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If it feels like just yesterday when Lil Baby came onto the scene, it's because that statement isn't too far from the truth.
His debut studio album Harder Than Ever was released in May 2018 and came at a moment where the rapper was going through a meteoric rise in such a short span of time. After already collaborating with Quality Control labelmates Quavo of Migos and Lil Yachty, Lil Baby was propelled to a whole new level of recognition, thanks to the Drake-assisted track "Yes Indeed."
Lil Baby didn't waste time sitting on the success of Harder Than Ever, releasing Drip Harder with friend and frequent collaborator Gunna just five months later, and the mixtape Street Gossip shortly thereafter.
As he takes inventory of the wild journey that has led him to where he is today in the Fall 2019 issue of XXL, Lil Baby reveals that Young Thug saw something special in him early on, and went above and beyond to jumpstart his rap career by offering to pay him whatever he would normally make from hustling just so he could get in the studio.
"Young Thug, he gave me all the jewels," he recalls at the 3:20 mark in the video up top. "He literally paid me to leave the neighborhood. [He said], 'Bruh you can rap, you got it. You could be next. You gotta leave the 'hood... I'ma pay you to come to the studio.'"
Lil Baby's potential was actualized when the 24-year-old rapper remembers how Gucci Mane was vying to ink him to his label after hearing a snippet of his song on Instagram, but his efforts were rebuffed by Thugger.
"I go to the studio and I make a little song but I put the little clip on Instagram and when I put it on my Instagram, Gucci Mane commented under like, 'I'mma sign him.'" Lil Baby recalled. "And Thug was like, 'He already signed to me.'"
Young Thug has been having a big year. He dropped off his debut studio album So Much Fun back in August. The album, which boasted features from 21 Savage, Lil Keed, Quavo, Juice Wrld, Nav, J. Cole, and others, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.