Youngboy's latest collection of songs, "Master the Day of Judgement," is an emotional yet haphazard release.
Although he had been building momentum for the better part of two years, leading up to a series of self-released Youtube “leaks” that teased some incredible new material, Youngboy Never Broke Again’s debut album arrived last month with minimal fanfare. It was a stunning record, full of heartfelt monologues and ferocious rapping, but it also actively chose to paint his recent run-ins with the law - including an alleged assault on his current girlfriend - as purely a result of lifelong institutional struggles and the psychological trauma he’s bore throughout his upbringing. Unfortunately, this self-aggrandizing prevented Youngboy from finding the salvation he had so clearly been seeking.
On Master the Day of Judgement, presumably a collection of throwaways from his debut, the 18-year old continues to grapple with his success, his crimes and the subsequent judgement from the public eye, to varying degrees of effect. The opener, “Rock & Roll” does a passable job at setting the stakes once again, with Youngboy seething, “Back in 2009, I had jump in the street, I was totin' a .9mm.” For the math-adverse, that would make the rapper about nine years old. The following track, his first collaboration with the seemingly omnipresent Lil Uzi Vert, is less grim, seeing both artists singing their respective accolades, but “Get Right” aggressively tosses the listener back into the throws of the jungle Youngboy has grown to call his home.
Most of the album plays in the bipolar manner. This haphazardness is further proven by the fact that we saw two different tracklists on SoundCloud versus all other websites. On half the songs he’s in his bag, poetically daring any and all adversaries to come test his gangster. On the other half, he’s mournful, bargaining with Allah and his significant other. “Snitch” sees him play with his melodies as well as his lyricism, tackling a common rap trope with an utterly menacing sense of calm. On such tracks, Youngboy successfully juxtaposes the gravity of his actions with the undeniable difficulty of his position.
The soulful three-track run of “Akbar,” “Over” and “Show Me Your Love” showcases his more tender perspective and begs to be considered alongside the best of his work. “I just want show you I'm changing, I swear to God that I'm changin'/I'm so fucked up and I'm painless, it's hard to show what I'm thinkin'” he reveals on the middle track in an all-too-brief moment of naked honesty. In fact, this brevity actually highlights the project’s main shortcoming; all tracks feel unfinished to a certain degree, with “Show Me Your Love” and the closer, “Yessir,” literally ending mid-bar.
The entire project is rough around the edges. Each track features some semblance of a newly minted flow, but these are clearly new ideas that he needs to spend more time refining. In a short span of time, Youngboy’s relentless output and his consistency therein has built up a lot of credit with his fanbase. However, his refusal to address his charges in an open and honest manner, in conjunction with his more off-the-cuff style as of late, are severely hindering the quality and impact of his art.
The young man is in a transition state and Master the Day of Judgement, which doesn't hold a candle to last year’s Ain’t Too Long, let alone AI Youngboy or this year’s debut, is further proof that he’s all but voluntarily chosen to confine himself to a purgatory of sorts. Whether he emerges a better man and artist remains to be seen.