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NBA YOUNGBOY ‘DECIDED 2’ CLOSES HIS LACKLUSTER 2023 WITH A FITTING SHRUG

The wildly prolific bastion of Baton Rouge has already shared three projects in 2023: January’s I Rest My Case, April’s Don’t Try This at Home, and May’s Richest OppNBA YoungBoy Sounds Stale On ‘Richest Opp’. The albums and mixtapes were released to middling acclaim, with each release carrying a number of strong, emotionally raw tracks, and plenty of filler. His latest 2023 release, Decided 2, follows a similar trajectory, floating on the highs of YoungBoy’s infectious delivery while occasionally being bogged down by tedious raps and empty storytelling.

YoungBoy taps into his R&B bag throughout the project, imbuing much of the record with memorable melodies and some of his best hooks in years. Opener “Free Sex” kicks off with a cheesy acoustic guitar and synth melody, but the passion in YoungBoy’s voice gives the song an undeniable propulsion and energy. On the cut, YoungBoy does his best Thugger vocal impression, manipulating his delivery to put as much emphasis on the way he sings as the words that come out of his mouth. He yelps, “Since she takin’ my soul/ Now this bitch, she gotta go/ I’m a man, I need control/ Feeling like I’m dying slow/ And she don’t even seem to know.”

NBA YOUNGBOY 'DECIDED 2' CLOSES HIS LACKLUSTER 2023 WITH A FITTING SHRUG

YoungBoy also offers up some raw, deep fried funk that informed his 2022 release 3800 Degrees. That was one of his strongest projects to date, and it’s nice hearing the artist revisit that sound, even if it’s relatively short lived on Decided 2. It was also one of YoungBoy’s shorter efforts at 13 tracks, and it would have been nice to see him practice that sort of constraint on Decided 2. The frequency and length of his releases turns ‘what is the purpose of a YoungBoy’ album into an existential endeavor. The frequency deems each release not particularly significant, special, or important.

Decided 2 is an at-times very strong project, and a nice way to show the ways the MC has grown since he dropped Decided in 2018, but at 11 tracks long the first edition is a more successful project. With each sprawling YoungBoy release, the need for quality control only grows higher. Decided 2 has no business being 18 tracks.

“Came A Long Way” is a powerful meditation from YoungBoy on his regrets and wishes, an honest look at his most vulnerable side. He’s haunted, hearing voices from his dead friends that tell him to keep pushing, keep stacking, be careful around new faces. He raps, “I done came a long way from up the road/ Daddy up in jail, long ways up the road/ I’m from the streets, my n***a, but my son won’t be from there/ Spent half my life inside the streets, I still don’t even care.” It’s one of the project’s best tracks, and showcases one of many ways YoungBoy stretches his voice. He also shows this versatility on the modern blues jam “Now Who.” He moves between singing and rapping like Drake wishes he could, and it’s this restless experimentation and dexterity that can make Decided 2 so frustrating.

“I’m A Demon” sounds like YoungBoy couldn’t be bothered to hit the studio to record the track, featuring the MC tossing off rehashed bars and topics he’s explored with much greater clarity. Most annoying is that YoungBoy almost rescues the song with a great chorus. “Guitar Hero” should have been recorded, let alone included on an album.

With just a bit more quality control and thorough editing, Decided 2 could be another great YoungBoy project. As it stands now, it’s merely fine, like too many of the artist’s recent releases.

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