When DaBaby released his SethInTheKitchen-produced song "Rockstar" featuring Roddy Ricch in April, a month after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic due to the coronavirus outbreak in March, the Charlotte, N.C. rapper knew the song was going to take over. "I already knew what it was as soon as I recorded it," DaBaby says on Nov. 30 during an exclusive interview for XXL magazine's Winter 2020 cover story.

The work DaBaby put in last year—he dropped two albums (BABY ON BABY and the No. 1 Billboard 200-charting KIRK), earned two 2020 Grammy Award nominations for "Suge" and was inducted into the 2019 XXL Freshman Class, among other moments—gave him a forward momentum moving into 2020 despite the hardships that canceled tours and no live performances had on the music industry. The success of songs like "Suge" and "BOP," both released in 2019, helped with that. "The way that I put shit together leading up until the pandemic definitely put me in the position to, right when the pandemic hit, like, I leveled up completely," he shares. "I'm on a, you know what I'm saying, a whole other wave right now."

"Rockstar" arrived on DaBaby's third studio album, BLAME IT ON BABY, released in April, and subsequently took three months to climb to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The guitar-driven track, which DaBaby calls "the song of the year," commanded the No. 1 position for seven non-consecutive weeks. He flexes his melodic delivery on the record and boasts about what he's earned when no one gave him a thing.

"During the pandemic, I've been the longest-lasting artist on Billboard, fo'sho," affirms the 28-year-old rapper, who dropped the deluxe version of BLAME IT ON BABY in August. "So, I feel like I definitely adapted to it and made it happen. I like the results of, you know, the work I put in during the pandemic fo'sho."

In November, the fruits of his labor blossomed when he was recognized for "Rockstar" by the Grammy committee, earning three 2021 Grammy Awards nominations for the song (Record of the Year, Best Melodic Rap Performance, Best Rap Song) and one additional nomination for "BOP" (Best Rap Performance). "It's definitely a major accomplishment," he admits. "And if 'Rockstar' don't win a fuckin' Grammy I give up on the Grammys, you get what I'm saying?"

DaBaby also acknowledges that this is one of the songs he switched up his flow on after receiving criticism from fans for having the same signature delivery in his music over the years.

"I like to fuck with people though and poke at ’em, you know what I'm saying, about the little switching flows shit, but you know, this flow right here is righteous, you know what I mean?" the six-time Grammy-nominated artist maintains. "There ain't nothing I can't do with it. That's why I like to have my fun here and there, you know, let people know that I do this shit."

While experiencing the benefits of having a No. 1 song that took over much of 2020 and spending more time with his family due to quarantine, DaBaby also dealt with a major loss this year when his older brother died from suicide due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound in November. To honor his late brother, the lauded rhymer dropped the EP My Brother's Keeper (Long Live G) that same month. In a year full of ups and downs, his business acumen didn't falter.

As the founder of his own record label, Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment, DaBaby has five artists signed to him: rappers Stunna 4 Vegas, KayyKilo, Wisdom and Rich Dunk, plus DJ K.i.D. DaBaby's own career as an artist is a priority, however, he's also focused on helping these men and women elevate their own careers. In 2025, DaBaby has a vision for where he sees the label's presence in the music industry. "Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment, five years, definitely gonna be like one of the hottest labels in the game," he declares.

Personally, DaBaby has big plans for himself in five years as well. Right now, he's considered one of the best new rappers in the game with the lyrics and charisma to match. However, rapping isn't a lifelong career for DaBaby; cultivating talent is. "Five years, I'ma be retired in five years," he reveals. "I won't be rapping in five years. I won't be rapping. I'll be creating other superstars."

Watch DaBaby open up about the success of his song "Rockstar," his "righteous" flow and plans to retire in five years in this exclusive XXL interview below.

See Photos of XXL Magazine's Winter 2020 Cover Shoot With DaBaby

Check out more from XXL magazine’s Winter 2020 issue including an introduction to DaBaby's Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment label roster, an interview with South Coast Music Group founder Arnold Taylor, who discovered and signed DaBaby, and more.<

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