Age: 27
Last Year’s Rank: N/A

DaBaby was snubbed out of a Best New Artist Grammy nomination this year, but let’s be honest: the Charlotte native is easily the best breakout rapper of 2019. He started the year strong with Baby on Baby in March, highlighted by the hit single “Suge,” which showcased his knack for witty metaphors and punchlines. Just six months later, he returned with Kirk, which went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. DaBaby’s husky raps over simple, booming beats arrived at a time when the industry needs them most. While most rookies are blurring the lines between rap and R&B and making melodic music, DaBaby prefers to power through three-minute songs with vicious and raunchy bars. The one knock against him at this point in his career is that some of his songs end up sounding very similar to each other. But with recent efforts like the introspective Kirk opener, “Intro,” DaBaby proved he has the range to switch things up and stay relevant far past his breakout year. For now, his method is working just fine. Beyond his technical skill, he also possesses a natural charisma that shines through brightly in his Reel Goats-directed music videos, which are comedic and engaging in the same way Ludacris or Busta Rhymes’ visuals were in the early 2000s. DaBaby is the full package—a throwback rap star. It might surprise some to see a newcomer jump to the very top of this list so fast, but his impact is undeniable. In 2019, no artist has more Hot 100 hits than DaBaby. So not only is he rap's Rookie of the Year—even pop powerhouses like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Billie Eilish couldn’t top DaBaby this year. It truly is the year of the Baby—Jessica McKinney

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