Since his entry onto the rap scene at 17 in 2016, Youngboy Never Broke Again has been an outcast. He’s not the atypical rapper, but instead an elastic MC that makes listeners feel everything he says — whether it’s the thrill of turning up or the depths of his pain.
But perhaps the most exciting quality of NBA Youngboy (born Kentrell DeSean Gaulden) is that despite the lack of mainstream acknowledgment or acclaim, he works against the machine. And the results are impressive. YB — who was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — attains significant streaming numbers with little to no features and doesn’t follow the algorithmic social media standards. He managed to go No.1 while behind bars (keep in mind that 2Pac and Lil Wayne were the only two rappers to do it prior).
Consistent releases via Youtube have kept his name floating around rap circles, and his rabid fanbase runs up his streaming numbers with every project. Though he’s never been awarded for his work, YB conquered 2022. His releases this year alone can be likened to iconic rap runs of the past, similar to Gucci Mane in 2006 or Wayne in 2007.
Though many will preach quality over quantity, Youngboy doesn’t miss with any of his releases. One after another, each project captures the complexities of who NBA Youngboy is. Though he muddles through a duality of emotions, a layer of nuance comes with YB’s music. He’s emotionally intelligent—he willfully embraces his feelings and articulates them with meticulous precision and passion. His pain and triumph translate to his music, where fans can easily empathize.
This year, he’s released eight projects, two of which are collaboration tapes with rappers DaBaby and Quando Rondo, respectively. The success is palpable — Colors and The Last Slimeto reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, the highest chart placement of all his projects in 2022. Even without being a dedicated YB fan, you can identify with any of his many emotions —there’s a YB song for every possible mood you can be in.
So we decided to look at his work this year and create a guide to getting into YoungBoy Never Broke Again. Here are the top 25 songs from NBA Youngboy this year (depending on the mood you’re in.)
1. Lil Nas X & Youngboy Never Broke Again — “Late To Da Party (F*ck BET)” (Single)
YB joined Lil Nas X to call out Black Entertainment Television (BET) for its lack of visibility regarding certain Black artists. The polarity between the two artists would seem jarring initially; however, in both of their cases, the unlikely duo were both overlooked for the annual awards ceremony. To that end, the two expressed their frustrations in a very catchy track.
2. “F**k Da Industry” (The Last Slimeto)
Youngboy is unconventional, and he knows it. Amidst all the conversation surrounding his name, he acknowledges that he doesn’t need to be accepted by the majority because his formula works. While other artists may require hefty label pushes, Youngboy is a rapper who opts to flood the streets instead. We’re all better off because of it.
3. “This Not a Song “This For My Supporters”” (Freestyle)
YB has made it very clear that he doesn’t do all the social media back and forth. Putting his thoughts into music, he created a song targeting the blog site The Shade Room and his ongoing beef with Bobby Shmurda. The eight-minute testimony feels impulsive yet charged with raw emotion. YB raps about the site consistently promoting him in a negative light. He even gets political and name-drops Kanye West to share his support, telling him to “hold his ground” and “remain strong.”
4. “I Hate Youngboy” (The Last Slimeto)
The Last Slimeto is where YB doesn’t hesitate to be direct. He goes on the offensive against Lil Durk in response to the Chicago rapper’s diss track “AHHH HA.” As for YB, he calls out Durk by name and other rappers who may affiliate with him, name-dropping Gucci Mane, Lil Baby’s 4PF imprint, Lil Boosie, and even Apple Music.
5. “Know Like I Know” (Colors)
The 12th track on Colors primarily serves as another diss record toward Memphis rapper NLE Choppa; however, we see YB evolve into a coach-like figure, where he’s offering a pep talk to his opps on why he shouldn’t be messed with.
1. “Put It On Me” (Realer 2)
A master at switching his flow no matter the tempo, this is a bid for mainstream success. The opening track for Realer 2 went viral on TikTok because of the magnetic tune — but even more because of YB’s dancing skills.
2. “Vette Motors” (The Last Slimeto)
Something that often goes unacknowledged when discussing YB is his ability to use his voice as an instrument. On “Vette Motors,” he casually floats on the OG Parker and JetsonMade beat, excitedly rapping about all his career’s luxuries.
3. “No Switch” (Colors)
Yet another track baiting Lil Durk. For a brief moment, you can hear him lose his mind—almost foaming at the mouth for violence, to the point where he sounds unhinged. Coincidentally, he raps in a straight jacket in the accompanying music video.
4. “Choppa On My Shoulda” (3800 Degrees)
3800 Degrees brings back the nostalgia from the lates ’90s of southern rap with unforgettable pen and pixel covers. The project is a play on Juvenile’s masterpiece, 400 Degreez. YB pays homage to Louisiana’s elder statesmen of hip-hop, rapping, “So cutthroat, you would think that they brought Slim back from Magnolia,” referring to the late Soulja Slim.
5. “Hi Haters” (Single)
On “Hi Haters,” YB has a new lease on life. The beginning of the music video opens with a scripture from the Book of Mormon — the teachings of the Latter Day Saints — that states that faith in Jesus is what makes forgiveness of our sins possible. YB raps over upbeat, guitar-laden production, letting his adversaries know that you can hate all you want — as long as he’s got his family and God he’s good.
1. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Shy Glizzy — “Hard” (3800 Degrees)
As two rappers who grew up on the other side of the tracks, YB and Shy Glizzy have flows and delivery that complement each other. A follow-up to their “Where We Come From” song in 2018, the duo makes an excellent argument for a collaboration project. YB raps about how he feels like he’s constantly being watched, and Shy Glizzy’s verse augments a visual of life in the streets. “They like, ‘Glizzy, where you been?’ I’m with them lions in the den,” he raps.
2. “Proud of Myself” (Single)
Peaceful yet cavalier, YB takes a step back to admire his handiwork. Despite his enduring legal troubles, he happily reflects on how far he’s come, thanking God for all his family and friends. Though it feels like a solemn reflection, the lyrics are resilient. He sees the silver lining and knows life will get better in due time.
3. “Feel Good” (Single)
“Gucci socks and Dior flops, tennis chain,” YoungBoy raps at the opening of the first verse. Though the song is a loosie, it still reaches high on the list of his best songs this year — his cadence is casual, and he raps about the luxuries that come with being a successful rapper.
4. “Acclaimed Emotions” (The Last Slimeto)
YB knows he’s been through a lot and wants to see the better side of life, but that won’t mean abandoning his emotions either. In this open love letter, he bares his soul over introspective guitar chords — his ambient melodies and flows feel all too real, which makes it easy to relate to his pain.
5. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Quando Rondo — “My Friend” (3860)
YB and Quando Rondo make a dangerous tandem. While, on their collaboration project 3860, the two mostly enjoy the frills of gangsta rap, the other side of the music is the perils of street life, with which the pair are all too familiar. On 3860 standout “My Friend,” the melancholy production allows the two to boast their loyalties and pay tribute to the women beside them.
1. “I Know” (The Last Slimeto)
NBA Youngboy sways through different emotions and never hesitates to look inward. On the opening track of The Last Slimeto, he turns his pain into something beautiful, as he melodically raps about love and loss. He peacefully interprets his abandonment in life, almost as if he is rapping his eulogy.
2. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Nicki Minaj — “I Admit” (Ma’ I Got A Family)
On Ma’ I Got A Family standout “I Admit,” YB connects with his sentimental side and comes off as more soft-hearted and tender. His vulnerability is melodious, and he switches between hardcore rapping and bluesy singing. Nicki Minaj is featured on the track and matches YB’s energy, with her affectionate vocals.
3. “Purge Me” (Realer 2)
“I won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt me. Please don’t try to purge me.” A lost soul looking to cling to love, the final track on Realer 2 opens with acoustic guitar chords that precede YB’s vocals. On the ballad he opens himself up to share his deepest fears, struggles in manhood, and taking care of his family.
4. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Kehlani — “My Go To” (The Last Slimeto)
When YB isn’t delivering menacing, volatile raps, YB is quite the loverboy, never afraid to confess his emotions for his lady. YB enlists Kehlani for a duet, and the two express their gratefulness for the people that serve as their respective backbone.
5. YoungBoy Never Broke Again & Jaz — “Poppin Shit” (Realer 2)
Sure, the song is less than two minutes long, but it holds a character that allows infinite loops. Women are one of YB’s many vices, but there’s seemingly a level of calm that his baby mother, Jaz, brings. The pair’s chemistry feels therapeutic as they hope for better days and work to “stay strong through the rain.”
1. “Made Rich” (Single)
It’s one thing to flaunt money, but YB recognizes his position in being able to take care of the people around him. “I gave my sister a $50, my brother a $50, $200, $200, $200,” he remarks in the song. He spreads his wealth over a psychedelic, EDM-influenced track that introduces a new flow to fans.
2. “Fish Scale” (Colors)
Fans were first introduced to YB as a rapper. But as he continues to evolve, we are now seeing hints of a rock star. On “Fish Scale” he raps over trap 808 beats but his flow and style transition between genres, from rock to gangsta rap.
3. YoungBoy Never Broke & E-40 — “Thug Nigga Story” (3800 Degrees)
Albeit consistent, YB is equal parts unpredictable. His verses come off relaxed, fully aware of his journey and how he’s contributed to his plight. Even at his calmest, his manic demeanor still translates. On “Thug Nigga Story” a rare guest verse from E-40 adds character to a typical YB deep cut.
4. YoungBoy Never Broke & DaBaby — “Turbo” (Better Than You)
The production is akin to something you’d hear on a Sega Genesis game, but DaBaby and YB explosively deliver nonetheless. The pair trade bars about driving fast cars at max speeds with their ladies by their sides.
5. “Bring It On” (Colors)
Amidst the three-part suite at the opening of Colors, YB is furious — but this time in a sonic change of pace slightly reminiscent of Playboi Carti. He starts in a whisper, only to turn into a raging threat.
Shelby Stewart is a writer from Houston, Texas passionate about covering stories on Southern culture. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her championing Westside Gunn lyrics. You can follow her on Twitter @ShelbyLnStewart
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