Hip-Hop

Lil Baby Talks 'My Turn' Scholarship & Likely No. 1 Debut: 'Numbers Ain't Really That Important'

Lil Baby
Kenneth Cappello

Lil Baby

Lil Baby never imagined he’d ever walk the halls of his former high school, Booker T. Washington High School, again. And, he certainly never thought he’d return to the school on the heels of potentially his first no. 1 album to deliver a $150,000 check to help students attend college.

“From the time I left here to now, I’ve had a crazy journey,” the rapper, who stopped attending school around 10th grade, told Billboard. “Just to be able to come back on a positive note and actually touch this ground again and see some of these faces again... I can’t even explain it. I was once in a state where I knew for sure I wasn’t ever coming back here.

“To be able to come, give back and be something, and perform for children, that means everything to me,” he added.

During a program at the Atlanta high school yesterday (March 4), Lil Baby, with the support of Amazon Music’s Rap Rotation, Quality Control Music, Wolfpack Global and Motown Records launched the “My Turn” Scholarship fund. While the rapper, who released the album My Turn last week, said he’s not sure how the funds will be distributed yet, his goal is to help high-achieving students at the school attend college. “A majority of the students in these neighborhoods, when they have good grades most of them don’t have support. They don’t have a family who can afford to [send them] to a good college or the college they want to go to,” he explained. He says he hopes to donate to the fund annually. 

During the program, Lil Baby performed his hit single “Woah,” as well as snippets of “Close Friends” and “Freestyle” to a gymnasium of screaming students. For the latter song, senior Vachon Raye served as his hype man. Prior to the performance, the rapper congratulated Raye — the first student to be accepted into an Ivy League in the school’s history — on his admission to Dartmouth College and invited him to attend one of his concerts. (Lil Baby isn’t the first celebrity to attend Booker T. Washington High School, the first public school for African Americans in Georgia; other famous attendees include Martin Luther King, Jr., Lena Horne and Young Thug)

“It’s crazy that these people did amazing things for their time and their people,” Dan Sims, an associate superintendent for Atlanta Public Schools, said of the notable alumni. “To watch these students respond to Lil Baby, their artist -- and I love him, too -- is just so gratifying. We’re thinking years from now, what will the history say about Booker T. Washington High School. There will be this story about Lil Baby, Dominique Jones, who gave back, started this scholarship fund, attended this school [previously] and gave to the lives of other individuals. That is huge for us.”

“Who knows what seeds were planted today as it relates to not just seeing him as a performer, but as a philanthropist,” Sims added. “I hope [this] puts some positive pressure on other rappers who came from some of these same classrooms and hallways to just give back a little bit.”

Lil Baby released My Turn last week and, according to industry forecasters, the album poised to be the rapper’s first no. 1 on the Billboard 200. The album is expected to top next week’s chart with more than 170,000 equivalent album units earned in the U.S. in the week ending March 5.

Lil Baby admitted he was excited about the prospect of his first No. 1 album, but he also explained for any other potential rappers in attendance that his connection with fans is more important to him than numbers. “Numbers ain’t really that important," he offered. "They are when you go No. 1... but, for the most part, don’t try to think about the numbers. Just try to go as hard as you can go."