Words connect us. They comprise the stories we pass down from one generation to the next. Ultimately, they pull us closer together and enable us to empathize. YBN Cordae recognizes, respects, and reveres the verbal potential for unity. Acrobatic raps, cinematic wordplay, and nimble rhymes cement the Maryland-raised and Los Angeles-based MC as a consummate 21st century storyteller. This status would be affirmed by 200 million streams within a year and a place at the forefront of hip-hop’s modern vanguard as a 2019 XXL “Freshman Class” cover star, among other accolades.
Now, he employs the full power of language on his full-length debut, The Lost Boy [Atlantic Records].
“Words are the foundation for human communication,” he explains. “That’s how we connect. I’m just telling my story on a human level. I’m talking about the things I’ve gone through and seen others go through in my environment. It’s all me.” It stands out as quite the tale, to say the least…
Born to a 16-year-old mother in Raleigh, NC, he wrote his first rhyme at just four-years-old—which he can still rattle off as if he just penned it. Citing Nas, Big L., and JAY-Z (his all-time favorite) as chief inspirations, he studied the artform every waking minute. At the time, he shared “his grandma’s trailer in the country with at least 15 people at any given time” and recalls his uncle Tuti “smoking weed with his homies, making beats, and playing music” as another formative influence. When Cordae turned ten, mom got a job with the government and moved the budding rapper and his younger brother to Maryland. These experiences informed a diverse viewpoint.
“I’ve lived in a trailer park, but I’ve also lived in the inner city and the suburbs,” he continues. “I’ve dealt with all different walks of life as far as the American experience goes. My mother had a good job, but she was still a single mom. We didn’t have cable or internet, so I did music to occupy my time. I take all this into the album.”
Settling in Maryland, he rapped on-command at school, entertaining a classmate for $3 per rhyme and trading his earnings for Doritos or lunch. At the age of 15, he began collecting, trading, and buying sneakers, saving up enough money to purchase a home studio. As he started recording consistently, he linked up with YBN during 2017 in between attending Towson University and waiting tables. A year later, he dropped out of college as his remix of Eminem’s “My Name Is” and “Old **” exploded virally. In the aftermath, Cordae’s proper debut single “Kung Fu” popped off with 77 million Spotify streams in less than 12 months. Pegged “one of music’s most promising rising stars” by The Wall Street Journal and touted on Complex’s “The Best New Artists of 2018,” he landed on “Artist to Watch” lists from Amazon Music, New York Times, Billboard, iHeart Radio, and VEVO DSCVR, to name a few.
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