Show & Prove: BabyDrill
Words: William E. Ketchum III
Editor’s Note: This story appears in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Not too many rising artists had their first tour overseas as an opening act for 21 Savage, received a congratulatory call from Future about their music moving around Atlanta, and fielded Instagram messages from singer Miley Cyrus, The Kid Laroi and Yeat asking to collaborate on new songs. Yet that’s the case for 22-year-old rapper BabyDrill. The ATL native has been rapping for less than three years, but his kill-streak rhymes and relentless intensity—along with a controversial backstory—have his buzz red hot.

“A lot of people are like, they’ve been dreaming [about rap] since they were a kid,” BabyDrill tells XXL on a January phone call from Atlanta. “It’s been their passion their whole life. I’d be lying if I said some crazy shit like that. It was more so for me and my partners to listen to, but more people gravitated to it. I just went ahead to go try it.”

DelQuristo Wilson grew up on Atlanta’s Westside, hanging in the streets to stay out of his home with his mother and three sisters. “I listened to people like Young Thug, 21, Future, people like that,” he shares. “Everybody’s always gonna listen to music while moms is cleaning up the house. That’s what I grew up on.”

BabyDrill got arrested at age 15 for armed robbery and was sent off to boot camp for nine months, a place he says provided lessons on how to stay focused and manage his anger. After graduating high school, the future hip-hop artist enrolled at Atlanta Tech Trade School for welding to satisfy his mother’s wishes, but dropped out months later.

His rap goals were marginal before he began spending more time with his mentor, Young Nudy. BabyDrill is unclear about when he first met Nudy, but he insists that their relationship precedes his music career. “I’ve learned a lot,” Drill says of Nudy’s good advice. “Family comes first, no matter what. Save your money, ’cause your money’s gonna save you.”

BabyDrill began rapping as a fun way to pass the time with the homies. He adopted the name Cristo4L when appearing on Nudy’s 2021 track “One in the Head” with 4L Quan and began releasing songs soon after. The rap newcomer smartly changed his name to BabyDrill in 2022, a move designed to make him stand apart from the 4L brand that Nudy had already established. “It was my first step in people getting to know me for me,” Drill adds. He released his first mixtape, Mr. Body Dropper, in 2021, and began building a reputation in Atlanta.

In March of 2022, BabyDrill unleashed “32 Freestyle,” a cut that found him dropping energetic, violent bars over a spacey horror flick of a beat by producer WhatItDoFlip. While the rapping rookie’s music was already doing well in the city, earning him club performances and walkthroughs, that track put more eyes and ears in his direction. But interest in his music catapulted that spring when he was charged with murder.

“People already knew me, but I’m a drill rapper, and around that time, I got locked up for a body,” he reveals. “I guess [people thought], ‘He’s living what he raps.’ I had the whole city before I got locked up. When I got locked up, it started making an impact in other places.”

BabyDrill was in a jail cell for six months and had to hear about the increasing popularity of “32 Freestyle” and other tracks from inside. A supportive phone call from Future while Drill was locked up lifted his spirits. During his incarceration, the aspiring artist also officially signed his deal with Paradise East Records—the label home to Young Nudy—in 2022. Once Drill was released on house arrest that same year, he completed around 700 songs. “I record shit to get off my chest, and around that time there was a lot of shit on my chest,” he expresses. “So, I just talk to the mic like therapy.”

BabyDrill beat his murder charge in 2022, circumstances that he refuses to address now under advice from his lawyer. With that behind him, he hit the ground running. The rhymer released his second mixtape, Drill Season, in November of 2022, and situated his passport within a month of his exit. In the spring of the following year, he signed with RCA Records. Then, Drill dropped his Madman tape last June and landed a spot on 21 Savage’s European tour in November of 2023. He continued his solo winning streak with the February release of his latest project, ScoreGod.

KJ Jadav, Senior VP of A&R at RCA Records, admires BabyDrill’s curiosity and his savvy in terms of changing his name and building his buzz. “You see a lot of kids who get it fast, and they think they know it all, and think they can just do whatever they want,” Jadav says. “He’s actually the opposite. He will ask questions about everything. He’s really engaged into what he’s doing. I wouldn’t say it was something the label did. He put in that work independently.”

In addition to his work, BabyDrill has also become an in-demand special guest. Quavo’s “Stain” featuring fellow ATL rapper Hunxho and The Kid Laroi’s “What’s the Move” with Future, to name a few. Drill also returned the favor to Latto by joining her on “Issa Party” last year after she put a verse on his Drill Season track “Freak.” Now, he’s got unreleased cuts on the way with Yeat, Fridayy, Trippie Redd, Moneybagg Yo and Miley Cyrus. Drill confirms he’s also working with Drake, who offered his coveted cosign by sharing that he listens to BabyDrill for meditation. “I just want to make sure it’s the one for me,” BabyDrill says of his collaboration with Drake. “I don’t want to cross over early, but I want to show people that I’m also versatile.”

Between his persistent solo records and diverse guest features, BabyDrill has plenty from his short career to be proud of. But he insists that this is just the beginning. He respects the Atlanta icons he listened to growing up and thinks he has what it takes to follow in their footsteps of success.

“People tend to let shit happen, and they get comfortable quick,” he conveys. “If I was to get where [21] Savage is, and I’ve been rapping for three years, it may feel fast, but right now, I’m still on the grind to keep working.”

His grind don’t stop.

Listen to BabyDrill's ScoreGod

Read BabyDrill's Show & Prove interview in the Spring 2024 issue of XXL Magazine, on newsstands now. The new issue also includes the cover story with Gunna and conversations with Metro BoominDanny BrownTeezo Touchdown42 DuggJim Jones and Maino a.k.a. Lobby BoyzThat Mexican OT, 41Rapsody, actress La La AnthonyBigXthaPlugRob49Reuben Vincent, singer Tyla and producer Tate Kobang. There's also a look at how social networking has a chokehold on rappers' feelings, how hip-hop in 2024 is experiencing more wins than losses, and the ways in which kid rappers are thriving thanks to social media.

See Photos of Gunna's XXL Magazine Spring 2024 Issue Cover Story

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