Track Meet: Lil Baby & Lil Durk Are "The Voice Of The Heroes" With James Harden
In the "Track Meet" series, we break down albums or projects track by track to show where sports and hip-hop meet.
Lil Baby has captured the attention of the country by fusing trap production with thoughtful reflections on society and manhood. The Atlanta star recently joined Kirk Franklin for "We Win," the anthemic first song for "Space Jam: A New Legacy." Lil Durk has also enjoyed an elevated platform, appearing on Drake's "Laugh Now, Cry Later" and carrying his Only The Family label, especially in the wake of King Von's tragic death last year.
The duo combined forces to release the snappy "The Voice of the Heroes," an 18-track effort that features industry heavyweights Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Young Thug and Rod Wave.
"The Voice of the Heroes" also has a unique sports tie because NBA All-Star James Harden is listed as an executive producer. He is well-known as a friend to Lil Baby and spent $300,000 on the rapper's birthday, gifting him with a Prada bag, a Richard Mille watch and some cash.
There aren't an abundance of sports references on "The Voice of the Heroes." Lil Durk actually has zero. But Lil Baby sprinkles in some football and basketball knowledge with their street stories.
"'Bout to switch up a play, that's an audible"
"The Forgiatos twenty-four, this for Kobe"
On the Travis Scott-assisted "Hats Off," Lil Baby compares himself to a quarterback, a true leader who calls the plays and switches it up when he needs to. Perhaps he channels Falcons legend Michael Vick and decides whether to pass the ball or run it himself.
The hook also references the late great Kobe Bryant with Lil Baby saying that he gets 24" Forgiato rims in honor of the Black Mamba's second number. Forgiatos are the creme de la creme of rims, costing thousands of dollars and coming in a wide selection of colors and designs. While he very well might have Forgiatos on other cars, Lil Baby recently posed with his Lamborghini Urus aka Lambo Truck that has custom black and white rims. They look super fresh.
Here's Slim Thug with 30" Forgiato rims on his Escalade. 30 inches. Thirty. Three-Zero. 3-0.
"Who I Want"
"I run Atlanta, get paid like I'm Julio"
"My mama ain't have much, and I wasn't good at no sports, so you know, I had fell to the streets"
On "Who I Want," Lil Durk and Lil Baby slow things down as they woo their women. Toward the end of the song, Lil Baby shares how he wasn't good at sports growing up, so that meant no hoop dreams for him. But he still runs his city just like wide receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons star is actually seeking to get out of the ATL, so this line might date the song, but the man gets paid. His contract guarantees him $15.3 million for the 2021 season and $2 million for next year. So whoever picks him up has to have a bag.
"Man of My Word"
"Lil' bro tryna score, so I gave him a layup"
"Man of My Word" showcases producers DJ Young Pharaoh, IRoccOnTheBeat and Nile Waves channeling Zaytoven on the piano-laden track. It's filled with braggadocious bars about overcoming the streets and the system. Lil Baby says he helps out his lil patnas, comparing himself to a basketball star tossing up a layup.
"I signed up for the streets, not UFC, I ain't gon' tap out"
"Medical" is another change of pace as it's more of a reflective track about the hardships of violence and poverty. Lil Baby declares how resilient he is by saying he didn't sign up for UFC. No matter how hard the fight is, he's not tapping out. Whenever a fighter feels stuck and hopeless, he lets the ref know he gives up by tapping the floor. If you want to watch some of the best tap-outs in Ultimate Fighting, feel free to press play below. I couldn't even get through the first one... the guy's whole head turns blue. He definitely needs medical just like Lil Baby says in the hook.
"Up the Side"
"Swappin' teams like a letterman"
"Coach had told me, 'Run it up the side,' So let's run it up the side"
There are very few Young Thug songs I like. Overall, he just feels obnoxious to me I don't know how to describe it. But this song does make the cut. Thugger has a laid back, effortless vibe that I enjoy. He also says the ladies around him switch teams like they switch letterman jackets, perhaps like LeBron James. He also tosses in a football reference, saying that he was told by a leader he trusts (maybe Quality Control's Coach K?) to run up the side a la Vikings rushing king Adrian Peterson against the Browns.