Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby is a stylized and meaningful profile of one of today’s signature voices in the music industry.
Amazon’s original documentary Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby was released on August 26, 2022.
Streaming services have served up a buffet of documentaries profiling great musicians’ rise (and sometimes fall) over the past decade. Many, though, have not received this treatment so quickly and so rapidly as the ascent of Lil Baby.
The R&B artist and songwriter has taken the nation by storm since his album’s staying power on the Billboard charts in 2018. Even since the pandemic struck, My Turn was one of the most popular albums in America. From his debut mixtape, Perfect Timing, to his platinum debut album Harder Than Ever, his southern-infused rap style holds your attention and captures your imagination.
Lil Baby also exposed a nation of critics that are overrepresented today, the ones with old, white, and northeast attitudes. The kind that wouldn’t know a good track unless it was thrown at them while attached to a free pair of promotional Beats headphones.
Dominique Amani Jones, AKA Lil Baby, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, then raised in the Oakland city neighborhood. His rise to fame has never been an auspicious route to the top. Raised by a single parent since he was two, he dropped out of high school in ninth grade to deal drugs and was incarcerated for two years. What was ridiculous then and is even more so now is that it was for selling marijuana.
Is there more telling evidence of socioeconomic disparity in this country than a white guy being able to deal some weed with a state license, but a black man will be incarcerated for it? Why? Because they will not be able to qualify for that license for selling some weed a couple of years prior. (Watch Freddy Bathwate’s Grass is Greener for a greater appreciation of the subject matter).
Directed by Karam Gill (Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine) who is a talent who finds pop culture figures and looks at them through a lens of social justice issues, here, Gill views Lil Baby’s popularity and the attitudes of music criticism pre-Covid and Black Lives Matter. He would also absorb personal attacks on this style derived from the culture and community he grew up in. Gill also views racial disparity in the Atlanta area and how the megastar handles his fame by lending a voice to justice issues.
Is Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby a puff piece? Sure, but so are most documentaries on stars these days. However, as entertainment, that also views the uphill claim for not only fame but respect. (Another good example of this is the J-Lo film, Halftime on Netflix). Lil Baby’s greatest hits tell his story. This gives loyal followers, and even tepid fans, a mindset of where he comes from as a songwriter. This is stylized and meaningful profiling for Lil Baby fans while also broad enough to appeal to mass audiences.
What did you think of Amazon’s original documentary Untrapped: The Story of Lil Baby? Comment below.