The History of Playboi Carti's Baby Voice

Playboi Carti keeps using a high-pitched flow: the baby voice. Beginning with the earliest stages in its evolution, this is a brief history of Baby Voice Carti.

Playboi Carti baby voice
Complex Original

Image via Nick Sultana/Complex Original

Playboi Carti baby voice

Since Playboi Carti emerged with buzzing songs like "Broke Boi" and "Fetti," his style and persona has evolved in unpredictably wonderful ways. Whether it's his new blonde hair, his surprising guest feature on Solange's "Almeda," or his online typing style that reads like a cooler version of your old AIM away message, he finds ways to keep us guessing.

Carti's latest trick might be his best to date: Baby Voice Carti. Every time he does this, he leaves his normal vocal range and enters into a higher pitched flow that can only really be described as a "baby voice."

Naturally, Baby Voice Carti has been met with mixed feelings. The uncultured among us have written it off as "trash," but others marvel at its originality. The flow's polarizing nature ensures that whenever Carti does break out the baby voice, it's going to cause discussion (and memes). 

So, where did the flow come from? It's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment that Baby Voice Carti was born, but if you dig back into his catalog, you'll see he's been playing around with variations of the flow for years. By 2019, we've reached the point that Carti goes viral every time he uses it, so it's time to look back at the origins of the baby voice. This isn't an exhaustive list of every instance he's ever used the flow, but it will give you a look at where it came from and where it might be heading next. Beginning with very early stages in its evolution, this is a brief history of Playboi Carti's baby voice.

October 28, 2016, "Telephone Calls"

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Years before Baby Voice Carti fully arrived, he gave us a glimpse at the unique style in 2016. Playboi Carti's biggest contribution to ASAP Mob's Cozy Tapes Vol. 1 came on "Telephone Calls," and he used the opportunity to experiment with a small first step to the full-blown baby voice. One staple of Baby Voice Carti is its higher pitch, and another is its slurred pronunciation of lyrics, so we can point to his chorus on this single as a checkpoint. Carti's voice is slightly high-pitched and slightly slurred. Before you walk, you have to crawl, and a very early form of Baby Voice Carti is crawling all over "Telephone Calls."

August 25, 2017, "Blowin Minds"

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Carti played a slightly larger role on Cozy Tapes Vol. 2, and on "Blowin' Minds" he delivered a barrage of ad-libs, as well a verse with his inflected vocals. Sprinkled between his signature "whet" ad-libs pops up a unique "bee!" sound. It's unclear what exact word it is (and perhaps it's not a word at all and merely a feeling) but the concept of losing language and going for the feeling becomes more apparent the as we take more small steps to full Baby Voice Carti mode.

May 11, 2018, "Flatbed Freestyle"

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Baby Voice Carti's performance on "Flatbed Freestyle" is his version of Lebron James in the 2016 NBA Finals. Pure excellence. "Flatbed Freestyle" has spun off into countless viral moments since its release, and nearly a year later, it still evokes pure happiness. The baby voice shows up in other places on Die Lit, but it was this song that cemented the baby voice as true musical treasure.

May 11, 2018, "No Time"

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Carti doesn't just use his baby voice on energetic songs. He finds plenty of use for it on the slow-burning Die Lit track, "No Time." It opens with Carti testing out his vocals in a lower tone before diving into the melodic baby voice that makes up the bulk of the song. Where other tracks have baby voice moments that feel like they're still being worked through in the recording booth in real time, "No Time" finds Carti in a different space as he sounds relatively composed.

July 10, 2018, "Cancun" (Snippet)

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As the hype of Baby Voice Carti was growing after the release of Die Lit, the internet was blessed with a snippet of a music video by AWGE videographer Hidji. The short clip finds Carti in a parking garage, filming a music video of sorts to a song unofficially named "Cancun." The viral snippet will be forever remembered for the memes that came from the moment Baby Voice Carti rubbed his stomach with thousands of foreign currency falling to the ground as he said, "My stummy hurt." The legend of Baby Voice Carti continues.

October 19, 2018, "Get Dripped"

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Pure Baby Voice Carti pops up on Lil Yachty's 2018 album, Nuthin 2 Prove, with "Get Dripped," and he did not hold back. Baby Voice Carti is full of energy, with an almost 50-50 split of decipherable English lyrics and something else entirely. As a bonus, we get plenty of "whet" ad-libs and other sounds for added texture. Carti's effortless flow leaves many of his words half-pronounced, coupled a higher vocal tone: a textbook example of Baby Voice Carti.

March 1, 2019, "Almeda"

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Solange delivered her 2019 album without listing featured vocalists, so it came as quite a surprise when halfway through the album we caught another instance of Baby Voice Carti. Previously, we only heard the flow within the scope of rap, so to have it show up in a formal album setting was a test—and Carti aced it. He even blessed Solange's verse with a few sporadic "whet" ad-libs as he waited for his second verse to go full out. Perfect.

April 18, 2019, "Pissy Pamper / Kid Cudi"

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Playboi Carti's appearance on Young Nudy's "Kid Cudi / Pissy Pamper" represents a turning point for an evolved version of Baby Voice Carti as he ramps up his vocals to an even higher pitch and stretches language to new limits. On first listen, his frantic cadence and lack of pronunciation make it difficult to decipher Carti's actual lyrics. But that doesn't even really matter at this point in the evolution of the baby voice. Naturally, this has already spawned countless memes and viral moments. Where will Baby Voice Carti take things next? We'll be following along each step of the way.

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