YoungBoy Never Broke Again is an artist who is pretty difficult to understand.
Not in the sense of his lyrics being intelligible — albeit some of his tracks do admittedly pair nicely with a lyric read-along — but in the sense of who he is. He’s been labeled “a sweetheart” by his “WUSYANAME” collaborator Tyler, The Creator, but on the flip side, the FBI has painted the young rapper out to be a modern menace to society as the focus of “Operation Never Free Again.” To make matters even more frustrating, the Never Broke Again head honcho rarely does interviews, so apart from the tidbits that one is able to pull from his music, public appearances, and viral videos, it’s hard to say exactly who NBA YoungBoy is.
For now, it appears that he is The Last Slimeto. If you’re confused about what that means, join the club because his fourth studio album of the same name does little to explain the significance of that seemingly grandiose title. What The Last Slimeto does do, however, is expound upon the idea of who YoungBoy Never Broke Again is as an artist.
Long heralded as one of the undisputed champions of the young generation of rappers, the 22-year-old phenomenon has an unlikely track record of commercial success, from his breakout string of Billboard 200 chart-toppers from 2019 to 2020 to his ability to dethrone Drake’s Certified Lover Boy as the #1 album last fall with Sincerely, Kentrell. Considering the suffocating amount of legal issues that have plagued his career since its inception and his self-proclaimed blackballed status in the music industry, it’s hard not to be impressed with his NBA YoungBoy’s accomplishments. It is much harder to be fully impressed by the output itself, from 2020’s 38 Baby 2 to this year’s Colors mixtape. The Last Slimeto puts a stop to that trend.
The Last Slimeto is a diverse sample of YoungBoy’s talents. Rageful, poetic, vulnerable, and enthusiastically contentious, the 30-track album is everything that you’d want from the Never Broke Again artist and much more. Familiar YB tendencies can be found throughout his fourth studio album, from his infectiously defiant energy to the nostalgic production that pays homage to the iconic Louisiana Hip-Hop acts that paved the way for him. The same can be said about his more unfavorable musical habits as well, most notably the endless amount of whining and wailing that is typically far too bothersome to effectively serve as melody. Furthermore, YB’s penchant for releasing lengthy projects has not only returned, but grown significantly more egregious. This album contains 30 tracks, which contribute to its outlandish one-hour, 20-minute, and 30-second runtime.
Excessively long albums tend to get the side-eye from fans and critics alike and fall flat as a result of housing such an exorbitant amount of filler, but despite the fact that its drawn-out format practically works against itself, NBA YoungBoy’s latest release is a sprawling epic with an unexpected lack of skippable tracks.
The Last Slimeto makes for an incredibly enthralling listen, and with only three guest features — Kehlani, Quavo, and Rod Wave — credited on the album, much of the credit for its success should be attributed to YoungBoy. While the beats are varied and impressive across the board, YB’s songwriting and passionate delivery are what make the album’s highlights — from “Lost Soul Survivor” and “Digital” to “” and “Home Ain’t Home”— so memorable. The technicality of his bars on the moody and poetic mid-album gem “Proof” make for one of The Last Slimeto’s most remarkable and compelling moments, his brutally honest lyrics about being unable to kick his “drank” addiction on “7 Days” add some colorful characterization to an already insane banger.
His experimentation with brighter production and more radio-friendly tunes isn’t lost on listeners either, as “Wagwan” and the Kehlani-assisted “My Go To” signify another major step forward in YoungBoy’s sonic progression. Even if you already have a pretty strong opinion — whether good or bad — about the polarizing young rap star, The Last Slimeto is effectively NBA YoungBoy’s warning to those attempting to put him in a box. On his eclectic Quavo collaboration “Don’t Rate Me,” YoungBoy explicitly echoes that sentiment, rapping, “Don't rate me, it ain't no limit to the things that I do/Now let me talk the blues.”
It’s also worth noting that NBA doubles down on his unrelenting gall by placing the previously released track “I Hate YoungBoy” as the final track on the album. While violent rap beefs are the last thing that anyone within the culture should be championing, YoungBoy’s willingness to directly respond to his rap rival and accept a position that sets him and his Never Broke Again labelmates against the entire music industry is spine-tingling — and slightly reminiscent of a legendary rapper who once pitted himself against the world at the height of his career as well. Real students of Hip-Hop understand that there is a heavy weight that comes with actually placing a diss track on one’s album, and judging from the effort put into The Last Slimeto, it's probably safe to assume that NBA understands that too. “I Hate YoungBoy” is both a perfectly sinister culmination of an absolute tour de force and a statement heard loud and clear from Hip-Hop’s favorite pariah.
Logistically, YoungBoy Never Broke Again’s The Last Slimeto shouldn’t work. With such a bloated tracklist, lack of features, and the return of many of his worst musical tendencies, this album seemed almost destined to be a streaming-friendly record — and therefore, a low-effort commercially juggernaut — that fans could pick apart easily without the pressure of sitting through its 80-minute runtime. However, NBA YoungBoy clearly had something else in mind. The Baton Rouge native’s unapologetically long-winded fourth studio album is an arresting effort that you need to listen to from top to bottom.
Stream The Last Slimeto below.