Review | BabyTron is more than meets the eye


Every rapper contains multitudes, but BabyTron has layers. He’s like an Everlasting Gobstopper whose outermost surface involves rhyming in a low-joy deadpan so mesmerizing, it currently stands as one of rap’s coolest head fakes. It conceals his next layer, wit and absurdity, captured in an effusion of playtime lyrics about cartoons, NBA stars, sports cars, video games, misdemeanor fantasias and pharmacological fun times. But seemingly at his core, this young Michigan rapper is a technician — a detail-oriented blabbermouth prone to rhyming eight consecutive lines or more, frequently adopting lyrical premises that allow him to cycle through numbers or the letters of the alphabet. So to review: Inside the stoic is a comedian, and inside the comedian is a diligent rap student with a rhyming dictionary and a calculator.

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This all seemed evident onstage Wednesday night at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, where BabyTron added a sartorial layer to the mix — big coat, big sunglasses, big fountain of hair spouting out the backside of a baseball cap pulled low over the eyes. Never let ’em see you sweat, right? Or smile. Or wink. Or use any facial musculature that might signal what’s really going on inside the Gobstopper. Which means BabyTron kept a straight face throughout the entirety of “Crash Yo Whip Music,” his voice doing seriously propulsive work as he told a simile-rich ascension story about going from being “toasted like paninis,” to feasting on “linguine,” to haunting a mansion “like Luigi,” then through an interlude involving a “squeegee,” a “bikini,” a swig of “Fiji” and a slant-rhyme metaphor about NBA Hall of Famer Dirk “Nowitski,” to ultimately feeling “like da Vinci” while “looking at my bank account, someone come and pinch me.”

He was dashing up the mountain of life the way a kid climbs a jungle gym, and even if it didn’t look like he was enjoying it much, of course he was. Stand-up comedians don’t laugh at their own jokes. Magicians don’t gasp at their own tricks. BabyTron certainly doesn’t need to have all the fun the rest of us are having. Even his team of hype men spent the majority of the show standing sentinel at the front edge of the stage, barely half-nodding to the beat. They looked like they were waiting for the bus.

As for everyone else in the audience, they finally seemed to realize the bus wasn’t coming roughly halfway through the set during “Zap Zone,” an energizing duet between BabyTron and the wild-style Milwaukee rapper Certified Trapper, each of their verses punctuated with riveting eighth-note hand claps. As the assembled flock eagerly raised their hands overhead to clap along, BabyTron posited himself as a shepherd of souls and an aggravated driver in the same ribbon of breath: “Honking like a meanie in that ’ghini, catch me Lamb’ pushing.”

There was more low-key razzle-dazzle, too. “A2Z” gave BabyTron the opportunity to alphabetize his brags as if “Sesame Street” were rated M for mature, while “Ex” — from his new album “Case Dismissed” — produced a list of hexes cast by a scorned lover. “I hope mosquitoes bite her back where she can’t reach,” BabyTron rapped. “I hope she grabs the last slice of pizza and drops it.” Unsurprisingly, he didn’t sound like a jilted hater so much as an inspired motormouth brainstorming bad fortunes. Let all those other rappers’ hearts bleed. BabyTron’s mind is at work.


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