July 25, 2021

Lil Baby owned 2020. Wait until you hear about his 2021

If you want to talk with Lil Baby in the pandemic-darkened winter of 2020, you have to go through some formidable security.

Outside a recording studio on the southern edge of Hollywood, in the alley of a windowless concrete bunker of a building, a security guard in a black suit and earpiece first took a Times writer’s temperature behind a floor-to-ceiling wall of plexiglass. Guests signed a thick waiver stating that they haven’t had any COVID-19 symptoms, freeing the studio from liability if they catch the virus inside.

Hands were sanitized, masks proffered and an assistant briskly dragged newcomers through a hallway and parked them in an all-white, furniture-less room where a HEPA air filter hummed at full speed. Members of Baby’s team nervously flitted from room to room — a manager, a designer, a few reps working with the rapper’s Quality Control label (the firm that helped break Migos and City Girls). It felt like entering a laboratory working on something dangerous, or maybe a Scandinavian jail.

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