Realer tops off a busy—and tumultuous—year for Baton Rouge rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again: three mixtapes, three EPs, one studio album (Until Death Call My Name), and a move from regional voice to national player—all on top of a felony arrest that nearly derailed his career. Like the rest of his recent output, the sound here is tough, sometimes brutally so, but it’s offset by flashes of vulnerability and a handle for melody that makes even his harshest lines go down with unsettling ease: See the switch-up from confession to threat on “Slime Belief,” or the standout “Valuable Pain,” a throwback New Orleans-style track featuring a line that captures his spirit in five words: “I murder from the heart.”

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