Only one of three clips from Birdman and YoungBoy’s joint mixtape Never Broke Again From Bayou presents Birdman. And in this video, Birdman and YoungBoy never occupy the same room, a detail that captures the spirit of their collaboration. Out of 13 tracks, they appear five times together, their ideas rarely intersect, their performances disparate. For most of its runtime, the gang is centered on YoungBoy, who hums, barks, and moans with his usual intensity and angst, sharing glimpses of his life under house arrest after yet another attempt at jail. But YoungBoy’s jealousies barely mask the void of the project. Although Birdman comes across as a mentor and fellow artist inspired by the talent and drive of his young partner, he is first and foremost an investor, and the YoungBoy action is hot.
YoungBoy and Birdman first teased each other From Bayou in March 2018, as YoungBoy’s career took off thanks to mixtapes and notoriety. Artistically, the collaboration made little sense. Birdman has a mode – stuntin ‘- and YoungBoy is a restless shapeshifter. But YoungBoy was buzzing at the time, and the two artists had ties to Antoine “Fee” Banks, who runs YoungBoy and previously worked with Young Money. There was, at least, a veneer of brand synergy and common history to the team. In the three-plus years since the collaboration’s announcement, however, YoungBoy has grown into a cultural and business juggernaut, with his legal issues, prolific production, and intimate writing morphing into one. autonomous ecosystem. Although he has also released tapes with Rich the Kid and Moneybagg Yo, his music and business are decidedly lonely.
This background makes Birdman’s presence conspicuously disruptive, an intrusion the gang structure seems to recognize. After the fourth song, it disappears, only appearing again on the final track. Previous pairs ‘We Poppin’ and ‘Ride’ showed Birdman and YoungBoy didn’t have much in common other than a shared love to toast to success, so it’s a relief when Birdman retires early. . But his absence underlines the laziness of the project as a whole. Besides the uninspired reference to their home country in the title, YoungBoy and Birdman don’t even try to fill their worlds. Many modern collaborations come together through email, file sharing, and DMs, but From Bayou feels calculated. This wacky and unused work of art is their most interesting shared moment.
Taken as a YoungBoy solo project, From Bayou works well. YoungBoy continues to use music as a confession booth where he resolves his doubts and fears, and channels his rage and challenge. His writing is often lucid and particular, his verses filled with the names of streets and people who are dear to him. On introspective songs like “The Bigger End” and “Achievements” he clings to those memories like a raft, the familiarity of his past briefly canceling out the uncertainty of his future. “Alligator Walk” is all threats, his voice oscillating between moans and growls as he glides into a bouncing NoLimitShawn beat. Her emotions spring to “Heart & Soul”, a song filled with tearful self-assessments and urgent goal setting. “I want to do well since I hit the ground / I watched the way I influence now / I don’t post a photo, I moved on / I am responsible to all these kids now”, he raps, claiming his coat as king of youtube and the hordes of platform teens.
YoungBoy’s versatility ultimately keeps From Bayou afloat, but even its best performance seems meager compared to its previous versions. Birdman’s odd detour aside, YoungBoy’s music standardizes with each release. He continues to opt for functional rhythms that draw on weeping pianos and blues guitar loops. It rarely discusses new sounds, flows, or song structures. His free associative dispatches on healing and pain express his thoughts but do not probe them. His music avoids surprises and risks. He’s consistent, as his fans like to say. Birdman too.
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