Youngboy Never Broke Again is still a mystery more than four years after joining Atlantic Records and releasing his self-described debut album, Until Death Call My Name. The 22-year-old rapper from North Baton Rouge isn’t a blatant innovator like Playboi Carti, nor is he a representative of a scene that values tremendous creativity like his rivals Lil Durks in Chicago or Pop Smokes in Brooklyn. In the previous two years, he has secured four Billboard number-one projects, amassing a sizable internet following in the process. (Like the majority of social media hives, his followers, who post under the hashtags #YBB YoungBoy Better can be overly aggressive.) As a result, the media is compelled to cover him. Instead of attempting to understand his music, journalists typically reduce him to recognizable clichés, such as the vast volume of stuff he releases or the staggering number of court proceedings he is involved in. (Hebeat gun possession charges in Los Angeles last monthand is awaiting trial in Louisiana on a case that is comparable.)

All of the YoungBoys discography albums, mixtapes, and freestyles are data dumps that were created by entering a recording studio, cueing up a folder of beats from various producers, then going completely blank on the microphone for extended periods of time. Although some may have a slightly higher signal-to-noise ratio than others, all of them are essentially formless save from subtle, over time evolving approaches. Even though he doesn’t make albums, he succeeds at producing memorable moments like Outside Today, Whatever You Say I Am with Kevin Gates, and his remix of Jay-The Z’s Story of OJ (Top Version). a viral video showed the Phoenix Suns warmed up before a game earlier this spring while joyously singing and dancing to his 2021 hit Nevada. For those who haven’t written off YoungBoy as just another disturbed, violent, and even abusiveyoung star surfing raps post-Soundcloud age, there are YoungBoy highlights waiting.

The Last Slimeto, his fourth album, feels like an overloaded, overlong, and occasionally intriguing compact disc from the No Limit era with 30 tracks. YoungBoy returns to his regular subjects, including his difficult upbringing and his family in the North, his urge to brandish weapons and metaphorically fire at foes both real and imaginary, and the trophies of war, such hoes, pricey automobiles, and large sums of money. He explores trauma and pain that has been concrete-hardened, a concept that has been present in rap since the days of 2Pac’s Pain and the Notorious B.I.G.’s Everyday Struggle. He responds to press inquiries on his various journeys by asking, “Slow Down, Ball for the media?” No. Ironically, it’s his real-world antics that have helped him become such a popular figure online, and his comments on all the hullabaloo show that he’s a self-aware Black musician who understands what he stands for and the sources of inspiration for his music. On Don’t Rate Me, he sings, “It ain’t no limit to the things I do/Now let me talk the blues.”

Thankfully, YoungBoy has toned down the tear-jerking Autotuned crap he previously applied to songs like 2020s Top. He deliberately uses it on choruses and a few totally Autotuned songs here, such as Home Aint Home, a duet he performs with fellow trap vocalist Rod Wave. When Kehlani sings about her wifey in My Go To with her distinctively raspy voice, she demands the listeners’ attention in a manner that YoungBoy can’t, accidentally exposing his vocal flaws. However, he successfully creates an universe of his worries on The Last Slimeto, offering attention-grabbing songs like Slow Down, Umm Hmm, and Acclaimed Emotions. He raps considerably more forcefully than before, maybe in response to the genre’s recent, welcome shift away from melodic rap and toward strong, declarative lines. He also uses a wider variety of beats; he doesn’t only rely on the same generic mainstream sound that Fader writer Brandon Callender aptly described as twangy guitars and weepy keys. describes. For instance, YoungBoy flips over a straightforward piano arrangement in the song Fuck Da Industry. He raps, “I keep narcotics inside my body and won’t let them take my soul. If an opposing party tries to block me off, I just shoot this bitch right on the road.” In the meantime, Top Sound’s flirtation with ragga rhythms is fascinating but falls flat.

I Hate YoungBoy, the album’s penultimate tune, contains enough allusions to merit a Reddit discussion. A diss track directed towards Lil Durk, Gucci Mane, Baton Rouge’s legendary Lil Boosie, and others, it was first released in February for reasons that are not important to discuss here. YoungBoy has fought with many of his contemporaries, contributing to his reputation as a wayward, dangerous, but undoubtedly successful industry outsider, even though he has collaborated with Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne and counts Birdman as a mentor.

The Last Slimetois an exciting mishmash that strengthens the reputation of a Southern rapper whose notoriety keeps escalating. YoungBoy may ultimately learn how to create albums that are enjoyable from beginning to end, just like Lil Wayne did. Hardcore rap fans, though, don’t wax lyrical about Weezy’s epic albums like Tha Carter III; instead, they extol his unpolished, unfiltered treasures from the Da Drought and Dedication mixtapes. You will regret ignoring YoungBoy because his time has come.

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