YoungBoy Never Broke Again
Photo: Tyler Shields
Even At The 'Top' Of The Rap Game, YoungBoy Never Broke Again Still Isn't Satisfied
When it comes to interviews, YoungBoy Never Broke Again isn't much of a talker—unless he's chatting about his kids.
Anyone who's been following the fast-rising rapper knows he shares a special bond with his five young children—he has one little girl on the way, he confirms to GRAMMY.com—who've made regular appearances in his music and videos.
This past Father's Day (June 21), he released the video for "death enclaimed" in which he's seen spending time with his kids—dancing in the kitchen, combing their hair, playing together on the beach. The clip is interwoven with shots of YoungBoy brandishing racks of cash, guns and luxury cars as he roams his lavish home.
In the song, he raps about connecting with his youngest son—"He too young to understand, but we still having our one-on-ones"—as well as his ongoing paranoia about being killed in his own home.
In August, he followed up with "Kacey Talk," the second single off his newly released album, Top. The song features vocal contributions from YoungBoy's son, and the track's eponym, Kacey, who's also featured in the single's official music video. The visual sees a high-rolling YoungBoy making big bank at a casino, signing record deals and spattering neon-bright paint on empty walls with his two young children.
Whether he's playing businessman or family man, YoungBoy is confidently beaming throughout the whole video.
"I couldn't get him to stop crying so I had to hold him while I recorded," YoungBoy tells GRAMMY.com about the making of "Kacey Talk." "And it's pretty cool because he actually talked like right when ... I was thinking of him to speak, he did it. So yeah, he's amazing. That's Kacey."
Despite a hectic and busy schedule of recording and releasing new music year after year, he cites his family as one of his main career drivers.
"This what makes it, that's what creates everything about it," he says about balancing life as a full-time father and artist. "That's what makes it fun. That's what gives you the drive to get up and do more. I ain't never really satisfied. So that's why I am how I am."
That same sense of perennial ambition is what's helped the emerging artist skyrocket from a teenage rap sensation from Baton Rouge, La., to a platinum-selling hip-hop kingpin who's claimed the throne time and time again. Within less than a year, he's topped the all-genre Billboard 200 chart a total of three times via a pair of mixtapes—AI YoungBoy 2 last October and 38 Baby 2 in May—and his most recent album, Top. (Still Flexin, Still Steppin, his first of two mixtapes in 2020, also came close to topping the chart, bowing at No. 2 in March.)
While this "content-deluge strategy," as The New York Times writes, of frequently releasing new music and full-on projects has helped YoungBoy dominate the rap game, his relentless approach to creating is less about some marketing grand design and more of an emotional reaction to the moments he's living in now.
"My brain ain't on standstill," YoungBoy explains. "My music is kind of my life, so you know the music ain't going to be at no standstill. I'll always feel like I got something to speak on or to say to get my point across. I'm always, like, in a moment with my music or with my thoughts or with my releases. That's kind of how I do that connection with my fans."
YoungBoy's rabid fan base is also key to his breakout success: After announcing the release of Top in August, the album topped the Apple Music charts based solely on preorders, according to Billboard. The impressive feat is a direct reflection of just how much his hungry fans follow his every step.
But for YoungBoy, his direct relationship with his fans goes beyond streaming numbers and chart placements.
"They mean everything," he says of his fans. "I always is true. I never hid nothing with them from the jump. So it's a reimbursement cycle going on with us, I guess. It's spiritual: I dish out pain, they dish out what they dish. But dish out the negative or positive, either way it go, I'm still noticed by them. I'm thankful for that—bet. They giving back and I'm giving back. It's a big cycle."
But as YoungBoy's star continues to rise in the public forum, so, too, does his personal life, which has become a constant source of legal issues, including multiple arrests and serious charges. Last August, he was placed on house arrest after violating his probation stemming from a 2016 shooting, according to Billboard. (He was allowed to record new music from his home and post it to YouTube while on house arrest, Baton Rouge, La., daily newspaper The Advocate reports.)
Much like YoungBoy keeps his struggles and intimate experiences at the fore in his music, he's used his legal battles and stints in jail as inspiration for his art. Last September, he released "House Arrest Tingz," a featured track on Top, whose video chronicles his experience on house arrest.
"I really feel like it kind of trapped me because it was tough for me to make music in there," he says of his house arrest spell. "It really kind of trained me. I had a big writer's block. But I guess there's the whole thing of trying to get yourself together. I don't know, but it was a f***ed-up position they had me in."
While YoungBoy Never Broke Again remains one of the top rappers in the scene today—Top currently sits at No. 3 on the latest Billboard 200 chart, behind the late Pop Smoke, at the time of this writing—he "ain't satisfied" yet.
"It's good. It's a big step forward," he says of his recent successes.
And as for the reception of Top, he only asks fans and listeners for one thing.
"I don't want them to do sh*t but respect it. It's simple as that."