Image courtesy YoungBoy Never Broke Again and Atlantic Records.

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”
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YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Two years and six mixtapes since the release of his debut album, “Until Death Call My Name,” YoungBoy Never Broke Again has returned with his sophomore album, “Top.”

Boasting sixteen solo mixtapes at 20 years old, YoungBoy is an artist who thrives on flooding the market with music. When it comes to releasing an album, however, YoungBoy has proven to follow a much more selective process.

With “Until Death Call My Name,” YoungBoy delivered infectious performances either vocally, lyrically or both on all 20 tracks of the deluxe version. Paired with flawless beat selection, the album is a strong candidate to someday be looked back on as a classic. Now, with “Top,” YoungBoy carries that same infectious performance and flawless beat selection throughout the 21 track album.

It’s clear on “Top” that YoungBoy has mastered the art of melodic rap. With two or three possible exceptions out of 21, YoungBoy delivers undeniably catchy hooks that often come off as effortless. With the tracks “Right Foot Creep” and “Big Bankroll,” YoungBoy doesn’t bother to establish a pattern and the hook still hits. The unique appeal of “Top,” however, is YoungBoy’s pairing of two, three or as many as four hooks on a single track, disguised as intros, outros, refrains or even within the verses – “Sticks With Me” being a prime example.

Unlike YoungBoy’s first album, where the goal was to create a record catering directly to a mainstream audience, “Top” is packaged with several songs made specifically for his street supporters. While the tone of the tracks are generally abrasive, YoungBoy frequently flip-flops flows in each song, consistently delivering multidimensional-tracks that maintain mainstream appeal.

Even on songs with less aggressive tones, like “House Arrest Tingz,” YoungBoy’s subject matter is focused in the streets and saturated with heavy themes of violence. While a deterrent for some people, there’s no question concerning the authenticity of the experiences YoungBoy raps about, barring occasional exaggeration. We’re made aware of just how dark that reality is on tracks like “All In,” where YoungBoy reveals his anxieties surrounding his health and safety, his dad’s questionable release from prison, and the threat of losing more loved ones to gang-related violence.

Consistently, drastically switching flows and tones on most tracks along with providing more than twice as many hooks as songs on the album, it’s like Drake rapped on “5AM In Toronto,” “that’s why every song sound like Drake featuring Drake,” except it’s YoungBoy featuring Never Broke Again. In the oversaturated state of music today, it’s records like “Top” that stay on the charts, because of their knack for staying stuck in your head.

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