Kentrell Gaulden, known to his fans by his stage moniker YoungBoy Never Broken Again, has had 96 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the third most-streamed artist in the United States in 2022 behind Taylor Swift and Drake. According to his recent Billboard.com feature, he is “one of the most popular and prolific rappers on the planet.” Gaulden is also contemplating being baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The revelation may come as a surprise to those familiar with Gaulden’s violent lyrics and criminal background. His music has been described as “brooding, ruthless, and retaliatory.” He has faced criminal charges and legal troubles since he was fifteen and is currently under house arrest for weapons charges in Salt Lake City, Utah. He’d come to the state as part of a youth outreach program as a child and one of its leaders, a woman he now refers to as his mom, introduced him to her family. Since then, Gaulden wanted to make raising a family in Utah a goal. When the weapon charges were filed, his attorneys insisted to a skeptical judge a permanent move to Utah would help Gaulden reform. It was in this setting that he first came in contact with Latter-day Saint missionaries.
When they arrived at his doorsteps, he turned them away but started having second thoughts. “I wanted help very badly. I needed a friend. And it hit me,” he said. When the missionaries returned, he invited them in. “It was just cool to see someone with a different mindset that had nothing to do with business or money — just these wonderful souls.” The missionaries began meeting daily with him and they’d read the Book of Mormon together. Gaulden says he wants to be baptized when he’s able to get his ankle bracelet removed, the timing of which has not yet been determined.
In the interview, he talks extensively about regret for his past lyrics and his hopes to change.
“I woke up one morning and I was like, man they got me,” Gaulden said when speaking of the industry and other rappers he admired. “Man, look at the s—t I spoke about. Look at the s—t I put in these people’s ears. I feel very wrong about a lot of things, how many lives I actually am responsible for when it comes to my music, how many kids and people have gotten in the car or put this s—t in their ears and actually went and hurt someone and now I’m sitting back like down, I can’t do it all in one day, but I promise to clean whatever I can clean, but it’s gonna take time.”
Through a shaky breath, Gaulden answers what he most looks forward to—”Change. I am very curious of the person I shall become.”
After the Billboard.com feature launched this week, Kyle Van Noy reacted on Twitter to Gaulden’s plans to be baptized by saying, “Brother Youngboy!!!! Let me know if you need a Witness I gotchuuuu!” The NFL Super Bowl champion who currently plays for the Los Angeles Chargers is a member of the Church. During baptism ordinances, two witnesses must watch the baptism to ensure it is performed correctly.
You can view a portion of the interview below or read it in full here.
According to the official Church Handbook, “Persons who have been convicted of crimes may not be baptized until they complete their terms of imprisonment. This is true for converts and for those seeking readmission. A person who has been convicted of murder or a crime involving sexual misconduct may not be baptized unless the First Presidency gives approval.”