Credit: Jimmy Fontaine
by Paul Attard Music What Would Meek Do?

NBA YoungBoy | Sincerely, Kentrell

November 2, 2021

Sincerely, Kentrell is a senselessly assembled product, not without artistry, but lacking in a coherent vision.

“YB better.” This simple phrase has become a rallying cry of sorts for the millions of prepubescent YoungBoy Never Broke Again (or NBA YoungBoy) stans who continue to flood comment sections and Twitter replies in order to champion their incarcerated artist of choice. The fanbase which surrounds the Baton Rouge native is comparable to that of most K-pop acts: both engage in the most unrelenting, childlike behavior humanly imaginable online, alienating virtually any outsider observers. But YoungBoy’s world and mythos isn’t one for casual listeners, especially given the intense rate at which he’s dropped albums, mixtapes, music videos, and the like. If anything, he himself plays into the meme, which has only intensified after he was blackballed by the media at large. These days, he’s in full-on outlaw mode, releasing projects from prison after being locked up in March of this year and receiving little to no industry push. He’s still out-selling most popular rappers — he’s also had zero features on his last two albums and is still performing well commercially, a feat which has drawn little attention — but chances are, you’re not going to be hearing “Toxic Punk” playing at a public sporting event anytime soon. YouTube was his platform of choice, but even there things are getting dicey

But pleasing people — namely music critics and executives for streaming services — has never really been YB’s forte, who has instead chosen to participate in engagement strategies strictly for the fans. So his latest, Sincerely, Kentrell, serves less as a defining artistic statement and more as a dumping ground of material to feed these ever hungry devotees, who will all likely declare this as his masterpiece. Quality-wise, it’s a long way from that hefty title. Much like his previous studio release Top, there are no outright misfires in the sprawling 21-song collection, but there are also hardly any tracks that stand out from one another. Which is fine for an eight-song stretch, where YoungBoy’s aggressive delivery and fractious tone are lively enough to keep things moving along at a comfortable pace — the longest track here doesn’t even pass the four-minute mark — even as his production choices continue to circle the drain of creativity (non-stop piano melodies and/or guitar licks anyone?). It’s at about the halfway point that the album fully reveals itself to be a senselessly assembled product, not without artistry, but still lacking a truly coherent vision: Even something as basic as album sequencing seems to have been all but ignored by the final mixing stages — especially from “Baddest Thing” to closer “Panoramic,” which has all of these short, deeply unmemorable tracks bump up against one another until they turn into an amorphous sonic blur. To a degree, that’s probably the point and overall strategy: when it comes to flooding the market with derivative wannabe emo-trap, there truly is nobody better than YB.

Published as part of Album Roundup — September 2021 | Part 1.