DaBaby lost his older brother G on November 3rd. Just a few short weeks later, he confronts the loss head on his profound and distinctly emotional EP My Brother’s Keeper (Long Live G).
If you are a fan of newer age hip-hop then I’m sure you have heard of DaBaby. Born Jonathan Kirk, DaBaby grew up on the East Coast in the Carolinas in what he describes as a “challenging upbringing.” From having to fight over girls at school to fending off bullies who made fun of his short stature, these experiences made Baby the thick-skinned artist you see today.
As school was getting him down, Baby’s older brother G was pulling him up. Baby talks regurlarly about how his brother has been such a big influence on him throughout his life especially in their early years. He describes how his brother was thick-skinned and always thrived in conflict. He was also known for being smooth with the ladies and dressing up to par.
If you follow Da Baby’s career, you can see all of these traits exemplified in his personality. But after he welcomed a daughter into the world a few years ago, you could see a shift in his tough guy image. And while all of his music didn’t suddenly become emotional, he showed a new side to his music on songs like “Intro” and “No Tears.” If the birth of his daughter cracked open the door to a more vulnerable direction for Baby, the loss of his brother slammed the door wide open.
On November 3, 2020, DaBaby’s brother Glenn Johnson took his own life from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Just a few days later, Kirk announced that he would be releasing an EP in his brother’s memory. In “My Brother’s Keeper (Long Live G)” Baby shares a heartbroken realness we have never heard from him before. There is so much more emotion and storytelling in the verses than you will find on his previous radio hits.
My personal favorite song on the tape is track 3 entitled “Shanyah.”
This is the song where he goes into the most detail about his sorrow over the loss of his brother. He uses a much different melodic approach than he normally does and the pain in his voice cannot be ignored. The line that touched me the most on the album was from “8 Figures” where he mourns, “I would trade everything just to see big brother get up.” In the title track, Baby talks about how close his brother and him were and that even though G is done, Baby will always keep his name alive.
I thoroughly enjoyed how the tape had so many messages that took you down different lanes. In addition to grieving the loss of G, the EP covers mental health and the importance of voting on “Gucci Peacot.” I give Kirk credit for the all-around execution of this project. When I heard it, I couldn’t believe it was the same artist that gave us “Suge” just last year.
But this just goes to show that the best of the best are able to adapt to their circumstances. Kirk says that losing his brother opened his eyes to mental health awareness and he has now taken on a lead role as a mental health advocate. No matter who you are or what you have, you can still be suffering greatly. I think it was great that he ended the project with this song, “More Money More Problems” because it exemplifes that money doesn’t solve everything. We’re all people and we should all just treat each other like such.