5 Things We Learned – Billboard
The world premiere of Untrapped: The Lil Baby Story took place at New York’s Beacon Theater on Saturday night (June 11), day four of the 2022 Tribeca Festival, followed by a special six-song set.
Directed by Karam Gill and produced by Amazon Studios, as well as Gill’s MGX Creative and Quality Films, Not trapped requires dissection. The 90-minute documentary is a raw insight into why Lil Baby (real name Dominique Jones) has grown to resonate so deeply since his debut mixtape in 2017, Perfect timing.
Archival footage chronicling the Atlanta rapper’s childhood, his teenage years as a revered drug dealer, and his already historic, quality control-backed rise contrasts with Baby’s real-time reflection and a number impressive number of interviewees. Not trapped portrays a multidimensional young man who, against all odds, thrives in a world programmed to diminish and oppress the black man. In the end, it is clear that if anyone can convince the masses to humanize the idolized, it is Baby.
“I’ll never be trapped again,” Baby says in the film’s final line. “This is just the beginning.”
Here are five takeaways from what’s been captured from Baby’s journey so far.
Young Thug, Gunna and Drake make cameos
The audience of nearly 3,000 erupted in on-screen appearances from Drake, Gunna and Young Thug. Young Thug and Gunna’s dating hit harder in light of their recent RICO indictments. Young Thug talked about the advice he used to give Baby, his childhood friend, and the consequences of being so entrenched in the streets. “Nothing will come of what you do except prison or death,” he says. “There’s no such thing as ‘you made it’ the way you go.”
I talked to @youngthug He is in a good mood 🙏🏽
— Little baby (@lilbaby4PF) June 7, 2022
Drake, meanwhile, showered his “Yes Indeed” collaborator with praise. “I think he’s already established himself as a super important part of this era, of this generation,” the Toronto icon said, noting separately that he and Baby are due to hit the festival and club circuit. after My turnbefore the pandemic hit. “This guy is just in an area that you have to respect.”
Baby being snubbed by the Recording Academy is fully addressed
Lil Baby’s chart-topping album My turn was not nominated for the 63rd Grammys at all, which Motown CEO Ethiopia Habtemariam compared to Michael Jackson and DMX being snubbed, in the 1980s and 1990s, respectively. Because of this, Quality Control co-founders Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas didn’t feel The Recording Academy deserved Baby to perform at the 2021 ceremony.
Footage of a meeting between the three at Quality Control Studios is shown, during which Baby expressed his desire to continue. “I feel like acting is bigger than a prize,” Baby told them, quoting all the people — including his peers in prison — who would be encouraged by hearing “The Bigger Picture” on a universal stage. He didn’t want his message, his power, muted. (“The Bigger Picture,” a June 2020 protest anthem in response to police brutality and racism, received two nominations.)
For Lil Baby, fame has nothing to do with fatherhood
Not trapped opened with Baby in the private moments before a performance, which we later saw was the Grammys, expressing his lifelong vision of becoming a millionaire and a leader. (“I don’t know how…but I was going to make it.”) Moments later, we’re taken to Baby around Christmas 2020, where 6-year-old Jason asked his dad for two of everything. Baby said he ‘didn’t want to be a holiday dad’ to his Jason and Loyal, 3, and let history repeat itself, as he never had a relationship with his dad. In one scene, Jason counted $200,000 in cash with Baby. He later dropped an item down a flight of stairs on his way to the 63rd Grammys and adorably proclaimed, “It’s okay; you’re rich!” Baby revealed that Jason often asks him, “Did you do that with your daddy? to be finished: “I could screw up, and he could be like me.”
Baby reflects the good, the bad and the ugly of America
At one point, Motown’s Habtemariam said, “Baby represents the American dream.” No one can question the validity of this statement, and no one can question Baby’s awareness that he is the exception. The 27-year-old’s multi-platinum discography is his activism, but he doesn’t stop there. Not trapped poignantly highlighted Baby’s commitment to using his platform for social good, including the decision to pay for George Floyd’s daughter’s 7th birthday party. The documentary also shed light on systemic racism, including the displacement that occurred around the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, President Joe Biden’s infamous Crime Bill speech in 1993 and Baby’s time in prison. “We went through the same s—, decade after decade,” Baby said, as the doc tackled the ingredients of “The Bigger Picture.” “I am fair [the] new generation to experience it.
It all goes back to Atlanta
While Baby escaped his perilous neighborhood in Atlanta’s West End — despite his initial reluctance to quickly ditch drug-stained money to try his hand at hip-hop — he never retired. In the film, a 62-year-old West End resident named Joe called Baby the best rapper in the world, dripping with pride. And in one particularly heartwarming scene, Baby ran into an old friend’s mother at a local convenience store. She told Baby that her son grew up to join the Navy. “Tell him Dominique asked about him,” Baby insisted. She asked for his last name. Baby smiled. “Dominique Jones. He’ll know who I am, though. Last June’s joint album with Lil Durk was titled maybe The voice of heroesbut Baby is the voice of the people.