts into the crowd. A raunchy version of player’s anthem “On Me” follows before Lil Baby strips topless for an exuberant “We Paid”.

Bursts of flames from the stage only underscore his own lyrical pyrotechnics.

Sadly, for fans, hoping for a surprise guest appearance from Drake, the pair’s collaboration “Yes Indeed” comes and goes with just the Canadian megastar’s pre-recorded vocals.

He calls “Emotionally Scarred” “one of my favourite songs to perform right now” and, watching him hold his Coachella audience in the palm of his hand as he raps about his journey from a hardscrabble upbringing to global fame, it isn’t hard to imagine why. The track was one of the highlights of his second album, aptly titled My Turn.

Lil Baby strips topless for an exuberant “We Paid” during his Coachella performance on Friday (Getty Images for Coachella)
Lil Baby strips topless for an exuberant “We Paid” during his Coachella performance on Friday (Getty Images for Coachella)

He ends the set with a powerful and emotive version of protest song “The Bigger Picture”, which was originally released in 2020 – just days after he led protests in Atlanta which erupted in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

As he raps, the screens behind him fill with images of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations which swept the country in response to yet another act of police brutality.

Lil Baby was a key figure in the Atlanta protests, and tonight’s performance proves that he’s an artist not just taking his turn in the spotlight, but using that opportunity to make a statement that’s impossible to ignore.

The biggest names in music will perform at Coachella over the next two weekends.

The star-studded headliners for this year’s event include Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Swedish House Mafia, with The Weeknd stepping in to replace Kanye West who pulled out last minute.

Follow live updates here.

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