Doc Captures His Rise With Help From Young Thug, Gunna & Drake

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Lil Baby took a massive risk when he finally gave up on the streets to pursue a career in music. He had a steady cash flow and a near-mythical reputation in Atlanta that could potentially be tarnished by a weak pen game. But in America, there are few routes out of the trap of poverty, and selling drugs only lasts so long. In the new documentary from Karam Gill, Untrapped, fans will get an inside look at how one of hip-hop’s biggest names was able to ascend from the streets of Atlanta and perform at the Grammy awards.

The film premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday night with the rapper himself, as well as Quality Control co-founders Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “P” Thomas in attendance. The 90-minute documentary boasts interviews with Young Thug, Gunna, Drake, and more.

Atlanta is a crucial backdrop for the story of Untrapped. After a brief flash forward to the Baby we know now, Gill takes things back to the city to set the scene for the artist’s rise. The audience learns of the 1996 Olympic Games, for which the city displaced many low-income families to build stadiums for the event. We hear one victim ask why entire lives must be uprooted for a few weeks of competition. Additionally, an excerpt from President Joe Biden’s infamous 1993 crime bill speech is played. It all builds context to a pivotal moment later in the film when Baby’s “The Bigger Picture” is addressed.

“We’ve been going through the same shit, decade after decade,” Baby says. “I’m just [the] new generation to experience it.”

Lil Baby untrapped still“Untrapped” still – provided by publicist

A key theme throughout Untrapped is growth. Long before Baby was using his music to address social justice causes, before he even cared to become a rapper, he was fresh off of a prison sentence and looking to get back into a life of crime.

Young Thug was among his friends seeking to deter him from the quick money of selling drugs and steer him towards music. In one of the most heartbreaking moments from the film, Thug recalls pleading with Baby to stay away from street crime.

“Nothing’s gonna come out of what you’re doing but prison or death,” he says.

The moment hits hard knowing the tough road Thug, Gunna, and the rest of YSL are facing in the wake of the sweeping 56-count indictment against the group.

As Untrapped marches on and Baby’s career begins to get more hectic, so does the documentary. Things can’t help but to feel a bit bloated when so much is happening within a 90-minute runtime. Baby’s role as a father, his relationship with the late Atlanta rapper Lil Marlo, the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, and much more is compressed into just the second act. The result is a slight feeling of whiplash between topics.

lil baby untrapped press till

“Untrapped” still – provided by publicist

Baby’s since-certified triple platinum album, My Turn, was released in 2020 but snubbed at the following Grammy Awards. The incident makes for a strong recentering to give Untrapped back its focus by the third act. The Recording Academy has long had a controversial relationship with Black artists and just as Michael Jackson, DMX, and Kendrick Lamar have experienced before, Baby was once again the latest to be “going through the same shit.” It feels like a thematic culmination of the entire documentary through that point, bringing together Baby’s efforts for social justice as well as his newfound popularity as a rapper all into one cohesive idea.

While fans of Baby’s music will certainly enjoy Untrapped, the portrait of a man born to the streets, reaching the top of the music industry, and realizing family is what matters most, boasts universal appeal. While there are times when it feels like Baby’s talents are being presented with slight embellishment, it’s hard to walk away from Untrapped without an appreciation for the artist’s work.

Untrapped: The Story of Lil Babywill be available on August 26 on Amazon Prime.

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