The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae

Like a lot of rappers, YBN Cordae comes from a collective. The YBN crew met on Xbox Live while playing GTA V, and shortly after that the core members: Nahmir, Almighty Jay, and Cordae starting making music. Last year when YBN: The Mixtape came out, I was pretty underwhelmed. It lacked much character and entertainment that even the strong feature list couldn’t help. Then YBN Cordae dropped “Have Mercy”, and I was immediately brought back into this young Maryland rapper’s career. It just was fun to listen to. The hype around his debut solo album, The Lost Boy, was nothing short of expected and man did he meet expectations!

The Vocals:

Cordae immediately hits us with his talent. On the intro track to the album, “Wintertime”, we are met with smooth, elegant verses and a very well done, harmonic hook. To anyone familiar with Cordae, this really comes as no surprise. The Maryland native grew up listening to Nas, Rakim, and Talib Kweli. This clearly sparked his interest in rap at a young age as well as laid the groundwork for how he would later go on to spit verses. It’s evident in a video that recently surfaced of Cordae rapping as a kid that he has had rhythm and talent for quite a while.

This smoothness continues throughout on almost every track’s hook. They are each catchy in their own way while remaining melodic and fitting the overall vibe. My favorite has to be the hook on “Thanksgiving”.

Mac and cheese up in the oven‚ grandma finished cookin’
Thanksgiving ’round the corner‚ need banana pudding
Brought you home to mama even though you said I shouldn’t
Might not make it to Christmas
But I’m hoping and I’m pushing for a better day
A good day in the making‚ but you never stay
I could say that you fakin’ on the real, huh, n****
Why you fakin’ on the real?

You can’t talk about The Lost Boy without mentioning the feature list on the record. Meek Mill, Ty Dolla $ign, Arin Ray, Pusha T, Anderson Paak., and the Chance we all were hoping for on The Big Day hopped on for a verse. What’s more impressive is, while you can see the influence each of these artists has had on YBN Cordae, he still controls the tracks they collaborated on and each feels like his own. He didn’t just get the Meek Mill or the Pusha T feature for the clout.

The best feature which subsequently is on the best song is from Mr. Yes Lawd himself. “RNP” might be my favorite track of 2019, with its perfect cohesion of Paak and Cordae and old-school style. It’s just hands down fun to listen to. And then “Broke As Fuck” comes on…and you’re like ‘Wait is this still Cordae?’ It’s a trap-style flow and he absolutely kills it, even when he switches it up at the end to provide another smooth, chilled out message.

The Beats:

Throughout The Lost Boy, I was pleasantly surprised by how fitting the beats were. The album starts with a smooth Cardiak beat to set the mood for what is to come. “Thanksgiving” is the perfect example of this mood-setting by the producers. It’s a very chill, light beat that almost sounds lofi and it gets you feeling all warm and cozy inside like its the Holidays. However, it works counteractive to what Cordae is rapping about, providing that happy sense of the Holidays while thinking about the bleak outlook of a relationship.

J. Cole even hops on “RNP” to provide the beat. It fits perfectly with Cordae and Paak’s sound while providing that old school boom bop vibe. Really there isn’t a beat on this whole project that doesn’t slap. Cordae really brought together a solid team of producers here, each with there own styles but all making beats that Cordae made his own. Talk about creating a solid vibe!

The Production:

Most albums I listen to, I always find one or two things wrong with the production. The biggest thing I have been hearing lately, especially with all the new rappers, is a lack a general flow of the record. The transitions don’t have to be perfect but if the album feels disjointed, I’m definitely not fucking with it. When I write reviews, I spin the record straight through, not on shuffle. The Lost Boy is a great example of how to create an overall flow and vibe.

YBN Cordae figured out a way to show his different rapping styles without disrupting the flow. Even on “Broke As Fuck”, he experiments with a trap style but still balances it with his chilled outflow at the end of the track. “Have Mercy” also has a very different feel than the rest of the album yet fits perfectly in the order. Plus it has to have the weirdest video the Lyrical Lemonade camp has put out. All in all, I was really impressed with how Cordae’s team ordered these tracks, broke them up with little “skits”, and created a really fun, flowy vibe.

The Essentials:

“Have Mercy”, “Bad Idea”, “RNP”, “Broke As Fuck”, “Nightmares Are Real”, and “Lost & Found”

The Rating:

If this album isn’t in your consideration for AOTY yet, then you really haven’t listened to this project. YBN Cordae has proven that he has some serious talent and is by far the best of the YBN crew. Look, regardless if this is in your top five for AOTY, in my book The Lost Boy is a…

9.5

I am super excited to see where this kid ends up. He has the momentum and the talent to carry him far, the question is will he just ride the clout wave or will he carve out his own place in the rap industry and truly make a name for him? Only time will tell…

– Heff

The Lost Boy YBN Cordae

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