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Even At The 'Top' Of The Rap Game, YoungBoy Never Broke Again Still Isn't Satisfied

YoungBoy Never Broke Again

Photo: Tyler Shields

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Even At The 'Top' Of The Rap Game, YoungBoy Never Broke Again Still Isn't Satisfied

After topping the U.S. charts three times in less than a year, the fast-rising Louisiana rapper tells GRAMMY.com about the breakout success of his new album, 'Top,' the inspiration he finds in his young kids and his close relationship with his fans

GRAMMYs/Sep 29, 2020 - 02:51 am

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."

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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."

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

Rotimi

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Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More

The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'

GRAMMYs/Jul 8, 2019 - 10:04 pm

In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.

"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.

Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.

"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."

Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American. 

"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

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Find Out Who's Nominated For Best Rap Album | 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Dreamville, Meek Mill, 21 Savage, Tyler, The Creator, and YBN Cordae all earn nominations in the category

GRAMMYs/Nov 20, 2019 - 06:28 pm

The 2020 GRAMMYs are just around the corner, and now the nominations are in for the coveted honor of Best Rap Album. While we'll have to wait until the 62nd GRAMMY Awards air on CBS on Jan. 26 to find out who will win, let's take a look at which albums have been nominated for Best Rap Album.

Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville                                                                        

 
This star-studded compilation album from 11-time GRAMMY nominee J. Cole and his Dreamville Records imprint features appearances from some of the leading and fastest-rising artists in hip-hop today, including label artists EARTHGANG, J.I.D, and Ari Lennox, plus rappers T.I, DaBaby, and Young Nudy, among many others. Recorded in Atlanta across a 10-day recording session, Revenge of the Dreamers III is an ambitious project that saw more than 300 artists and producers contribute to the album, resulting in 142 recorded tracks. Of those recordings, 18 songs made the final album, which ultimately featured contributions from 34 artists and 27 producers.

Dreamers III, the third installment in the label’s Revenge of the Dreamers compilation series, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and achieved gold status this past July. In addition to a Best Rap Album nod, Dreamers III is also nominated for Best Rap Performance next year for album track “Down Bad,” featuring J.I.D, Bas, J. Cole, EARTHGANG, and Young Nudy.

Championships – Meek Mill

In many ways, Championships represents a literal and metaphorical homecoming for Meek Mill. Released in November 2018, Championships is the Philadelphia rapper’s first artist album following a two-year prison sentence he served after violating his parole in 2017. Championships, naturally, sees Meek tackling social justice issues stemming from his prison experience, including criminal justice reform. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, his second chart-topper following 2015’s Dreams Worth More Than Money, and reached platinum status in June 2019. Meek Mill's 2020 Best Rap Album nod marks his first-ever GRAMMY nomination.

i am > i was – 21 Savage

Breakout rapper and four-time GRAMMY nominee 21 Savage dropped i am > i was, his second solo artist album, at the end of 2018. The guest-heavy album, which features contributions from Post Malone, Childish Gambino, J. Cole, and many others, has since charted around the world, topped the Billboard 200 – a first for the artist – in the beginning of 2019, and achieved gold status in the U.S. As well, nine songs out of the album’s 15 original tracks landed on the Hot 100 chart, including multi-platinum lead single “A Lot,” which is also nominated for Best Rap Song next year. 21 Savage’s 2020 Best Rap Album nomination, which follows Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Performance nods for his 2017 Post Malone collaboration, "Rockstar,” marks his first solo recognition in the top rap category.

IGOR – Tyler, The Creator

The eccentric Tyler, The Creator kicked off a massive 2019 with his mid-year album, IGOR. Released this past May, IGOR, Tyler’s fifth solo artist album, is his most commercially successful project to date. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, marking his first time topping the coveted chart, while its lead single, "Earfquake,” peaked at No. 13, his highest entry on the Hot 100. Produced in full by Tyler and featuring guest spots from fellow rap and R&B stars Kanye West, Lil Uzi Vert, Solange, and Playboi Carti, among many others, IGOR follows the rapper’s 2017 album, Flower Boy, which received the Best Rap Album nod that same year.

The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Emerging rapper YBN Cordae, a member of the breakout YBN rap collective, released his debut album, The Lost Boy, to widespread critical acclaim this past July. The 15-track release is stacked with major collaborations with hip-hop heavyweights, including Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Meek Mill, and others, plus production work from J. Cole and vocals from Quincy Jones. After peaking at No. 13 on the Billboard 200, The Lost Boy now notches two 2020 GRAMMY nominations: Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song for album track “Bad Idea,” featuring Chance the Rapper.

Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Brittany Howard

Photo: C Brandon/Redferns/Getty Images

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Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz & More Join Small Business Live Benefit Livestream

Proceeds from the event will be go toward loans to small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses, via Accion Opportunity Fund

GRAMMYs/Jun 16, 2020 - 04:13 am

This Saturday, June 20, artists including Brittany Howard, Brandi Carlile, Leon Bridges, 2 Chainz and more will come together for Small Business Live, a livestream fundraiser event for small businesses facing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Proceeds from the livestream will go to Accion Opportunity Fund to support small businesses founded by people of color, with additional support to women-owned and immigrant-owned businesses.

“Entrepreneurs of color are denied credit more often and charged higher rates for money they borrow to fund their businesses. We need to accelerate support to underserved businesses in order to reach our full potential,” Accion Opportunity Fund CEO Luz Urrutia said. “We have to decide what we want our Main Streets to look like when this is over, and we must act decisively to keep small businesses alive and ready to rebuild. This is a fun way to do something really important. Everyone’s support will make a huge difference to small business owners, their families and employees who have been devastated by this pandemic, the recession, and centuries of racism, xenophobia and oppression.”

Tune in for Small Business Live Saturday, June 20 from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. EDT on smallbiz.live. The site also provides a full schedule of programs and links to watch the livestream on all major digital platforms. To learn more about Accion Opportunity Fund, visit the organization's website.

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Rolling Loud Festival Los Angeles Reveals 2019 Lineup

Doja Cat

Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Rolling Loud Festival Los Angeles Reveals 2019 Lineup

Find out who's bringing the heat to the hip-hop fest returning to L.A. this December

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2019 - 12:11 am

Today, Rolling Loud revealed the massive lineup for their final music festival of 2019, Rolling Loud Los Angeles, which is set to take over the Banc of California Stadium and adjacent Exposition Park on Dec. 14–15.

This iteration of "the Woodstock of Hip-Hop," as the all-knowing Diddy has called it, will feature Chance the RapperLil Uzi VertJuice WRLDYoung Thug and Lil Baby as Saturday's heavy-hitting headliners. Sunday's headliners are none other than Future, A$AP Rocky, Meek Mill, YG and Playboi Carti.

L.A.'s own Blueface, Tyga and Doja Cat, are slated to perform, as well as representatives from the diverse rap scenes across the country, including Wale, Juicy J, Lil Yachty, Megan Thee Stallion, Gunna, Tyla Yaweh, Machine Gun Kelly and Yung Gravy.

The lineup announcement follows the successful wrap of Rolling Loud Bay Area in Oakland this past weekend. The event's flagship Miami event took place in May this year, and the New York and Hong Kong debut editions will both take place later this month.

Tickets for Rolling Loud L.A. go on sale this Friday, Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. PST. The complete lineup and more info on this event and their other fests can be found here.

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