YBN CordaePhoto by Jimmy Fontaine

Lost Boy Found

YBN Cordae lands a home at the McDonald Theatre

Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, YBN Cordae first made noise in 2018 after addressing critiques from older and better-established rap artists who have been very open about their disdain for the new generation of hip hop, dubbed “mumble rap.”

In 2017, rapper Eminem claimed he was “frustrated with mumble rap,” saying the new hip hop lacks lyrical substance and overall talent. Cordae then cleverly released a towering freestyle over Eminem’s own beat.

The track, along with Cordae’s remix to J. Cole’s “1985,” brilliantly explains what most of us already knew: that the narrow-mindedness of golden era rap fans, who value rap with a perceived social message, has led to their inability to understand that while the music may sound different, the message is still the same — and the art is even more powerful. 

Seen as the bridge between stubborn ’90s rap fans and the acronym-laden mumble rappers of today, Cordae can seemingly rap circles around his peers — and that doesn’t go unnoticed. Cordae’s debut album features guest spots from heavyweights Chance the Rapper and Meek Mill. There’s even a song where Cordae goes bar-for-bar with Anderson .Paak. 

These co-signs are well deserved. Cordae’s debut album feels mature for a 22 year old. He displays the wisdom of an old man when discussing death, mortality and the patience needed to succeed in the future — and he’s only just getting started.

Lost Boy is the only debut album nominated in the Best Rap Album category at the 2020 Grammys this year, which will be taking place eight days after Cordae performs in Eugene. Cordae will be up against seasoned artists like Tyler, The Creator, Meek Mill and 21 Savage, among others. 

YBN Cordae plays with 24kGoldn and Travis Thompson 9 pm Saturday, Jan. 18, at McDonald Theatre; $27.