NBA YoungBoy's Career: Becoming One Of The Industry's Most Successful Rappers

NBA YoungBoy's Career: Becoming One Of The Industry's Most Successful Rappers

NBA YoungBoy's career as a rapper is changing the hip-hop game. Widely touted as one the hardest workers in hip-hop, the Louisiana-born MC has been releasing music like clockwork over the past few years. Astoundingly, YoungBoy has already put out three albums in 2023 alone. His latest mixtape, Richest Opp, has him set to join Future and Drake for the third-most Top 10 rap albums. This is especially impressive, considering he's merely 23 years old.

For most rappers, an over-saturation of music would be a death sentence for their career. However, YoungBoy has garnered a fanbase that's along for the ride regarding his repetitive output. At this point, his reputation for releasing a new project every few months is one that fans have become accustomed to. As a result, his studio albums and mixtapes continue to debut in the Top 5 on the Billboard charts.

NBA YoungBoy Turned To Music As A Child

NEW ORLEANS, LA - AUGUST 25: Rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again performs during Lil Weezyana at Champions Square on August 25, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images)

NBA YoungBoy's early life was full of trouble surrounding run-ins with the law. Named Kentrell Gaulden, he began to turn to his pen as a child to process the chaotic world around him. Growing up in an impoverished area of Baton Rouge, his father was absent throughout his upbringing. He was surrounded by drugs and violence daily, an experience he's lyrically chronicled throughout his career. Dropping out of high school in the ninth grade, YoungBoy was forced to fend for himself from a young age.

The rapper's music began to gain significant traction as early as 2016. After releasing numerous mixtapes on YouTube and Soundcloud, he garnered attention from the surrounding Baton Rouge community. This would quickly morph into industry-wide exposure. Releasing multiple albums throughout 2016, a 16-year-old YoungBoy even included artists such as Kevin Gates and 21 Savage on Before I Go and 38 Baby. By 2017, NBA YoungBoy's career had taken off through the breakout mixtape AI YoungBoy. Hit tracks such as "Untouchable" and "No Smoke" solidified him as a mainstream force, with his textbook-rapid flows blowing up across the Internet.

SUNNY ISLES, FLORIDA - MAY 12: Sunny Isles Beach police officers stand near a van where an individual was found shot to death after a shooting close by that reports say involved rapper NBA Youngboy on May 12, 2019 in Sunny Isles, Florida. Police continue to investigate both of the scenes near the Trump International Beach Resort. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

However, NBA YoungBoy's troubling childhood circumstances have followed him throughout his catapulting music career. He's had to balance constant court cases with music creation throughout his fame. In 2016, he was arrested for attempted first-degree murder in connection to a drive-by shooting in Baton Rouge. In 2018, he was arrested for kidnapping and assault in an incident involving his once-girlfriend. Once again, he was arrested in 2021 for illegal possession of firearms.

Due to his constant troubles with the law, YougnBoy has spent much of the past half-decade under house arrest. However, the unfortunate circumstance has yielded some benefits for the understated MC. With nothing much to do but create music, the past five years have seen him build up his catalog to over 25 mixtapes and five studio albums. Ironically, his legal struggles have enabled him to hone in on his rap career.

A Shift While In Utah

In addition, he's taken advantage of the quiet time in the hopes of becoming an inspiration to younger generations. In an interview with Billboard, YoungBoy spoke about his time under house arrest in Utah. The isolation and chance to reconnect peacefully with his family have positively influenced the rapper. In the long term, he plans to buy more land there. YoungBoy also stated that he's most looking forward to "change." He added, "I'm very curious of the person who I shall become."

On all accounts, collaborators with NBA YoungBoy have had nothing but good things to say about the MC throughout his career. In 2021, he earned a spot on Tyler, the Creator's Call Me If You Get Lost. His verse off of "Wusyaname" stole the show on the song, with the hip-hop audience being shocked at his ability to flow over a soul-based beat. Tyler shouted out YoungBoy during a show back in 2021, simply stating, "He's such a sweetheart." YoungBoy has also released collaborative mixtapes from artists such as Birdman, Moneybagg Yo, Rich the Kid, and DaBaby.

He's Looking To Rebirth His Image

In retrospect, NBA Youngboy's career is one of persistence and dedication. Overcoming childhood obstacles, there's no doubt that his lack of direction would contribute to legal troubles later in life. However, we're beginning to see a more mature and measured YoungBoy as he enters his mid-20s. Solidifying himself as one of the biggest names in hip-hop, it will be interesting to see if he continues his constant music output over the next few years. With his success when diving into other hip-hop styles, there's no doubt that fans wouldn't mind a more experimental record that took YoungBoy longer to complete. However, he's inspired other rappers to stay consistent with their releases.

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