Earlier this year, when Lil Baby announced his first multi-city tour as a solo headliner, fans were stunned that there weren’t any Atlanta dates. In fact, before the “It’s Only Us” tour began, the Oakland City native quietly canceled 10 dates and dropped Kid LaRoi as an opening act — leading some to speculate about low ticket sales. The canceled dates even led to debates online about whether he can carry his own tour.

Sure, he’s one of the top-selling rappers, but is he a good performer?

At his third annual Lil Baby & Friends Birthday Celebration, the answer was undoubtedly yes. Wednesday night’s show at State Farm Arena proved that he no only has the captivating stage presence, but he has the love from friends and industry peers to help him along the way. For the rapper, who was born on Dec. 3, the concert was the epitome of a grand birthday party that’d make anyone envious if they weren’t invited.

It must be said that the concert had a 7 p.m. start time and Lil Baby didn’t appear on stage until a few minutes before 10 p.m. (Memphis rapper Gloss Up, one of the supporting acts for the “It’s Only Us” tour, opened the show around 8 p.m. with a 30-minute set that slightly alleviated the long wait). The wait was so perplexing that some fans even wondered if any of his friends would show up at all.

But all the doubt subsided as soon as Lil Baby graced the stage. Suddenly, the long wait didn’t seem to matter anymore as the sold-out crowd rapped along to opening tracks like “Stand on It,” “My Dawg” and “Southside.” Wearing a red leather jacket and pants to match, he seamlessly embodied the persona of a rap superstar who’ll always be adored in Atlanta. And that adoration is reciprocal. The concert felt like a love letter to the Atlanta fans who’ve made Lil Baby one of the biggest rappers in the world.

Last year’s Lil Baby & Friends Birthday Celebration featured appearances from Drake, Lil Yachty and more. This year’s show carried the same level of star power. Rappers like Quavo, Rob49, Hunxho, 2 Chainz and Rylo Rodriguez — who was met with fans rapping every word to his hit “Equal Dirt”— took the stage earlier in the show. In between those sets, Lil Baby continued the momentum by performing songs like “Pure Cocaine” and “Sum 2 Prove.”

Lil Baby held his yearly Birthday Celebration on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 at State Farm Arena. Gloss Up opened the show and DJ Key and DJ Fresh entertained the crowd through the night.
Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journ

icon to expand image

Credit: Robb Cohen for the Atlanta Journ

And if that wasn’t enough, R&B crooner Fridayy, Detroit rappers 42 Dugg and Veeze, 21 Savage and Lil Durk (who performed DJ Khaled’s “Every Chance I Get” with Lil Baby) also hit the stage. The highlight of the night arrived when J. Cole performed hits like “Middle Child” and “No Role Modelz.”

The show ended with final appearances from the City Girls’ Yung Miami and Atlanta singer Jacquees. Dressed in all-black this time, Lil Baby concluded the night with his hit “Freestyle.” But he didn’t even need to perform the song. The crowd performed it for him, rapping each verse with the fervor of knowing that the hit is indeed an anthemic track for Atlanta hip-hop.

Lil Baby is Atlanta rap’s star of the moment. With three no. 1 albums (his latest, “It’s Only Me,” was released in 2022) and more than a dozen top 10 hits under his belt, the 29-year-old rapper has become a household name in less than five years. Wednesday night’s show was a stunning celebration full of surprises that proved the secret to Lil Baby’s skyrocketing success is his unyielding fanbase.

About the Author