Album Notes - YBN Cordae - The Lost Boy
Attending a wedding as a plus one whose hobbies don't include dancing like no one is watching, little choice is given but to find like-minded souls who also shy away from flailing their limbs about in an uncoordinated fashion. And so it was two weeks ago that I found myself next to fellow boyfriend-of-a-bridesmaid, Pablo. Agreeing that the particular brand of music proffered by the DJ largely wasn't our thing, the conversation naturally led to that which we do enjoy. I told him I liked hip hop but hadn't found anything in a while that really hit me. After listing my favorites of the '90s and '00s, artists like Outkast, 2Pac, Atmosphere, and Eminem, among others, Pablo nonchalantly replied, "So you like dirty." My shock of his use of the word "dirty" as a noun was softened by the fact that he had previously referred to Space Jam as "retro" and Biggie as "old school." Did I mention Pablo is 18 years old? I might feel too awkward to dance but I'm not above exposing my age and lack of cultural happenings to glean some worthwhile new music. And that is how I found YBN Cordae.
The Maryland product has sporadically put out mixtapes since 2014, and now five years later his first LP is here. The Lost Boy is not a groundbreaking revolution, but rather a collective timestamp of hip hop past, present, and future. Backed by soulful R&B beats reminiscent of when Kanye was cutting for Kweli and Common, Cordae's crisp flow and phrasing, itself a reflection of his influences, integrates seamlessly with the impressive list of featured guests, something of a who's who on the scene today. Cordae's youthfulness is evident, but so too is his knowledge of hip hop history. It's no surprise to learn that the 21-year-old MC grew up listening to what I listened to. The Lost Boy might not blaze a new trail, but it may well foretell greener pastures ahead.