It can be hard to juggle the conflicting interests of commercial appeal and traditionalist, hyper-focused rhyme skills in hip-hop, but Maryland newcomer YBN Cordae is proving he can handle both without breaking a sweat. On previous single “Locationships,” the fire-spitter slowed down to deliver a tongue-in-cheek ode to his favorite ladies, but with his aggressive new single “Have Mercy,” he puts his full arsenal on display, ripping off a machine-gun barrage of rhymes stacked like dominoes to let the world know that lyricism in hip-hop is alive and well. Check it out below, and keep the rewind button handy.
“Sweet Lord, please have mercy / Baby Jesus, please save us,” he intones on the hook, which could be interpreted as a genuine plea, or Cordae’s mocking impression of his lyrical rivals when they hear how hard he spits. It takes a second for the verse to kick in but once it does, he puts the pedal to the floor and refuses to let up for the next two minutes. Cordae may be young — he’s just 21 years old — but he raps like he’s been at it for decades, with a well-practiced, high-octane flow that skillfully weaves in and out of the beat. With the ability to outrap the competition and make lighter fare that appeals to casual fans, Cordae is looking more and more like a star in the making with every release.
YBN Cordae is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music.