YoungBoy Never Broke Again is a highly prolific rapper from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has attracted a loyal following for his uncompromising street narratives. He debuted as one of 2015/2016′s rising talents, but that trajectory was altered slightly after a six-month prison sentence. Following his release in 2017, he became a regular fixture on the Billboard charts, frequently issuing mixtapes, EPs, and singles. His debut album, Until Death Call My Name, reached the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 when it appeared in 2018, and his 2019 mixtape AI YoungBoy 2 topped the chart. He remained in the upper reaches of the chart in 2020 with multiple mixtapes before hitting number one with his sophomore album, Top. He closed his whirlwind year with yet another mixtape and a collaboration with Rich the Kid, Nobody Safe. YoungBoy returned to the top of the Billboard 200 with 2021′s Sincerely, Kentrell and reached number two with 2022′s The Last Slimeto. He continued releasing mixtapes like 3800 Degrees and the DJ Drama-hosted Ma' I Got a Family in quick succession. I Rest My Case, the first album issued through the rapper’s deal with Motown, appeared in early 2023.
Originally known as NBA YoungBoy, the rapper was born Kentrell DeSean Gaulden in Baton Rouge in 1999. Inspired by local artist Lil Phat, the young Gaulden started rapping and recording. His debut mixtape, Life Before Fame, arrived in 2015 and was quickly followed by a trilogy of releases titled Mind of a Menace. Shining a spotlight on his gritty and violent upbringing, YoungBoy displayed a talent for wordy bars, combining the spirits of contemporaries like 21 Savage and Boosie Badazz. In 2016, he released the 38 Baby mixtape, which featured fellow Baton Rouge rappers like Badazz and Kevin Gates. Before I Go Reloaded, a collection of previously released tracks, was issued at the end of the year, as the future of his burgeoning career remained uncertain. In 2017, after he was released from prison, he issued AI YoungBoy, his Atlantic debut, which featured the single “Untouchable.” The effort debuted in the Top 25 of the Billboard 200. Months later, YoungBoy issued Fed Baby's, a collaborative mixtape with Moneybagg Yo. He quickly followed Fed Baby's with Ain't Too Long, a short mixtape that debuted as a streaming video playlist before landing on the Billboard 200.
YoungBoy’s first official full-length, the platinum-certified Until Death Call My Name, was released in April 2018, and soon charted in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 album chart. The set included guest appearances from Future, Lil Baby, and Birdman, as well as the Top 40-charting single “Outside Today.” Less than a month after the album was released, a mixtape titled Master the Day of Judgement appeared. A trilogy of EPs — 4Respect, 4Freedom, and 4Loyalty — arrived the following August and September. All three were then combined with an additional EP’s worth of material as 4Respect 4Freedom 4Loyalty 4WhatImportant. The restlessly prolific artist released two more mixtapes, Decided and Realer, before the end of the year. In October 2019, he issued the mixtape AI YoungBoy 2, which debuted at number one. Still Flexin, Still Steppin appeared in February 2020, and reached number two on the chart. He continued his winning streak a few months later with yet another mixtape, 38 Baby 2, which topped the charts upon release. In addition to a guest spot from DaBaby, the set also featured YoungBoy’s mother, Sherhonda Gaulden, holding her own on “Bout My Business.”
In September 2020, he released his third project of the year and second studio album, Top. The 21-song record featured guest spots from Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne and debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard chart. Closing out the year, he went on a blitz of releases, starting with the crew compilation Never Broke Again, Vol. 1 and extending his chart streak with the Top Ten mixtape Until I Return and a collaboration with Rich the Kid, Nobody Safe. Several charting singles, including “White Teeth” and “On My Side,” led up to the release of Sincerely, Kentrell, the rapper’s third studio LP. The album appeared in September 2021 and became YoungBoy’s fourth release to top the Billboard 200. He rounded out the year with From the Bayou, a Cash Money-issued mixtape with label co-founder Birdman, which reached the Top 20.
YoungBoy’s first release of 2022, a mixtape titled Colors, hit number two. Better Than You, a collaborative mixtape with DaBaby, reached the Top Ten. The 30-song full-length The Last Slimeto arrived in August and just barely missed the top spot. Though it had been announced as his final release for Atlantic, his Realer 2 mixtape, and subsequent releases, were distributed by the company. 3800 Degrees appeared in early October, followed two weeks later by Ma' I Got a Family, which was hosted by DJ Drama and included features by Nicki Minaj and Yeat. 3860 (with Quando Rondo) appeared in November, and the compilation Lost Files arrived just before Christmas.
YoungBoy’s first release in 2023 was the full-length I Rest My Case, which appeared as part of his artist deal with Motown. ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Paul Simpson