The Inside Story on How Interscope Signed Its Next Star, DaBaby
On Jan. 23, Interscope, in partnership with South Coast Music Group, signed 27-year-old rapper DaBaby. Formerly known as Baby Jesus, the Charlotte, N.C., native started rapping at the end of 2014 and dropped his first mixtape online at the start of 2015. In 2016, South Coast CEO Arnold Taylor, who has had a yearslong relationship with Interscope, signed him to his group and by summer 2018 was shopping DaBaby to the majors.
By the time Interscope executive vp urban operations Nicole Wyskoarko and executive vp Joie Manda met him, DaBaby had five mixtapes out and breakout song “21” on the way (which has since garnered 5.4 million on-demand U.S. streams, according to Nielsen Music). “His energy was infectious,” says Wyskoarko. “It matched the music and the visuals.” And though Wyskoarko “always had the feeling” there was growing major label interest in him, and she knew DaBaby was taking other meetings, she insists signing him “just made sense for us,” and wasn’t merely a strike at competitors.
Wyskoarko hired 24-year-old Caroline “Baroline” Diaz as DaBaby’s day-to-day A&R rep. “She has a young, infectious energy, too -- it’s a great fit,” she says. DaBaby already has his follow-up to 2018’s Blank Blank recorded and will attend the NBA’s All-Star Weekend (Feb. 15-17) in his hometown. “He can be a multihyphenate,” says Wyskoarko. “He’s very focused on his craft, from a creative and business perspective. He’s someone we’re very excited to be in business with.”