On Moon Boy, Yung Bleu's debut album, the crooner attempts to balance his dueling personas and ultimately presents a radio-ready project ripe with agenda.
The infamous Drake co-sign.
It's long been seen as a coveted secret weapon, a guaranteed career kickstarter for any artist lucky enough to snag one. With that said, the Drake feature hasn't always translated into a guaranteed success story. The trajectories of ILoveMakonnen and BlocBoy JB are a testament to that. But a Drizzy verse has always translated into an opportunity for young artists to capitalize on budding attention rather than curate that attention on their own.
Yung Bleu, the self-made Mobile, Alabama success story, was the latest budding talent to be gifted some Drizzy bars. Released back in 2020, the success of "You're Mine Still" was a slow burn. It gradually gained traction on urban radio, quietly popped up in playlists across the country, and by this year's quarantine-less summer now seems completely inescapable.
But the song's success was due in equal measure to both artists. Sure, Drizzy's bar about the "type of hugs" given to ex-lovers bred many melodramatic tweets and Instagram captions as Drake's lyrics often do, but the meat of "You're Mine Still" was almost single-handedly driven by Bleu's infectious ear for melody. His saccharine voice could at one moment be candied and sensual, and at another gravelly and filled with the same visible anguish that many artists out of Mobile, Alabama possess.
Bleu has long been aware of this distinction. His Investment series catered to the listeners hungry for street-anthems, his Bleu Vandross series catered to the ladies. But with a Drake feature in his arsenal, the question remained how he'd use this newfound traction to break through the A-list glass ceiling.
Yung Bleu, Chris Brown & 2 Chainz - Baddest (Official Video)www.youtube.com
On Moon Boy, Yung Bleu's debut album, the crooner attempts to balance these dueling personas and ultimately presents a radio-ready project ripe with agenda. The album's 15 tracks alternate very plainly between sugary R&B club hits and trap-influenced street tales. Its bloated guest list – which Bleu flexed at not having paid a cent to put together – seems more like an overall flex rather than a specific curation of talent Bleu thought right for the project. "Baddest" is driven almost entirely by Chris Brown's hook, while 2 Chainz' verse sounds dull and lifeless ("I'ma kiss them lips, I'm talkin' both of 'em).
But elsewhere, Bleu's chops as a pop star are seen actively forming. Bleu's choppy flow glistens over the air-tight production of "Last Summer." "Unforgiving" is a woozy R&B cut that finds Bleu's gravelly howls compliment those of Afrobeats superstar Davido, and he and Kehlani sound right at home together on "Beautiful Lies." The highlights are slippery and satisfying, and even though the low points feel blatantly catered to commercial stardom, it's hard to resent the hustle.Regardless of whether Moon Boy will catapult the Alabama warbler to star-studded heights, the project is a testament to just how talented and well-connected Yung Bleu is and that people need to start paying better attention.
- On "Only for Dolphins," Action Bronson Takes Us to the Tropics ... ›
- Slept On: The Latest in Rap Music (April 9, 2021) - Popdust ›