“DaBaby is in the building!” The anticipation for the “Rockstar” rapper’s arrival had been somewhat palpable at Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub in Las Vegas on Saturday, but not like a typical concert.
The doors opened at 11 a.m. and the crowd was happily occupied by the crystal blue pools, floating beach balls and seemingly endless sea of bare skin. The DJ played a non-stop, chest-pumping playlist that included songs such as 2Pac’s “How Do You Want It” and Juvenile’s 1998 anthem “Back That Azz Up” featuring Lil Wayne and Mannie Fresh (which he played three times in an obvious attempt to get women to oblige to the song’s demands).
With DaBaby scheduled to hit the stage at 3:30 p.m., fans were growing restless as the clock inched toward 4 and he had yet to show his face. But moments later, the 30-year-old chart-topper took the stage, while the crowd — soaked in sun and bathing in alcohol — erupted in cheers. The bass shook the red-and-white cabanas as the Drai’s bottle service continued to flow.
Wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates hat, a white T-shirt and black and yellow shorts, DaBaby breezed through his five-times-platinum 2020 hit “Rockstar” (originally featuring Roddy Ricch) and other songs such as the Megan Thee Stallion-assisted “Cry Baby.” Despite the electric energy peppering the crowd, DaBaby often rapped over his own vocal tracks, muddying the sound.
It also threw into question whether DaBaby learned much of anything from the Rolling Loud Miami debacle in 2021.
While performing at the annual festival, he made several comments perceived to be both homophobic and sexist, among them: “[If] you didn’t show up today with HIV/AIDS or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that’ll make you die in two to three weeks, then put a cellphone light in the air… Ladies, if your pussy smell like water, put a cellphone light in the air. Fellas, if you ain’t sucking dick in the parking lot, put a cellphone light in the air.” His off-color commentary caused multiple high-profile festivals — including Lollapalooza, Day N Vegas, Summer Jam and Austin City Limits — to cut him from their lineups as he flip-flopped between being apologetic and attempting to defend his actions.
While DaBaby left the homophobic commentary behind this time, the blatant misogyny was alive and well during his set at Drai’s. “I don’t discriminate,” DaBaby said as he encouraged women in the audience to “pull your titties out if you love DaBaby.” He repeated the directive at least three times, but save for a few women in the front row, most of the women ignored his request, and the crowd was mostly shielded from any graphic nudity. After all, there was no shortage of scantily-clad bodies and already very little left to the imagination.
DaBaby’s daytime romp precedes the 64th annual Grammys, taking place tonight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Charlotte, North Carolina native is up for two gilded trophies in the album of the year category, thanks to his having made featured cameos on Justin Bieber’s “Justice (Triple Chucks Deluxe)” project and Kanye West’s “Donda.” His smash hit of the past year, though — the remix of Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” that also had him as a featured guest — was apparently not submitted for Grammy consideration by Lipa’s camp, after she publicly repudiated his homophobic comments.