Nick Alfano, Contributing Writer
In the digital age of rap, uploading music to Soundcloud is the musical equivalent of a get-rich-quick scheme. The blueprint to online virality usually consists of recording a 16-bar verse loaded with hip-hop buzzwords along with two hooks dripping in auto-tune overtop of a trendy beat. Self-upload the track to the popular streaming service, sit back, and just like that, a hit is born.
For Richmond-based artist Baby Sosa, however, the platform is merely a service for her and her friends to easily access her songs.
“I’ve been playing music since I was in middle school. I just do it by nature — just out of boredom, in my free time,” Sosa said.
The 19-year-old rapper, singer, songwriter and producer has an undeniably cool and laid-back persona. This translates to her music, with which she combines effortless singing and rapping with digital and oftentimes muddy production. Her discography is littered with earworms and anthems of happiness and exists in a soundscape that you can’t help but go back to for more.
And the masses have begun to take notice. With more than 150,000 collective streams on Soundcloud to show for it, Sosa has begun receiving attention from publications such as Lyrical Lemonade and Pitchfork. While this would be considered a massive accomplishment for many in the underground rap scene, Sosa remains relatively unphased.
“I didn’t even know what Pitchfork was,” Sosa said. “They just hit me up asking for a picture, and 10 minutes later the article was up.”
Similarly, established artists have also taken note of Sosa’s sound. Her track “Lightskin Shawty” has garnered “likes” on Soundcloud from acts such as Steve Lacy and Clairo in recent months. Staying true to her demeanor, however, she doesn’t seem too starstruck.
“I just look at other musicians as normal people. Talent-wise, it’s inspiring, but I haven’t met anyone that famous yet,” she said. “Clairo and I follow each other and DM each other, though.”
The popularity came suddenly for Sosa. She recalls trying to make her mark as a young woman in music working as a DJ at local art shows in Richmond just a few years back.
“People [at the art shows] would be like, ‘Who’s that girl? She’s so young.’ … They just weren’t taking me seriously,” Sosa said. “The only thing that is changing people’s perception of me is seeing how many people are fucking with my music. But at the same time, people are praising me now for being a young girl putting up these numbers.”
Speaking of putting up numbers, her most popular single, “EverywhereIGo,” has amassed just shy of 44,000 streams. She credits being recognized within Richmond as inspiration for the song’s lyrics.
“‘EverywhereIGo’ came from me just walking down the street and everyone saying hi to me. Even people that I don’t really know,” Sosa said.
Richmond also has brought Sosa the vast majority of her guest features and producers. When it comes to making music, she prefers to keep her collaborations in-house.
“So far, I’ve only worked with my friends,” Sosa said. “They’ve always been the first to send me music or send me beats, so I make sure I work with them first before I start working with other people.”
In a world where it’s not uncommon for aspiring artists to brood over the Soundcloud algorithms or even pay third-party services to inorganically boost their streaming numbers, Sosa is just having fun with everything she does.
“I don’t really look at the views. I can feel more of the support and energy when people can tell me that the music is good in person instead of just looking at views,” Sosa said. “I just want to keep making music.”
To listen to Baby Sosa’s music, visit soundcloud.com/bby-sosa.