Rolling Out

Skilla Baby respects women, hails Detroit’s hip-hop renaissance

Midwestern MC opens up about respecting women and navigating fame

It is a great time to be from Detroit, especially if you’re a fan of hip-hop or football. On the gridiron, the University of Michigan won a national championship and the Detroit Lions were only one game away from Super Bowl LVIII.

In the world of rap, Detroit is in its absolute prime. The city that proudly boasts its status as the birthplace of Eminem, J. Dilla, Royce Da 5’9″ and Big Sean has elevated its influence in the hip-hop space with its new assortment of rappers. Artists like Veeze, Baby Smoove, Rio Da Yung Og, BabyTron, DDG, Bfb Da Packman, Tee Grizzley and Babyface Ray all offer something special. Even EmanuelDaProphet is representing for Christian and inspirational music.

Skilla Baby, however, is not just a standout among Detroit rappers, but rappers in general. He doesn’t dwell on the darker side of the genre, and on his most popular single, “Bae,” rather than objectify or demean women, he celebrates them.

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During a sit-down with rolling out, Skilla Baby discussed his career and his music as he prepares for the release of his newest project, The Coldest, on April 26.

How do you feel about being on rolling out‘s latest cover?

I feel good. As a new artist, up-and-coming, I feel like certain milestones you want to cross off, and being on magazines is one of them for me.

What was the first magazine cover you remember taking notice of?

Rolling Stone.

Who was on that cover?

I don’t remember, but it was probably like Michael Jackson.

Are you on Michael Jackson’s level now that you’re on a cover?

No. Hell nah. I don’t think anyone will ever be on Michael Jackson’s level.

Who’s as famous as Michael Jackson?

Worldwide, LeBron James can go anywhere and be LeBron James. [Lionel] Messi, people like that, the soccer players. People know them worldwide.

The admiration Michael Jackson had as an artist, it’s just like Michael Jordan. Back in the day. Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson were [like] the same person. So, it’s not the fame that’s hard to achieve, it’s the admiration. That level of admiration is crazy. A lot of people know who a lot of artists are. They’re known across the world, but Michael Jackson was the greatest entertainer ever, so the admiration he got was different.

Skilla Baby respects women, hails Detroit's hip-hop renaissance
Photo by Rashad Milligan for rolling out

Did you ever struggle with wanting to be admired as an artist?

Yeah, I wanted to be liked and accepted. But then when I started getting liked and accepted, it was a bit overwhelming sometimes.

In what ways?

You don’t really get personal space.

You recently went viral for having someone’s girlfriend dance on you in front of her boyfriend. How do you deal with the cameras and being in the public eye?

Whatever you say, whatever you do, if you wake up wrong, if you breathe wrong, if you wake up and don’t brush your teeth, anything I do [someone’s watching], but I accept what comes with what I wanted.

Even if you had a Chrysler job and were getting paid the most money you ever made, it still comes with something bad. There are negatives and positives in everything you want to do.

And with all of the scrutiny, you want this lifestyle?

For sure.

Where does your admiration for Black women come from?

I was raised by Black women. My dad always instilled in me, you only have one mom, you will never get another one. My admiration for Black women is just being around Black women and being raised by Black women. The love I got from Black women growing up, I don’t just make songs about them purposely. It’ll be subconscious. Like, I love women. So, I don’t mind saying something nice about a woman.

What is it like to be a part of this booming period of Detroit rap?

It’s refreshing because for a long time, people felt like Detroit had one style. Now [there are] a whole bunch of sounds. You got the Rio sound, you’ve got me with … the witty rap. You got Veeze with mumbling, and his style is vibey. BabyTron with the scam and White boy rap. Babyface Ray, OMB Peezy, Sada Baby with the hype stuff, 42 Dugg with the young and turnt stuff. There’s so much stuff coming from the city. There [are] also people that people don’t talk about. All the Bandgang people … they’ve been talked about, but people forget about them. FWC Big Key, Baby Smooth, Teejayx6, everybody is doing stuff in the city.

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What did you think of Jack Harlow’s shout-out to you?

Everywhere I go, my name has been mentioned. Even if a person doesn’t know my face, when they hear “Skilla,” they put me with that song. That was just a major alley-oop … it makes people wonder why people love me, then they’ll look me up. Hopefully, I gained some fans off it.

Skilla Baby respects women, hails Detroit's hip-hop renaissance

Cover image by Garrett Bruce


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