Right now, YBN Cordae is probably best known as one-third of the YBN clique members to have released a record, somewhat of a sidekick to viral sensation YBN Nahmir and soundtrack star YBN Almighty Jay. However, his recent freestyle and de facto response to J. Cole’s Soundcloud rapper-berating “1985 (Intro To The Fall Off)” has raised a few antennae in hip-hop due to his passionate, lyrically-dense delivery and sharp insights. Now, he’s ready to declare himself in earnest with his first original solo single, “Fighting Temptations,” from YBN’s forthcoming mixtape, Young Boss N*ggas. The YBN whiz kid from Birmingham, AL has plenty to get off his chest and does so in impressive fashion.
Over a throwback, organ-packed instrumental that sounds a bit like an early-aughts Atlanta trap-rap anthem a la early Young Jeezy or T.I., the precocious Cordae spits a tongue-twisting waterfall of illuminating, heady rhymes, highlighting the daily struggles that confront folks at the lower rungs of socioeconomic class — i.e. young, Black men. There are hints of Nas’ early nihilism, dashes of J. Cole’s observational wisdom and wit, and the complex bar construction of an Earl Sweatshirt, pre-boarding school. To put it bluntly, this kid can rap his ass off, a fact which may surprise fans who are quick to judge based on image or associations.
While YBN Nahmir and YBN Almighty Jay are worth getting to know — after all, one has already qualified for XXL‘s annual Freshman Class list — YBN Cordae is one young, rising talent that you need to keep an eye on, especially if you’ve ever asked yourself “Where have all the rappers gone?” There’s at least one right here, bridging the gap between backpack rap of the past and the fun, freewheeling style of the future.