Louisiana's JayDaYoungan didn't come up for air throughout the entirety of 2018, releasing new singles, collaborations, and mixtape projects nonstop. The rapper broke through mere months beforehand with some big tracks in 2017 and developed his style from there, moving into more melodic and even sometimes R&B territory but retaining the Lil Wayne and Kevin Gates-steeped rap style of his earliest output. Forever 23 is the clearest composite of Jay's various creative impulses, and the 16-track mixtape sees him getting comfortable trying on different approaches to some of the most musically rich beats he's used so far. This includes slippery lyrical hooks melting into rapid-fire flows on "Cupid," a mellow, stoned funk feel on "Thot Thot" and "Better Days," and other tracks swinging from moody trap minimalism to urgent, wandering rhyme schemes reminiscent of mid-2000s Lil Wayne. Interestingly, Forever 23 is both completely free of featured artists and remarkably brief. JayDaYoungan goes it alone on every track and only one of the many songs goes past the three-minute mark. In this way, the collection feels almost like a diary, each song a similar piece of a larger whole where Jay chronicles the highs and lows of one of his first years as a famous rapper. Songs blur together at times, indicating that even with the nonstop output and endless energy, JayDaYoungan is still finding his voice and growing into his strengths with every release.
AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas