NBA YoungBoy "I Rest My Case" Album Review

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"I Rest My Case" is a solid and refreshing new offering from NBA YoungBoy, but it’s simply too derivative to stand on its own as a great album.

Over the years, “YB Better” has become both a valid argument supporting NBA YoungBoy’s unwavering dominance and a go-to insult for internet trolls hoping to irritate his contemporaries. Rappers like Kodak Black and Polo G have even vocalized their frustrations with fans spamming “YB Better” under their posts. Nevertheless, that hasn’t stopped YoungBoy from getting in on the fun, too. In the lead-up to his Sincerely, Kentrell album in 2021, he commissioned several “YB Better” billboards across the United States.

Despite the annoying nature of his infamous tagline, YoungBoy Never Broke Again has repeatedly proven he’s better than his competition. With four Billboard 200 chart-toppers on his rapidly growing resume, he is easily one of his generation’s top commercial performers. On the contrary, YoungBoy also doesn’t even seem too concerned with the charts. Last year, the Baton Rouge native sporadically released eight projects, and his fans ate them up with ravenous excitement. Without a doubt, the 23-year-old rapper stayed on top of his game by rewarding his cult following with endless material. Still, dropping projects nonstop can be a death sentence, and the threat of listener fatigue undoubtedly loomed over the horizon. 

Nevertheless, NBA YoungBoy stormed into 2023 by announcing his first new album of the year. Then, on Friday, January 6, he delivered I Rest My Case.

DALLAS, TX - MAY 03: YoungBoy Never Broke Again performs during JMBLYA at Fair Park on May 3, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
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For his fifth album, YoungBoy made the brilliant creative decision to distinguish his new music from his prolific 2022 output. However, he did so by adopting a sound that’s alien to his discography yet all too familiar to rap fans. Shockingly, I Rest My Case heavily borrows from the alternative, hyper-digital, and punk-rap soundscape of Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red. In fact, one could go as far as to argue that YoungBoy may even be trolling Carti’s once-polarizing style. The cover art features graphics that are practically synonymous with Carti's fanbase, from bats and coffins to crosses and skulls. In addition to its nearly monochromatic artwork, some of the album’s track titles seem to address the connection to WLR. Obviously, "Red" is the most eye-catching song title, but "Bitch Yeah" also feels obnoxiously reminiscent of Mario Judah’s “Bih Yah.” 

It’s almost like YoungBoy is trying to one-up Carti, who’s easily one of his biggest competitors, on his own turf. As a result, I Rest My Case begs an interesting question: Is YB truly better than any artist he’s put against?

Although it’s a brave and ambitious effort from the Never Broke Again head honcho, I Rest My Case doesn’t yield the definitive answer its title alludes to.

On one hand, YoungBoy’s new album makes for an easy and entertaining listen. The excitement of hearing one of Hip-Hop’s most prominent young acts dive head-first into a new sonic direction pairs well with the comfort of returning to one of rap’s most thrilling new subgenres. In fact, there are several times throughout I Rest My Case where YoungBoy proves that he could excel in the space if he so chose to. 

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 29: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Rapper NBA YoungBoy performs onstage during Lil Baby & Friends concert to promote the new release of Lil Baby's new album "Street Gossip" at Coca-Cola Roxy on November 29, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images)
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On tracks “Louie V,” “Just Like Me,” and “Not My Friend,” he sounds like he’s been doing this forever. In addition to those standout tracks, the skits (“Top Girls,” “Top Haters,” and “I Love YB”) bring IRMC all together.

Still, it would be a lofty statement to say he makes the best version of this style of music. While there are moments when one could entertain the thought of YoungBoy doing Carti better than Carti, they are fleeting. Furthermore, IRMC would largely benefit from a beefed-up presence of songs that feel more authentic to YB’s artistry. Few tracks — including “Double Cup” and “Same Thang” — feel like YoungBoy songs, which diminishes the album’s sense of identity. 

Thus, the album’s strengths directly lead to its most glaring flaws. Love him or hate him, YoungBoy Never Broke Again has consistently been one of the most unique new acts. Without a doubt, many up-and-coming rappers have morphed into mini NBA YoungBoys due to the young rapper’s success and influence. Balanced against the originality of his past work, I Rest My Case feels like a step backward. Hip-Hop has progressed so far that albums like Whole Lotta Red and IRMC can thrive, but some things haven’t changed. For instance, biting still remains a cardinal sin in rap to this day. So while the idea of YoungBoy cosplaying as Carti sounds entertaining, the album feels antithetical to everything that YB has built for himself.

In conclusion, I Rest My Case is a solid and refreshing new offering from NBA YoungBoy, but it’s simply too derivative to stand on its own as a great album.

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Now that you've read HNHH's review of I Rest My Case, we want to hear from you as well. Are you feeling the Baton Rouge native’s new sound? Does the originality, or lack thereof, affect your ability to enjoy his latest body of work? In the comment section below, let us know your thoughts and opinions on I Rest My Case.

Furthermore, you can also give NBA YoungBoy's new album a rating of your own here.

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