Album: My Turn (Deluxe)
Producers: Section 8 and Noah
Lil Baby was at an Atlanta protest when he told Councilman Antonio Brown, “This is what matters,” as they marched down the street with their fists in the air. Soon after, he went to the studio and encapsulated the anger, fear, and praxis of a fight that defined the cultural zeitgeist of 2020 on “The Bigger Picture.” His decree that “We ain’t takin’ no more, let us go from them chains” was one of the most resonant sentiments of the year, paralleling the demands of millions of protesters who stormed the streets while rallying against the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many more Black people.
Near the beginning of the song, Lil Baby rhymes that police brutality has “been going on for too long to get even.” His stream-of-consciousness appraisal of America vocalizes the despair of dealing with the age-old problem of white supremacy, which still doesn’t have a practical, concrete solution. He captures the confoundedness of the Black experience: navigating life the best way we know how, hoping we don’t inspire the next song about murder at the hands of the state. Section 8 and Noah’s stirring production captures the tension of the moment, and Lil Baby darts through with a flurry of thoughts, seemingly trying to outpace the cascading hi-hats. After pointing out that “they killin’ us for no reason,” he asks, “We just some products of our environment, how the fuck they gon’ blame us?” Lil Baby has always explored his hardships through song, but this is his most forthright moment of putting the real enemy in the crosshairs.
Later in the year, Lil Baby said he was going to “back up off politics” in his music, and on “The Bigger Picture,” he qualified, “I can’t lie like I don’t rap about killing and dope.” But contrary to the misconception of “conscious rap,” songs that touch on killing and dope are political, too. They embody Nina Simone’s famous pronouncement that “artists should reflect the times” in their work. It’s America’s purposeful failure of Black people that manifests not just police brutality, but the cycle of generational poverty that Lil Baby laments on “The Bigger Picture” when he raps, “The way that we livin’ is not getting better, you gotta know how to survive.” For Lil Baby, and so many of his rap peers, all roads lead back to “The Bigger Picture.” It’s a quintessential track of the movement, and it deserves to be recognized as the best song of 2020. —Andre Gee